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Who Are The People Called

Cajuns ?

Louisiana

       

        Someone once told me what the meaning of a Cajun was.  To some of  you this might sound offensive but I'll try to explain.  Anyway the definition was: a Cajun is someone who makes his living trapping, fishing, or farming a few acres.  His interest are drinking beer (or whiskey), eating, and having a good time.  He is also known as a crude ignorant backwoodsman who speaks very little English or none at all.  Well there might be a few of this type of Cajuns but more than likely they are a minority and in no way are Cajuns like that !!!

        Let me give you a little background of the Cajun people.  The Cajun heritage has been long lived any many are proud.  You see back in 1604 when Nova Scotia was colonized by the first French settlers, was when their heritage began.  They fought as the first Americans did to colonize the new world.  They also brought with them the culture and language of France to their newly adopted land.  They were proud.

        The Cajuns didn't know it at this time but with the Treaty of Utrech in 1713, England gained control of Nova Scotia.  Life became miserable for the Cajuns.  Most of the Cajuns were French Catholics trying to live under English Protestants, the Cajuns were despised and persecuted.  Depending on where you read your material, between 6000 and 10,000 Cajuns were deported to the American colonies.  Life was not much better for them there either.  Most of the American colonies had laws prohibiting Catholics to live within their borders.  So since most Cajuns are Catholic, they began a new journey.   Some sought refuge in the Caribbean and some went into the American wilderness to live among the Indians.  Others were deported to England and ended up in France.   From all these groups of Cajuns, the refugees somehow managed to make their way to Louisiana.  There they founded and established their own communities.  The geographical area was something astounding to them, the climate was totally than what they were used to and the plants and animals they were surrounded by, for which they had no names for in their language.  This is when Cajuns created their own language and culture.  The way they had to cook was different because the ingredients that they were used to were now unavailable to them.  These ingredients were replaced by seafood and game that is abundant in Southern Louisiana.  You still have the small meat markets and the family-owned stores in Southern Louisiana today in testimony of the impact this had on the lives of Cajuns.  As the Cajuns came to the bayous, the Indians were having a hard time pronouncing "Acadian" so the name "Cajun" was adopted because it was easier to pronounce.

        The words Acadian and Cajun do not have the same meaning.  Acadian refers to all the descendants of the real Acadians no matter where they live and a Cajun refers to only those whose Acadian ancestors came to Louisiana after the eviction of 1755.  To sum it up, it goes like this:  All Cajuns are Acadians but not all Acadians are Cajun!!!

        Thousands of Acadians live throughout the United States and Canada but are not Cajuns.  The title "Cajun" is applied to those people, regardless of national origin, who intermarried with Cajuns and have been absorbed into the Cajun culture and speak the Cajun language.

        Most historians agree that the Cajuns culture they developed is one of the most impressive and unique in the world.  Cajuns have played a significant role in our American history as they struggled to survive, historians agree.  The Cajun people stuck together throughout the rebirth of Acadiana.  They minded their own business, supported each other, and kept apart from the rest of the world.  By the time the 20th century rolled around and the oil came into play, many Cajuns became rich but yet it did not change them very much.  They are hard working, fun loving, and God fearing people.  Today over a million of these French speaking people still exist.  This is attributed to their determination and power of human will.  To my knowledge this is still true today.

        To sum it up, Cajuns are always ready with a smile, a handshake, and a joke for anyone who will accept it.  Cajuns would give you the shirt off their back or the beer out of their glass (well maybe one out of the frig).

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