Colson named Tradition Bearer

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NATCHITOCHES – Filé maker, tour guide, and oral historian John Oswald Colson was named a Louisiana Tradition Bearer by the Louisiana Folklife Commission and honored at a ceremony on Saturday at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum in Natchitoches. Serving as a Folklife Ambassador for the Louisiana Folklife Commission, Dr. Shane Rasmussen, associate professor of English and director of the Louisiana Folklife Center, talked with Colson about his lifetime of experience studying and preserving Louisiana’s traditional folklife. Joining Rasmussen were Dr. Hiram “Pete” Gregory, professor of anthropology at NSU, and Dustin Fuqua, chief of resource management at Cane River Creole National Historical Park.

 

It was announced at the event that Colson will be inducted into the Louisiana Folklife Center’s Hall of Master Folk Artists at the next Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival on July 27, 2019.

 

The well-attended ceremony and discussion was part of a series of events throughout the state for Folklife Month in Louisiana. Colson was honored with a certificate from Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, officially recognizing him as a Louisiana tradition bearer. The event was sponsored by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, the Louisiana Folklife Center, the Louisiana Folklore Society, and the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. Funding was also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works, and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in collaboration with the Louisiana Folklife Commission.

Louisiana bearer John Oswald Colson pounded sassafras leaves to make filé. Behind him seated is Dr. Hiram “Pete” Gregory, Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern State University. (Photo by Jennae Biddiscombe)
Louisiana tradition bearer John Oswald Colson discussed the harvesting techniques of sassafras leaves for making file. At left is Dr. Hiram “Pete” Gregory, Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern State University. At right is Dustin Fuqua, Chief of Resource Management at Cane River Creole National Historical Park. (Photo by Jennae Biddiscombe)
John Oswald Colson was recognized as a Louisiana Tradition Bearer. From left are Colson, Dr. Hiram “Pete” Gregory, Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern State University; Dustin Fuqua, Chief of Resource Management at Cane River Creole National Historical Park, and Dr. Shane Rasmussen, Associate Professor of English at Northwestern State University and Director of the Louisiana Folklife Center. (Photo by Jennae Biddiscombe)