• bayou
    Bayous dot the entire Louisiana coast.

    Photograph by Christina Blanchette, My Shot

    Bayou is a French version of the word "bayuk." Bayuk is a Choctaw word for "small stream."

    Disappearing Bayous
    According to National Geographic, Louisiana has lost around 4,900 square kilometers (1,900 square miles) of coastal wetlands since the 1930s.

    A bayou is a slow-moving creek or a swampy section of a river or a lake. Bayous are often associated with the southeastern part of the United States, especially the state of Louisiana.

    Bayous are usually shallow and sometimes surrounded by trees and bushes. They can be freshwater, saltwater, or a combination of both. This combination is called "brackish water."

    The plants and water of a bayou are home to hundreds of creatures: fish, shrimp, birds, even alligators.

    People have been living in bayous for more than a thousand years. Native Americans known as Choctaws may have been the first people to live in and around Louisiana bayous. Cajun and Creole cultures, both native to Louisiana, are also associated with bayous.

    Bayou Bartholomew is the longest bayou in the world and is located in the U.S. states of Arkansas and Louisiana. It is about 603 kilometers (375 miles) long and contains more than 100 different species of fish. Before railroad lines were constructed in the late 1800s, Bayou Bartholomew was an important waterway for transportation.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Acadia Noun

    (1604-1713) French colony in northeastern North America.

    ancestry Noun

    family (genealogical) or historical background.

    bayou Noun

    swampy backwater of a river or lake.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bayou
    brackish water Noun

    salty water, usually a mixture of seawater and freshwater.

    Cajun Noun

    people of French-speaking ancestry native to the Gulf Coast region of the United States, mostly the coast of Louisiana.

    colony Noun

    people and land separated by distance or culture from the government that controls them.

    commerce Noun

    trade, or the exchange of goods and services.

    communication Noun

    sharing of information and ideas.

    community Noun

    group of organisms or a social group interacting in a specific region under similar environmental conditions.

    creek Noun

    flowing body of water that is smaller than a river.

    Creole Noun

    people and culture of the Native American, French, Caribbean, African, and Spanish settlers of the American Gulf Coast, especially the state of Louisiana.

    culture Noun

    learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

    drainage basin Noun

    an entire river system or an area drained by a river and its tributaries. Also called a watershed.

    flood Noun

    overflow of a body of water onto land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: flood
    Gulf Coast Noun

    land in the United States surrounding the Gulf of Mexico.

    habitat Noun

    environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: habitat
    interact Verb

    to work with or meet.

    isolate Verb

    to set one thing or organism apart from others.

    maritime Adjective

    having to do with the ocean.

    migration Noun

    movement of a group of people or animals from one place to another.

    Native American Noun

    person whose ancestors were native inhabitants of North or South America. Native American usually does not include Eskimo or Hawaiian people.

    navigate Verb

    to plan and direct the course of a journey.

    parish Noun

    political division, similar to a county, in the U.S. state of Louisiana.

    region Noun

    any area on the Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    slave Noun

    person who is owned by another person or group of people.

    sophisticated Adjective

    knowledgeable or complex.

    swamp Noun

    land permanently saturated with water and sometimes covered with it.

    Encyclopedic Entry: swamp
    transportation Noun

    movement of people or goods from one place to another.

    vegetation Noun

    all the plant life of a specific place.

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