(a) FindingsThe Congress finds that—
the Natchitoches area along Cane River, established in 1714, is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory;
the Cane River area is the locale of the development of Creole culture, from French-Spanish interactions of the early 18th century of today’s living communities;
the Cane River, historically a segment of the Red River, provided the focal point for early settlement, serving as a transportation route upon which commerce and communication reached all parts of the colony;
the Cane River area includes a great variety of historical features with original elements in both rural and urban settings and a cultural landscape that represents various aspects of Creole culture, providing the base for a holistic approach to understanding the broad continuum of history within the region;
the Cane River region includes the Natchitoches National Historic Landmark District, composed of approximately 300 publicly and privately owned properties, four other national historic landmarks, and other structures and sites that may meet criteria for landmark significance following further study;
historic preservation within the Cane River area has greatly benefitted from individuals and organizations that have strived to protect their heritage and educate others about their rich history; and
because of the complexity and magnitude of preservation needs in the Cane River area, and the vital need for a culturally sensitive approach, a partnership approach is desirable for addressing the many preservation and educational needs.
(b) PurposesThe purposes of this subchapter are to—
recognize the importance of the Cane River Creole culture as a nationally significant element of the cultural heritage of the United States;
establish a Cane River National Heritage Area and Commission to be undertaken in partnership with the State of Louisiana, the City of Natchitoches, local communities and settlements of the Cane River area, preservation organizations, and private landowners, with full recognition that programs must fully involve the local communities and landowners.