ACADIAN-CAJUN Genealogy & History:
A Short History of the Acadians and Cajuns. Judy LaBorde. About years ago, a trickle of men and women left their hometowns in France and sailed to With poverty so widespread, what difference did it make that the Acadians were poor. France established the French colony of Acadia, now Nova Scotia, Canada. dialect (a patois of 18th-century French), their music, their spicy. The Cajuns also known as Acadians are an ethnic group mainly living in the U.S. state of . During the 18th and 19th centuries, "Cajuns" came to be identified as the French-speaking Geography had a strong correlation to Cajun lifestyles.
Say the word "Louisiana" to someone planning a visit to our State and chances are the visitor will want to eat Cajun food, hear Cajun music, and experience the Cajun way of life. How did we go from Acadia, "a place up in Canada," to Cajun, a vital element in the spicy identity of contemporary Louisiana?
Bernard, co-author with his wife Kara of the "Encyclopedia of Cajun Culture," http: Acadians are the ancestors of present-day Cajuns. Originally from the West Central part of France, they were peasants recruited as part of France's efforts to colonize Canada in the 17th century.
At that time, however, the area was known as "Acadia," or "Acadie" in French. For most of the years between andthe Acadians were left alone by both France and England. The result was the development of a strong identity based on a shared culture, religion, and distinctive language. The Acadians also had large extended families whose members intermarried. Those of French origin, however, dominated the cultural landscape.
Contrary to popular belief, the British deported only about 6, Acadians by ship, the remainder seeking refuge in nearby territories. About half the Acadian population died during the expulsion, according to some estimates.
Galvez wanted the Acadians as a counter influence to the nearby British. The Acadians arrived destitute in sub-tropical Louisiana.
They had lost their farms, their crops, and in many cases members of their immediate families. Heading westward, Cajuns first reached the eastern, then the western prairie. In the first region, densely settled by Cajuns, farmers grew corn and cotton. On the western prairie, farmers grew rice and ranchers raised cattle. This second region was thinly settled until the late s when the railroad companies lured Midwesterners to the Louisiana prairies to grow rice.
The arrival of Midwesterners again displaced many Cajuns; however, some remained on the prairies in clusters of small farms. A third region of Cajun settlement, to the south of the prairies and their waterways, were the coastal wetlands—one of the most distinctive regions in North America and one central to the Cajun image. The culture and seafood cuisine of these Cajuns has represented Cajuns to the world. In the late s, Cajun swamp dwellers began to build and live on houseboats. Currently, mobile homes with additions and large porches stand on stilts ten feet above the swamps.
Cajuns and other Louisianans also established and maintained camps for temporary housing in marshes, swamps, and woods. For the Acadians, many of whom were hunters and trappers, this was a strong tradition. At first, a camp was only a temporary dwelling in order to make money.
Eventually, Cajuns did not need to live in camps, because they could commute daily from home by car or powerboat. By that time, however, Cajuns enjoyed and appreciated their camps. As settlements grew, so did the desire to get away to hunt and fish; today, many Cajun families maintain a camp for recreation purposes. Acculturation and Assimilation Cajuns have always been considered a marginal group, a minority culture.
Language, culture, and kinship patterns have kept them separate, and they have maintained their sense of group identity despite difficulties. Cajun settlement patterns have isolated them and Cajun French has tended to keep its speakers out of the English-speaking mainstream. Acadians brought a solidarity with them to Louisiana. As one of the first groups to cross the Atlantic and adopt a new identity, they felt connected to each other by their common experience. Differences in backgrounds separated the Acadians from those who were more established Americans.
Creole Louisianans, with years of established communities in Louisiana, often looked down on Acadians as peasants. Some Cajuns left their rural Cajun communities and found acceptance, either as Cajuns or by passing as some other ethnicity. Some Cajuns became gentleman planters, repudiated their origins, and joined the upper-class white Creoles. Because Cajuns usually married among themselves, as a group they do not have many surnames; however, the original population of Acadian exiles in Louisiana grew, especially by incorporating other people into their group.
Colonists of Spanish, German, and Italian origins, as well as Americans of English-Scotch-Irish stock, became thoroughly acculturated and today claim Acadian descent.
Black Creoles and white Cajuns mingled their bloodlines and cultures; more recently, Louisiana Cajuns include Yugoslavs and Filipinos. Economics helped Cajuns stay somewhat separate. Moreover, until the beginning of the twentieth century, U. The majority of Cajuns did not begin to Americanize until the turn of the twentieth century, when several factors combined to quicken the pace.
These factors included the nationalistic fervor of the early s, followed by World War I. Perhaps the most substantial change for Cajuns occurred when big business came to extract and sell southern Louisiana's oil. The discovery of oil in in Jennings, Louisiana, brought in outsiders and created salaried jobs. Although the oil industry is the region's main employer, it is also a source of economic and ecological concern because it represents the region's main polluter, threatening fragile ecosystems and finite resources.
Although the speaking of Cajun French has been crucial to the survival of Cajun traditions, it has also represented resistance to assimilation. Whereas Cajuns in the oilfields spoke French to each other at work and still doCajuns in public schools were forced to abandon French because the compulsory Education Act of banned the speaking of any other language but English at school or on school grounds. While some teachers labeled Cajun French as a low-class and ignorant mode of speech, other Louisianans ridiculed the Cajuns as uneducable.
Other factors affecting the assimilation of the Cajuns were the improvement of transportation, the leveling effects of the Great Depression, and the development of radio and motion pictures, which introduced young Cajuns to other cultures. Yet Cajun culture survived and resurged. Cajuns rallied around their traditional music in the s, and in the s this music gained attention and acceptance from the American mainstream.
On the whole, though, the s and s were times of further mainstreaming for the Cajuns. As network television and other mass media came to dominate American culture, the nation's regional, ethnic cultures began to weaken.
Since the s, Cajuns have exhibited renewed pride in their heritage and consider themselves a national resource. By the s, ethnicities first marginalized by the American mainstream became valuable as regional flavors; however, while Cajuns may be proud of the place that versions of their music and food occupy in the mainstream, they—especially the swamp Cajuns—are also proud of their physical and social marginality. According to Cajun Country, "The survival—indeed the domination— of Acadian culture was a direct result of the strength of traditional social institutions and agricultural practices that promoted economic self-sufficiency and group solidarity.
For example, before roads, people visited by boat; before electrical amplification and telephones, people sang loudly in large halls, and passed news by shouting from house to house. And when Cajuns follow their customs, their culture focuses inwardly on the group and maintains itself. Cajuns maintain distinctive values that predate the industrial age. Foremost among these, perhaps, is a traditional rejection of protocols of social hierarchy.
When speaking Cajun French, for instance, Cajuns use the French familiar form of address, tu, rather than vous except in jest and do not address anyone as monsieur. Their joie de vivre is legendary manifested in spicy food and lively dancingas is their combativeness. Cajun traditions help make Cajuns formidable, mobile adversaries when fighting, trapping, hunting, or fishing. Cajun boaters invented a flatboat called the bateau, to pass through shallow swamps.
They also built European-style luggers and skiffs, and the pirogue, based on Indian dugout canoes. Cajuns often race pirogues; or, two competitors stand at opposite ends on one and try to make each other fall in the water first. Fishers hold their own competitions, sometimes called "fishing rodeos. Cajuns value horses, too. American cowboy culture itself evolved partly out of one of its earliest ranching frontiers on Louisiana's Cajun prairies.
Cajun ranchers developed a tradition called the barrel or buddy pickup, which evolved into a rodeo event. Today, Cajuns enjoy horse racing, trail-riding clubs, and Mardi Gras processions, called courses, on horseback. Cajuns also enjoy telling stories and jokes during their abundant socializing. White Cajuns have many folktales in common with black Creoles—for example, stories about buried treasure abound in Louisiana.
One reason for this proliferation was Louisiana's early and close ties to the Caribbean where piracy was rampant. Also, many people actually did bury treasure in Louisiana to keep it from banks or—during the Civil War—from invading Yankees.
Typically, the stories describe buried treasure guarded by ghosts. Cajuns relish telling stories about moonshiners, smugglers, and contraband runners who successfully fool and evade federal agents.
Many Cajun beliefs fall into the mainstream's category of superstition, such as spells gris-gris, to both Cajuns and Creoles and faith healing. In legends, Madame Grandsdoigts uses her long fingers to pull the toes of naughty children at night, and the werewolf, known as loup garou, prowls.
Omens appear in the form of blackbirds, cows, and the moon. For example, according to Cajun Country: A halo of light around a full moon supposedly means clear weather for as many days as there are stars visible inside the ring. Acadians brought with them provincial cooking styles from France. Availability of ingredients determined much of Cajun cuisine.
Cajuns | kinenbicounter.info
Frontier Cajuns borrowed or invented recipes for cooking turtle, alligator, raccoon, possum, and armadillo, which some people still eat. Louisianans' basic ingredients of bean and rice dishes—milled rice, dried beans, and cured ham or smoked sausage—were easy to store over relatively long periods.
Beans and rice, like gumbo and crawfish, have become fashionable cuisine in recent times. They are still often served with cornbread, thus duplicating typical nineteenth-century poor Southern fare.Louisiana Cajun/Creole accent, dialect, customs
Gumbo, a main Cajun dish, is a prime metaphor for creolization because it draws from several cultures. Its main ingredient, okra, also gave the dish its name; the vegetable, called " guingombo, " was first imported from western Africa.
Cayenne, a spicy seasoning used in subtropical cuisines, represents Spanish and Afro-Caribbean influences. Cajuns thriftily made use of a variety of animals in their cuisine. Gratonsalso known as cracklings, were made of pig skin. Internal organs were used in the sausages and boudin. White boudin is a spicy rice and pork sausage; red boudin, which is made from the same rice dressing but is flavored and colored with blood, can still be found in neighborhood boucheries. The intestines were cleaned and used for sausage casings.
Brains were cooked in a pungent brown sauce. Other Cajun specialties include tasso, a spicy Cajun version of jerky, smoked beef and pork sausages such as andouille made from the large intestineschourice made from the small intestinesand chaudin stuffed stomach.
Perhaps the most representative food of Cajun culture is crawfish, or mudbug. Its popularity is a relatively recent tradition. It was not until the This Acadian couple is enjoying dancing together at the annual Acadian festival.
They have retained a certain exotic aura, however, and locals like to play upon the revulsion of outsiders faced for the first time with the prospect of eating these delicious but unusual creatures by goading outsiders to suck the "head" technically, the thorax. Like lobster, crawfish has become a valuable delicacy. The crawfish industry, a major economic force in southern Louisiana, exports internationally.
However, nearly 85 percent of the annual crawfish harvest is consumed locally. Other versions of Cajun foods, such as pan-blackened fish and meats, have become ubiquitous. Chef Paul Prudhomme helped bring Cajun cuisine to national prominence.
Cooking is considered a performance, and invited guests often gather around the kitchen stove or around the barbecue pit more recently, the butane grill to observe the cooking and comment on it. Guests also help, tell jokes and stories, and sing songs at events such as outdoor crawfish, crab, and shrimp boils in the spring and summer, and indoor gumbos in winter.
After they arrived in Louisiana, Anglo-American immigrants to Louisiana contributed new fiddle tunes and dances, such as reels, jigs, and hoedowns. Singers also translated English songs into French and made them their own. Accordi to Cajun Country, "Native Americans contributed a wailing, terraced singing style in which vocal lines descend progressively in steps.
Since the nineteenth century, Cajuns and black Creoles have performed together. Not only the songs, but also the instruments constitute an intercultural gumbo. Traditional Cajun and Creole instruments are French fiddles, German accordians, Spanish guitars, and an assortment of percussion instruments triangles, washboards, and spoonswhich share European and Afro-Caribbean origins.
German-American Jewish merchants imported diatonic accordians shortly after they were invented in Austria early in the nineteenth centurywhich soon took over the lead instrumental role from the violin.
Cajuns improvised and improved the instruments first by bending rake tines, replacing rasps and notched gourds used in Afro-Caribbean music with washboards, and eventually producing their own masterful accordians. During the rise of the record industry, to sell record players in southern Louisiana, companies released records of Cajun music. Its high-pitched and emotionally charged style of singing, which evolved so that the noise of frontier dance halls could be pierced, filled the airwaves.
Cajun music influenced country music; moreover, for a period, Harry Choates's string band defined Western swing music. Lejeune prompted "a new wave of old music" and a postwar revival of Cajun culture. Southern Louisiana's music influenced Hank Williams— whose own music, in turn, has been extremely influential. In the s, national organizations began to try to preserve traditional Cajun music. French for "Fat Tuesday," Mardi Gras pre-Christian Europe's New Year's Eve is based on medieval European adaptations of even older rituals, particularly those including reversals of the social order, in which the lower classes parody the elite.
Men dress as women, women as men; the poor dress as rich, the rich as poor; the old as young, the young as old; black as white, white as black. While most Americans know Mardi Gras as the city of New Orleans celebrates it, rural Cajun Mardi Gras stems from a medieval European procession in which revelers traveled through the countryside performing in exchange for gifts. Those in a Cajun procession, called a course which traditionally did not openly include womenmasquerade across lines of gender, age, race, and class.
They also play at crossing the line of life and death with a ritual skit, "The Dead Man Revived," in which the companions of a fallen actor revive him by dripping wine or beer into his mouth.
Participants in a Cajun Mardi Gras course cross from house to house, storming into the yard in a mock-pillage of the inhabitant's food. Like a trick-or-treat gang, they travel from house to house and customarily get a series of chickens, from which their cooks will make a communal gumbo that night. The celebration continues as a rite of passage in many communities.
Carnival, as celebrated by Afro-Caribbeans and as a ritual of ethnic impersonation whereby Euro-and Afro-Caribbean Americans in New Orleans chant, sing, dance, name themselves, and dress as Indiansalso influences Mardi Gras as celebrated in southern Louisiana.
On one hand, the mainstream Mardi Gras celebration retains some Cajun folkloric elements, but the influence of New Orleans invariably supplants the country customs. Cajun Mardi Gras participants traditionally wear masks, the anonymity of which enables the wearers to cross social boundaries; at one time, masks also provided an opportunity for retaliation without punishment.
Course riders, who may be accompanied by musicians riding in their own vehicle, might surround a person's front yard, dismount and begin a ritualistic song and dance. The silent penitence of Lent, however, follows the boisterous transgression of Mardi Gras. A masked ball, as described in Cajun Country, "marks the final hours of revelry before the beginning of Lent the next day.
All festivities stop abruptly at midnight, and many of Tuesday's rowdiest riders can be found on their knees receiving the penitential ashes on their fore-heads on Wednesday.
The stations of the cross, which usually hang on the walls of a church, are mounted on large oak trees between the two towns. This celebration, according to Cajun Country, has European roots: Priests bless the fields of sugar cane and the fleets of decorated shrimp boats by reciting prayers and sprinkling holy water upon them.
Although the expense of professional medical care was prohibitive even when it was available, rural Cajuns preferred to use folk cures and administered them themselves, or relied on someone adept at such cures. These healers, who did not make their living from curing other Cajuns, were called traiteurs, or treaters, and were found in every community. They also believed that folk practitioners, unlike their professional counterparts, dealt with the spiritual and emotional—not just the physiological— needs of the individual.
Each traiteur typically specializes in only a few types of treatment and has his or her own cures, which may involve the laying-on of hands or making the sign of the cross and reciting of prayers drawn from passages of the Bible. Of their practices—some of which have been legitimated today as holistic medicine—some are pre-Christian, some Christian, and some modern. Residual pre-Christian traditions include roles of the full moon in healing, and left-handedness of the treaters themselves.
Christian components of Cajun healing draw on faith by making use of Catholic prayers, candles, prayer beads, and crosses. Cajuns' herbal medicine derives from post-medieval French homeopathic medicine. A more recent category of Cajun cures consists of patent medicines and certain other commercial products.
Some Cajun cures were learned from Indians, such as the application of a poultice of chewing tobacco on bee stings, snakebites, boils, and headaches. Other cures came from French doctors or folk cures, such as treating stomach pains by putting a warm plate on the stomach, treating ring-worm with vinegar, and treating headaches with a treater's prayers.
Some Cajun cures are unique to Louisiana: Cajuns have a higher-than-average incidence of cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, albinism, and other inherited, recessive disorders, perhaps due to intermarriage with relatives who have recessive genes in common. Other problems, generally attributed to a high-fat diet and inadequate medical care, include diabetes, hypertension high blood pressureobesity, stroke, and heart disease. Language Cajun French, for the most part, is a spoken, unwritten language filled with colloquialisms and slang.
Although the French spoken by Cajuns in different parts of Louisiana varies little, it differs from the standard French of Paris as well as the French of Quebec; it also differs from the French of both white and black Creoles. Cajun French-speakers hold their lips more loosely than do the Parisians. They tend to shorten phrases, words, and names, and to simplify some verb conjugations.
Nicknames are ubiquitous, such as " 'tit joe" or " 'tit black," where " 'tit " is slang for " petite " or "little. It forms the present participle of verbs—e. For example, the word for tying a shoelace is amerrer to moor [a boat]and the phrase for making a U-turn in a car is virer de bord to come about [with a sailboat]. Since Brittany, in northern coastal France, is heavily Celtic, Cajun French bears "grammatical and other linguistic evidences of Celtic influence.
Louisiana, which had already made school attendance compulsory, implemented a law in the s that constitutionally forbade the speaking of French in public schools and on school grounds. The state expected Cajuns to come to school and to leave their language at home. This attempt to assimilate the Cajuns met with some success; young Cajuns appeared to be losing their language. However, the French is the standard French of Parisians, not that of Cajuns.
Although French is generally not spoken by the younger generation in Maine, New England schools are beginning to emphasize it and efforts to repeal the law that made English the sole language in Maine schools have been successful. In addition, secondary schools have begun to offer classes in Acadian and French history.
Anthologies of stories and series of other writings have been published in the wake of Reed's book. Louisiana State University Press, ].
In the oilfields, on fishing boats, and other places where Cajuns work together, though, they have continued to speak Cajun French. Storytellers, joke tellers, and singers use Cajun French for its expressiveness, and for its value as in-group communication. Cajun politicians and businessmen find it useful to identify themselves as fellow insiders to Cajun constituents and patrons by speaking their language. Family and Community Dynamics Cajuns learned to rely on their families and communities when they had little else.
Traditionally they have lived close to their families and villages. Daily visits were usual, as were frequent parties and dances, including the traditional Cajun house-party called the fais-dodo, which is Cajun baby talk for "go to sleep," as in "put all the small kids in a back bedroom to sleep" during the party.
Traditionally, almost everyone who would come to a party would be a neighbor from the same community or a family member. Cajuns of all ages and abilities participated in music-making and dancing since almost everyone was a dancer or a player. In the s, 76 percent of the surnames accounted for 86 percent of all Cajuns; each of those surnames reflected an extended family which functioned historically as a Cajun subcommunity.