Defenders of Cajun, Coushatta culture recognized for their efforts
Attorney, author, and activist Warren Perrin is one of the few people in a republic ever to get an apology from royalty. Perrin is a longtime supporter and defender of Cajun culture; one of the Vermilion Parish native’s most striking projects was his long but ultimately successful lobbying for a formal apology from Queen Elizabeth II for the Acadian Expulsion of the eighteenth century, when British forces expelled French-speaking residents from eastern Canada into other French colonies, including Louisiana, and to France. Her Majesty formally apologized in 2003, with a proclamation recognizing July 28th as an annual day of commemoration.
Perrin’s work with and for Cajun and Acadian culture neither began nor ended with his petition to the queen. Along with Weldon Granger, he established the non-profit Acadian Heritage & Culture Foundation, which operates the Acadian Museum in Erath. Perrin has also served as a Louisiana emissary to number of global Francophone conferences and as a president of the Council on the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL). He has endowed scholarships at the University of Louisiana–Lafayette, supporting the educational ambitions of Vermilion Parish students and students wishing to pursue French immersion study and is currently at work on a bid to have UNESCO recognize early Acadian settlements as a world heritage site, continuing his advocacy for the recognition and celebration of Cajun culture at the global level.Bertney and Linda Langley are working to ensure that the Coushatta people, present and future, have access to their cultural heritage. Bertney, a tribal member and traditional storyteller, and his wife Linda, a retired anthropologist, are the driving forces behind the Coushatta Archives, a resource dedicated to the preservation and accessibility of information about and artifacts relating to the tribe. Along with volunteers from the tribe, the Langleys have worked to secure artifacts held by other institutions, duplicate papers and records, and document items held by individual tribal members. The goal is to have a comprehensive collection of Coushatta history and culture—all in Coushatta hands.
In addition to their work with records and artifacts, the Langleys are both involved in work preserving the Coushatta language (Koasati) and providing opportunities for tribal members to learn their ancestral tongue. Through collaborative, consensus-building processes, the Language Committee begun by the Langleys works to remember and teach Koasati through discussion and participation in traditional cultural activities. Together with tribal volunteers, the Langleys have ensured that the Coushatta have strong links to their past and greater control over their future.