We’re in Cajun country, Lafayette is the right place to learn about their history. First stop: the exhibit at the cultural center. Second stop: Vermilionville, a reconstitution of a Cajun village using real cajun houses from the time period of 1765 to 1890.
What’s the meaning of Cajun? It comes from the word Acadian.
L’Arcadie: French spelling of a mythical Greek paradise.
L’Acadie: French colony in Eastern Canada.
Acadien: Resident of Acadie.
Cadien: Simplified pronunciation of Acadien.
Cajun: English pronunciation of Cadien.
The Cajun are French that emigrated to Acadia in Canada (now Nova Scotia) starting in 1605. The area became British in 1715 but the Acadiens didn’t want to pledge allegiance so the English exiled them. This was the “grand dérangement”. The cajuns then started migrating to Louisiana which was a French settlement. Not well accepted by the local creoles they settled in the bayous (the swampy river outlets). Louisiana became Spanish in 1762 but Spain was only acting as an owner of the land and let the acadians and creoles be as frenchy as they wanted. After Louisiana was sold to the US, the french language was banned in schools. Now the Cajun heritage seems strong even though not many speak the language anymore. They share their culture with the creoles (the french speaking immigrants that aren’t Cajuns basically, a lot are from the West Indies). Their zydeco music resonates everywhere. And their food with French, Spanish and Caribean influences is renowned internationally.