In 1699, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur d' Bienville and his brother, Pierre Le Moyne d' Iberville, and a few soldiers, sailors and craftsmen sailed into Biloxi Bay and, with a plant of their flag, claimed what was tens of millions of acres in the Louisiana Territory for France. They took no heed of the numerous native populations like the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez, who already inhabited the area and immediately began to cut down trees to build the first fort in the area, Fort Maurepas, to began their settlement.
In the same year, Bienville and Iberville began exploring the Mississippi River and, upon rediscovering the mouth, built La Balise there to control passage on the "big river" Whose name came from the Algonquian and Ojibwa languages, and also translated as "father of the waters".
The natives, were told that the intentions of the French were friendly, so they extended a scared gesture, the smoking of the calumet or sacred peace pipe. This gesture was taken very seriously by the natives, so for the next 20 years, they helped the French learn how to survive in the unfamiliar territory even though the French brought with them, diseases that wiped out whole tribes of natives.
The French customs and religion was very strange to the native peoples. When they began to try and move away, this caused conflicts between native tribes as the displaced peoples tried to re-establish themselves in new places. The native tribes had already established territories and these displaced peoples found it difficult to relocate without conflict with other native groups.
One tribe, the Chitimacha, tried to get the French to stop their expansion by killing a priest to send their message. In 1706, the French retaliated marching to the nearest Chitimacha village and killing every person but 20 women and children taken for slaves to "protect the interests of the Company of the Indies".
There was no peace with the natives until 1718, when new land grants "encouraged" the settlers to re-establish peace. By then, Bienville, was the governor of the colony and his home was 100 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico. It was named La Nouvelle Orleans (New Orleans) and it was here the Treaty of Peace was held.
Bienville had plans for the area surrounding his home. He planned to build a new city, modeled after the 1711 resettlement of Mobile, then the capital of French Louisiana. The borders of the city overlooked the Mississippi River along Decatur St, in the front, and in the back by what is now Rampart Street, on the south by Esplanade Avenue, and on the north by what was once an actual canal, but is now Canal Street.
This image shows part of Decatur Street merged against the backdrop of the Mississippi River and the Crescent City Connection bridge.
Multiple image photograph created using film, printed on durable canvas (no framing needed), or as signed limited editions on archival museum weight paper. Image size of limited editions include minimum one inch white border. Canvas available in custom sizes on request.
16" x 20"
Shipping cost: $15.00
My mother always told me I was an observer. She said I would sit still for hours, just watching the world go by. I got my first camera at age 12 but I did not realize the power of photography until I got a chance to participate in a photographic research project on killer whales. There, I began learning the power that photographs held.
I ended up in California. I met a master photographer and printer named Robert Cavalli. I begged him for a job for over a year. Finally, he hired me and taught me everything I know about the possibilities of developing and printing all kinds of black and white film. He was an amazing teacher and I could not have paid for a better education in any school. He was a painter with light and his passion for the medium transferred to me.
Developing my own personal style began when I had to ride a train each day for over 120 miles. It was a unique view of the world. The landscape moving while I sat still, suspended in a metal box. Images scrolled by, some just a flash, some slowly disappearing from view. It became a challenge to capture these visions.
When I reached the end of my trip, my mind always created a single giant mental canvas on which the journey was etched. All that I had experienced was reflected on my mind's eye including what I had seen and feelings about the journey. I realized that this happens when we travel through or visit a place and I began to wonder how I could convey this in an image. I began to collaborate with Robert and it was from our collaborations and years of practice that I was able to develop the image style I use today.
I call them “Crossings”. They represent the images left in our mind’s eye that form after we visit or travel through a place, our inner, giant, mental canvas.
Rebecca McNeill Meyers is a New Orleans artist living and working in the Northshore.
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