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July 4 Independence Day: The Canary Islands' role in the colonization of North America

Map of North America

During his tenure as governor of Spanish Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez promoted the creation of five foundations in the four cardinal points around New Orleans, the capital of Louisiana, for military reasons to defend the city and the war he was waging against the British troops from West Louisiana and Florida. Between 1777 and 1783, when Spain occupied this territory, it was decided, by Madrid, to ensure - through colonization - control over a conflictive area highly coveted for its natural resources and strategic location, for which the Spanish administration used the population of the Canary Islands.

In those years, 4,312 people left the Canary Islands for New Orleans, although only half managed to arrive, since numerous desertions were recorded when the expeditions touched in Cuba, especially from 1779, with the declaration of war against England.

Once they arrived in Louisiana, the Canarian emigrants were settled in four points or population centres around New Orleans: San Bernardo, near New Orleans; Barataria, across the Mississippi; Galveztown at the confluence of the Amite River, and Valenzuela, on the Lafourche bayou.

Barataria and Galveztown failed in a short period of time, the first as a result of two almost consecutive hurricanes (in 1779 and 1780), and the other two were practically uninhabited in a short time, due to the poor living conditions, its climatology, floods, famines and abandonment by the Louisiana Government, which did not provide goods, food and protection to these foundations.

Only a part could survive concentrated in the current Canarian colony of Saint Bernard's Parish, on the coast of New Orleans. New Iberia, also recently founded, suffered a hurricane and another location was sought in the Bayú Teche, a tributary of the Mississippi, but its inhabitants, mixed with the French-speaking population, remained in the region and the city exists today.

La Concepción, was later renamed as the Parish of San Bernardo. Of the four, only this one survives, the current epicentre of the descendants of Canary Islanders in Louisiana, where the Los Islenos Museum & Village is located.

Although Louisiana ceased to be a Spanish colony in 1803, the Spanish of the Canary Islands have remained to this day, although in an increasingly scarce form and in danger of extinction. This survival is due not only to the isolation of the main settlement, San Bernardo, but also to the successive waves of emigrants from both the Canary Islands and the Peninsula or even Cuba.

Created by two Canarians, photographer Aníbal Martel and Harvard University researcher Thenesoya V. Martín De la Nuez, CISLANDERUS is the first cultural project dedicated to discovering the community of Canarian descendants in the United States. Today the descendants of these emigrants strive to preserve their culture and language, speaking Spanish from the Canary Islands.

4 de Julio Día de la Independencia Norteamericana: El papel de la colonización Canaria

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