The newly created Natchitoches Parish African American Cultural Heritage Initiative (NPAACHI) is working to develop sustainable communities in Natchitoches Parish, La., that serve as heritage destinations and improve the quality of life for residents. The National Center for Preservation Technology & Training, which is headquartered in Natchitoches, is sponsoring the initial research and documentation for NPAACHI’s efforts to found two African American historic districts within the Parish.

David Harris conducts an oral history interview with long-time Natchitoches residents Lee White and James Gay at the Dawn of Light Lodge, a Masonic lodge that once served as a general store and a center of African American community identity.

A project team comprised of five interns will be working to survey African American heritage resources in Natchitoches and in Natchez. Project coordinator Donna Isaacs is working with the team to submit nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. The interns include the following:

  • Brandi DuPree a sophomore at Loyola University New Orleans, and a lifelong resident of Natchitoches Parish, is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, with a double minor in World Religious Studies and Middle Eastern Peace Studies. She feels that this internship will help her to expand her knowledge of African-American culture within her hometown, while also contributing to her future psychological research projects.
  • A 2011 graduate of the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, David Harris is working with the African-American Cultural Heritage Initiative to gain experience in research and documentation methods before enrolling in Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., where he plans to pursue a major in history.
  • Markita Hamilton, is a native of Natchitoches and graduate of both Natchitoches Central High School and Northwestern State University.  She is currently pursuing two additional degrees in Organizational Communications and English. Hamilton also wants to help others enrich their knowledge in not only African American history, but the overall history of Natchitoches which she feels is underrated.
  • LaKedra Rachal is a 2011 Natchitoches Central High graduate, will be conducting preliminary research on thematic nominations addressing contributions made by African Americans in Natchitoches.  She looks forward to improving her research and documentation skills while studying African American history in her lifelong home of Natchitoches.
  • Tiffany Thomas, a senior English and Journalism major at Northwestern State University, will research and document the historic district of the Village of Natchez, using her skills in journalism to document cultural trends within the Parish.

The five interns are separated into two groups.  The team documenting “The Hill”  in Natchitoches includes Brandi Dupree, David Harris, and LaKedra Rachal. Markita Hamilton and Tiffany Thomas have teamed up for the Natchez documentation. The project groups are currently conducting oral history interviews as part of their research.

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119