The Acadians in Louisiana acad.jpg

Quiz

The Acadians in Louisiana
“The Legacy of Cajuns”

“Welcome to Cajun Country” is a phrase you have probably heard often. But who are Acadians and how did they become Cajuns? How did this group end up in Louisiana? Where did their story begin? We will answer a few of those questions as we learn more about “The Acadian Odyssey” and the roots of that legacy.

The Acadians, who would later become known as “Cajuns” began their journey from the rural areas of the Vendee region of western France.

Around 1604, some French men and women began settling in “Acadie,” (now Nova Scotia, Canada) and they were called Acadians.
Route traveled from France to Canada.

After the French Acadians settled in “Acadie,” ownership of the colony changed hands between the English and French several times. The Acadians tried to remain neutral and were called “French Neutrals.”

Each wanted ownership of the area. After a century, in 1713, Great Britain acquired permanent control of “Acadie.” A group of Acadians moved to other areas controlled by France, but most remained as British subjects.

The British felt compelled that to establish their sovereignty in the Canadian region. They felt a need to colonize the area with British subjects. So expulsion of French Acadian people was what the British believed needed to be done. The forced removal of Acadians was cruel and is now called ethnic cleansing or genocide.

After being in “Acadie” for 150 years, the Acadians were faced with a cruel and major upheaval.

On July 28, 1755, Charles Lawrence, the British governor of “Acadie” ordered what many call the “The Great Upheaval” Other terms used are Great Expulsion, The Deportation, the Acadian Expulsion, or to the deportees, Le Grand Dérangement.

The British began the forced removal of the Acadians from their homeland in 1755. To prevent their return, houses and farms were burned.

Acadians were taken into custody by British officers and then herded onto British ships and were exiled. Some Acadians escaped led by Joseph Beausoleil Broussard. They mounted a guerilla war campaign against the British.

Le Grand Dérangement dispersed the Acadians to British colonies along North America’s eastern coast. Some groups refused to receive them and they were sent to England.


Acadian families were separated and shipped to various destinations including seven British American colonies:
 Connecticut
 New York
 Pennsylvania
 Maryland
 Massachusetts
 South Carolina
 Georgia

After the war, some were sent to French Caribbean (Antilles, Martinique, St. Domingue), while others went back to France.

Many families were separated as men and boys were imprisoned. Many Acadians under twenty-one years old were made servants to farmers in Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. Others were shipped to South Carolina and Georgia. Of those sent to South Carolina, reportedly only one in ten survived.

Exiled Acadians numbered more than 12,000. Some historians estimate that close of fifty percent of these people died as a direct consequence of the expulsion, also called the Diaspora.

In "Great and Noble Scheme", Dr. John Mac Faragher, history Professor at Yale, wrote: "The operation carried out by Anglo-American forces in 1755 included the forced deportation of civilian populations, the cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and the plunder and wanton destruction of communities, practices now defined as 'crimes against humanity' and 'ethnic cleansing. "

In 1764, after the war, more Acadians began straggling to Louisiana, mostly from the French West Indies and Maryland. The first significant influx was during 1765. These Acadians were led to Louisiana by Joseph Beausoleil Broussard.

Some exiled groups were unhappy and decide to move.

Of those, some found their way to south Louisiana and began settling in the rural areas west of New Orleans.

By the early 1800’s, nearly 4,000 Acadians had arrived and settled in Louisiana.
• Acadian settlement locations included:
• St. John Parish
• St. James Parish
• Attakapas region (St. Martin Parish)
• St. Gabriel, Louisiana
• Vidalia (old location)
• Natchitoches (settlers
• relocated to Opelousas)
• Bayou Lafourche area

Some moved beyond the Atchafalaya Basin onto southwest Louisiana’s prairies to raise cattle and rice. Through the years, the French language changed as did their architecture, music, and food.

Cajuns today are renowned for their unique culture, music, food, and traditions.

Over time the Acadians in Louisiana became known as “Cajuns” (which is an English word) as they adapted to their new home and its environment.

The immigration to Louisiana of different cultures created a different culture; however the Cajun culture remained dominant.

Cajuns are credited for starting the cattle industry. Cajuns had the first cattle brand registered in Louisiana's official brand book.

During 1785 on seven ships, the next major wave of 2,000 Acadians arrived in Louisiana from France.

By 1785, three Catholic parishes had been established for Cajuns.

In 1843, Alexander Mouton was elected the first Acadian governor of Louisiana. He was Louisiana’s 12th Governor.

Cajun subsistence rice cultivation grew into one of Louisiana's main industries.

In 1867, Cajuns established the first shrimp canning operation. Shrimp continue to be the Cajun's major fishing industry.

So who are Cajuns?

Cajuns are an ethnic group of the descendants of Acadian exiles.

Today, the Cajuns make up a significant portion of south Louisiana's population. Their Cajun and Acadian legacy has undoubtedly had an impact the state's culture.

Many changes have occurred through the journey of this group, but the one constant of the Acadian heritage has been a true pride in their roots. A legacy that will forever lie in their ancestor’s struggles for survival.