Acadians - History, Settlement patterns, Internal migration, Camps, Acculturation and Assimilation
LSU Health New Orleans Health Sciences Center. How did we go from Acadia, "a place up in Canada," to Cajun, a vital element in the spicy identity of. Explore the history and difference between cajun versus creole cuisine. With the British Conquest of Acadia in the early s, the Acadians were forcibly who were born to settlers in French colonial Louisiana, specifically in New Orleans. Lappas on Mathis-Moser and Bischof, 'Acadians and Cajuns: The Politics and the complicated relationship between maritime Acadia and the descendents of the University of Innsbruck and CenterAustria at the University of New Orleans.
Cajuns generally viewed themselves as superior to the poor rural Whites referred to as Rednecks. Settlements Acadian settlements in the past varied in size, style, and structure among the four major environmental zones. Settlements included isolated houses, small farms, towns, ranches, and families living on houseboats.
Population relocations, the arrival of non-Cajuns, and changes in economic activities have all produced changes in settlement patterns. In recent years, there has been a marked trend to settlement in towns and cities through migration from the rural areas.
The Acadian cottage, a small, nearly square dwelling with a covered front porch and high-pitched roof, was a distintively Cajun house type in the s. It was raised a few feet above the ground and constructed from cypress wood and infilled with clay and moss.
Some later styles of dwellings were elaborations on the basic style, though all have now been replaced by modern-style homes made from mass-produced materials.
Economy Subsistence and Commercial Activities. In Canada, the Acadians lived by farming wheat, oats, rye, vegetablesraising cattle, and fishing, and by selling surplus crops and cattle and buying manufactured products.Louisiana Creole and Cajuns: What's the Difference? Race, Ethnicity, History and Genetics
Louisiana had a markedly different environment, with four environmental regions, none exactly the same as Acadia. These new environments led to the development of new subsistence and commercial pursuits in Louisiana as well as variation in activities from one region to another. In the levee-land region, the early Cajun settlers grew maize and rice for consumption and cotton for sale. They also grew vegetables and raised cattle.
Non-Cajuns began settling in the region aroundhowever, and took much of the land for large plantations. Most Cajuns moved elsewhere; those that stayed lived by subsistence farming in the backwaters until well into the twentieth century.
In the swampland region, fishing and the hunting and gathering of crawfish, ducks, crabs, turtles, frogs, and moss were the major economic activities. By the late s, most Cajuns in this region were involved in the commercial fishing industry, and many still are today, though they have modernized their equipment and methods and often live outside the swamps. The Cajuns who settled on the Louisiana prairies developed two economic adaptations. Those in the east grew maize and cotton, supplemented by sweet potatoes.
Those in the west grew rice and raised cattle, with local variation in terms of which was the more important. In the marshland region, on the Chernier Plain, Cajuns raised cattle, trapped, and Gardened; on the Deltaic Plain they farmed, fished, hunted, and trapped.
Regular contact with the outside economy, which influenced all regions by abouthas changed the traditional economy. Cattle ranching has declined, and sugar cane, rice, cotton, and maize are now the major crops. As towns have developed and compulsory education laws have been enforced, Cajuns have been employed in service-sector jobs, and many now work in the oil and gas industries that have entered the southern part of the region.
With public interest in the Cajuns as a folk culture developing in the s, tourism has also become a source of income. Industrial Arts, Aspects of the traditional subsistence technology of the s that draw attention today are mainly adaptations to life in the swamp and marshlands.
The traditional technology has been modernized, although traditional knowledge and skills are still valued.
Aspects of the traditional technology that are of interest today are the Cajun cottage, the various tools and techniques used in collecting crawfish, crabs, and moss, and the pirogue a narrow canoe made from a dugout log or planks. The intinerant traders marchand-charette who once supplied most household supplies are a thing of the past. Most Cajun families are now integrated into the mainstream economy and purchase goods and services. The traditional economy centered on cooperation among members of the extended family and kindred.
Men generally had responsibility for subsistence activities, and women managed the household. As the Cajuns have been drawn into American society, traditional sex roles have weakened, with women now working outside the home and often taking the lead in "Americanizing" the family.
Despite their early settlement in Louisiana, Cajuns own relatively little land. This is the result of a number of factors, including dishonest land agents, Cajun ignorance or misunderstanding of real estate laws, and patrilineal inheritance of property coupled with patrilocal residence which meant that once sizable farms were divided into smaller and smaller units over the generations.
Today, lumbering, fossil fuel, and agricultural corporations own much land in the Cajun region, and in some locales, many Cajuns lease the land they farm. Kinship The basic social and economic unit in traditional times was the patrilineally extended family, whose members often lived near one another.
Nearby residence was encouraged by Patrilocal postmarital residence which involved fathers giving newly married sons a piece of the family land. Wider ties were also maintained with the local community, which often involved homesteads located some miles from one another.
Preferential community endogamy meant that others in the community often included the wife's kin. People were involved with this kinship network throughout their lives. Marriage and Family Marriage and Domestic Unit. Although community and in-group endogamy was preferred, some women did marry non-Cajun men who were rapidly and easily assimilated into the group. Marriage usually occurred at a young age. Divorce was rare and difficult to justify.
Although the nuclear family unit lived in the same dwelling as part of the extended family, the extended family was the basic social and economic unit. Kin worked together, helped build each other's houses, went to the same church, had to approve the marriage of female kin, cared for each other's children, and socialized and celebrated together.
Both the country butchery la boucherie de campagnewhere kin met every few days to butcher hogs for meat, and the weekly public dance fais do-do provided opportunities for regular socializing by family members.
Men were the major decision makers in their homes, but if a man died, his wife, not his sons, assumed control. Children lived at home until they married. This traditional pattern of marriage and family began to change after World War I and then changed even more rapidly after World War II.
Today, nuclear families have replaced extended ones, with economic ties now far less important than social ones in kinship groups. Husbands no longer dominate families, as women work outside the home and establish lives for themselves independent of their families.
The prohibition of the teaching of French in Louisiana schools has created a generation gap in some families with grandparents speaking Cajun French, parents speaking some Cajun French, and the grandchildren speaking only English. Marriage to outsiders has also become more frequent, and is often the reverse of the former pattern, with Cajun men now marrying non-Cajun women who acculturate their husbands into mainstream society.
Traditionally, children were raised by the extended family. Cajuns rejected formal education outside the home except for instruction provided by the church. Parents emphasized the teaching of economic and domestic skills and participation in the activities of the kinship network. In school attendance up to age fifteen became compulsory, although the law was not rigorously enforced until Public school education played a major role in weakening the traditional culture, as it resulted in many children never learning or even forgetting Cajun French and provided skills and knowledge useful in mainstream society, thus giving younger Cajuns the opportunity for upward socioeconomic mobility.
Today, Cajun children attend both public and parochial schools and tens of thousands participate in French-language programs in elementary schools. Sociopolitical Organization Social Organization.
Cajuns and Creoles
Social cohesiveness in Cajun Communities as well as a general sense of being Cajun was maintained through various informal mechanisms that brought Cajuns together both physically and symbolically. The Roman Catholic church was a major unifying force, as it provided the belief system that supported many Cajun practices as well as differentiated Cajuns from their mostly Protestant neighbors. As noted above, the extended family and the somewhat larger kinship network were the basic social groupings in Cajun society.
These social units were maintained through daily participation of members and through regularly scheduled get-togethers such as the boucherie and the fais do-do and the cockfights that brought the men together. There was no formal class structure, though a Cajun elite, the "Genteel Acadians" emerged in the early s. They were mainly a few families who had become wealthy as farmers, merchants, or professionals. They tended to marry non-Cajuns, lived among Anglos and Creoles, and looked down upon the poor, rural Cajuns.
Within the Cajun group in general, there was a continuum of wealth, though most were poor.
Today, as the Cajuns have shifted from being a distinct cultural group to an ethnic group, group cohesiveness has weakened, with a sense of "being Cajun" derived from Membership in a group that shares a common tradition. There was no overarching political structure governing Cajun life, nor was there any purely Cajun political organization at the local level.
Rather, Cajuns generally participated in Louisiana and national politics as voters. 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.
This is the difference between Cajun and Creole
What they did have was a strong bond with other Acadians which was a good thing since they also found themselves at the bottom rung of white society.
Their dialect was different from other Frenchmen who looked down on them, as did many of the German, Spanish and eventually Anglo-American settlers in Louisiana. There was some intermarriage with other ethnic groups, but it was minimal. That is, until the Civil War changed everything. The massive destruction caused by the war had the effect of eliminating many of the social and class distinctions of the antebellum South.
It no longer seemed relevant to single out the Acadians as poor. Indeed their resiliency in the face of poverty and their rich family life may have made Acadians more attractive. The Cajuns remained largely un-Americanized, says Bernard, until U. Swept up in the period's intense patriotism, Cajuns supported the massive war effort. In so doing Cajun GIs experienced a world much larger than the one back in Acadiana, while loved ones on the homefront pulled together to do their part for victory.
The war experience coupled with educational and housing programs offered to returning veterans opened up a vast new world of opportunities. This caused a gradual migration away from small, exclusively French-speaking communities into a more modern, mainstream world.