Acadians are the descendants of the 17th Century French Colonists who migrated and settled in Acadia. The Acadian colony was located in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and present day Maine. Acadia was a distinct separate colony of New France. The Acadians and Quebecois, while they started out together as one culture, slowly developed two separate cultures including a different French language and dialect.
The Acadians lived 80 years in Acadia until the conquest of Acadia in 1710 by the British. They lived under the British rule for the next forty-five years. During the French and Indian War, the British and New England legislators believed that the Acadians were aiding the French, which led to the Great Expulsion of 1755-1764. During this time the British forced approximately 11,500 Acadians from their homes and land, killing one-third of their population with either disease or drowning.
was a French politician who helped the Acadians to move from Acadia to Louisiana. This is where the Cajun culture began, in Spanish Colonial Louisiana. Peyroux secured a commission and pension from Spain. He helped move the Acadians to Louisiana, where they were given leave, by acting Governor Charles Aubry, to move and farm in the Attakapas area.
Through the next ten years, the Acadians made trades to work in Cattle stock and to receive some of the stock in return for their work. This deal allowed the Acadians to learn the layout of the land, learn how to farm on it, and also how to raise livestock, on a mostly bayou area. After 10-15 years of learning to work the land with both farming and livestock raising, the Acadians grew into two strong sub-communities. The sub-communities both sold their wares to New Orleans and they were the Attakapas Acadians, who sold cattle, and the River Acadians, who sold their farm produce.
When the French Revolution Started and Spain declared war on France, both sides urged the Acadians to join their side. The Acadians, despite their sense of loyalty to the French because of their heritage, decided to stay out of the conflict. This was because of both their relations with the Spanish and because the lack of support the Acadians received from the French during the Great Expulsion.
In the 1780s, the Acadians started to move further and further down the bayous. The biggest discovery of this time period and continued migration of the Acadian people was the discovery of Sugar Cane and what it could become. The Bore Plantation near New Orleans discovered a refining process of boiling the cane juice until it reached granulation point, and this brought the second main money maker to Louisiana after cotton.
In 1814, H.M. Breckenridge wrote that “lands have risen in price, since they have grown in demand for sugar plantations, and many of the petit (little) habitants bought out.” The number of slaves in Louisiana measured 5 slaves to 1 white person. However, the Acadian people rarely owned slaves because of their oppression by the English, and they did not want to do the same thing to another culture. The Acadian people did not care to raise livestock or crops to grow rich, instead they grew and raised enough for their own consumption. To the English, this carefree lifestyle that the Acadians lived was considered lazy.
The English were actually the ones who started addressing the Acadian people as Cajun. This was because the French pronunciation of “A” was softly spoken and the “di” equally sounded like a “J.” The Cajun/Acadian culture continued to take root in Louisiana and turned into a strong and dominant culture. When marriages between Cajun people and other cultures occurred, the spouses would soon be cooking Gumbo, dancing to Cajun Zydeco music, and speaking Cajun French.
Still to this day the Cajun Culture is a strong impact to the outside world, and all because they refused to give up when they were beaten, instead they picked themselves up and moved on to greener pastures. Since the food, Cajun music, and swamp tours have become so popular, tourists have been flocking to visit and experience the Cajun Culture.