The term Creole is used with different meanings in different contexts, which can generate confusion. Generally it refers to a people or a culture that is distinctive or local to a region, but with various additional shades of meaning.
Disambiguation: See also Creole language
Latin American Creole
In most of Latin America Creole (Spanish, criollo, Portuguese, crioulo) generally refers to people of unmixed Spanish or Portuguese descent born in the New World. In Brazil, though, the word is a pejorative slang for a black individual.
Throughout the colonial history of Latin America, the Spanish caste system made distinction between criollos and the higher-ranking and governing peninsulares, despite both being of pure Spanish ancestry — the only distinction being that the latter were born on the Iberian Peninsula, whence the name.
This formed a discontented criollo underclass that, together with the support of the other decreasing-in-rank underclasses — mestizo, mulatto, amerindian, zambo and ultimately black slaves — impelled the Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821) and the South American Wars of Independence (1810–1825) against Spain, culminating in the establishment of republics throughout the former Spanish Empire.
In Brazil, a very different process occurred, independence being granted without war, (except for a quickly resolved internal problem in the northern regions which did not accept independence), and the relationship between non-mixed Portuguese (now Brazilians), mixed natives and Portuguese was kept peaceful. Unlike in Spanish America, a Brazilian monarchy directly connected to the Portuguese was established. Portuguese born in Portugal were named Galegos, the name especially being used to refer to the northern Portuguese, but also used for the southern ones.
New Orleans and Louisiana Creole
In this context the word refers to people of any race or mixture thereof who are descended from settlers in Louisiana before it became part of the USA in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, or to the culture and cuisine typical of these people. Some writers from other parts of the USA have mistakenly assumed the term to refer only to people of mixed racial decent, but this is not the traditional Louisiana usage. In fact some locals, especially those of pure Spanish and French Creole descent, have often argued that the traditional usage excluded African lineage. However, Colonial era doccuments show that a broader usage of the term was already common by the late 18th century, with references to "free Creoles of Color" and even to slaves of pure African descent born in Louisiana as "Creole slaves". It is now accepted that Creole is a broad cultural group of people of all races who share a French or Spanish background. Louisianas who identify themselves as "Creole" are most commonly from historically Francophone communities with some ancestors who came to Louisiana either directly from France or via the French colonies in the Caribbean; those decended from the Acadians of French Canada are more likely to identify themselves as Cajun than Creole.
People of mixed Native American (esp. Alaskan) and European (esp. Russian) ancestry. The intermingling of promyshleniki men and Aleut women in the late 18th century gave rise to a people who assumed a prominent position in the economy of fur trading in the northern Pacific.
Mixed Portuguese and African ancestry.
Mixed Portuguese and Asian ancestry.
People of mixed Portuguese and Native ancestry that the Portuguese had contact with since the 15th century but who didn't speak a Portuguese creole are known as mulatos, mestiços, caboclos and pardos.
See also: Portuguese Creole
de:Kreolen es:Criollo nl:Creool
In the Caribbean region the term creole is used to describe anyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, that was born and raised in the region. It also refers to the syncretism of the various cultures (African, French, British and Spanish among others) which influenced the area. This is also referred to as the creolization of society "due to its ability to suggest some of the complex sociocultural issues also involved in the process".(Manuel,p14) Linguistically speaking,it denotes the evolution of the blending of two or more languages to form a distinct new language that becomes the primary language of future generations.