The Neutral Strip Folklife Project

The Neutral Strip Project consists of efforts by several organizations since 2007. Under the leadership of John Crook, the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission received a Folklife Initiative grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts to conduct a five-parish cultural survey and inventory in Allen, Beauregard, DeSoto, Sabine, and Vernon parishes with guidance from the Louisiana Office of Tourism. From 1806 to 1819 the region, also known as No-Man's Land, was a disputed international boundary between the United States and Spain following the Louisiana Purchase. In 1819 the Adams-Onis Treaty established the Sabine River as the western boundary.

The goal was to help the tourism efforts pinpoint the region's identity for tourism purposes. A team of researchers contributed. Anthropologists Donna Bonner and Rolonda Teal conducted fieldwork. Folklorist Keagan LeJeune compiled an annotated bibliography. Regional Folklorist Dayna Lee provided project oversight. Northwestern State University geographer Dean Sinclair identified themes that could be used for tourism promotion and compiled the final report. The final report and archival materials are held by the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission. The Louisiana Folklife Program has copies of some of the materials and an inventory.

In 2009-10, the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission received a second grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts Folklife Initiative Fund and contracted with Rolonda Teal to gather myths, legends and folktales from the the same five parishes. The resulting project is entitled Myths and Legends Byway Project and Toledo Bend Forest Byway.

In 2013, Vernon Parish Tourism Commission contracted Keagan LeJeune to draw on prior research and his own knowledge of the region to develop text for kiosks to be placed throughout the region. As a folklorist at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, he had researched legends for his book, Always for the Underdog: Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War.

In 2015, LeJeune wrote an overview of the region and its legends for the Folklife in Louisiana website. The Folklife Program also contracted with Rolonda Teal to provide two essays based on her prior work in addition to contracting with Jon and Jocelyn Donlon to conduct new fieldwork.

The essays listed below are on the Folklife in Louisiana website and include information about the Neutral Strip.

Western Louisiana's Neutral Strip: Its History, People, And Legends - Keagan LeJeune

Indians in the 21st Century - Dayna Lee

Night Fishing in Sabine Parish: A Family Affair - Rolonda Teal

Riding Clubs in Northwest Louisiana Serving as Mutual Aid Societies - Rolonda Teal

Living Off the Land in DeSoto Parish - Jon Donlon and Jocelyn Donlon