In the 1750s, the British governor of Canada decided that he did not want the French people that settled in Nova Scotia to remain in his territory so, he ordered them to leave. The story goes that he rounded them up and placed them on ships and dropped them off along the East Coast of the area of North America that would become the United States. The governor did not care if he was splitting up families in fact he did not want them together. During the trip, over half the people died on the ships or soon after being dropped off. When the Acadians reached land, they were not accepted by the British people who had settled there. They were told about a new unsettled land in Louisiana in an area that would later be known as Acadiana. Large numbers of Acadians were drawn to the area in hopes of being accepted by the French settlers that had settled there. When they arrived in South Louisiana, the thought was that they would run out the Native Americans that were living in the area. In 1762, Spain took over control of Louisiana and the areas to the north. The Acadians were again faced with the threat of being forced out of their land. However, the Spanish were tolerated of the French-speaking people and wanted to finish settling the land. To do this, the Spanish offered to bring the Acadians to any area that they wanted to go, some went to New Orleans and the rest settled in the areas all the way up to the area known toady as St. Martinville. This area is known as Acadiana or Cajun Country. Pg. 81
The Cajuns language roots began with French and as they lived in the area, the language was accompanied by a deep southern accent. The founding families of the Acadians who first settled in Acadiana referred to themselves as Acadians, but the English-speaking people could not say the word, so they began to call them, “Cajuns”. The Acadians who settled near New Orleans were assimilated with African American slave refugees from the Caribbean. The African Americans who settled there spoke French, but they were referred to by the “Cajuns” as “Creoles”. In 1803, when the United States bought the Louisiana Purchase from France, the Americans who were predominantly English-speaking and mandated that English would be the language spoken. The Acadians were again under the oppressive rule of English-speaking rulers. This caused most of the Cajuns and Creoles to deny their cultural identities. Pg. 82
The Cajuns and Creoles kept their history alive through ballads or songs. Most songs tell a story, while Cajun songs tell an emotion about an event or history. Superstition was also another factor in their songs and folklores. The Creoles’ songs were folklore about the “loup garon”, the werewolf. The song talks about how the werewolf was a little boy who was bitten by a werewolf and killed ten people. One of the townspeople devised a way to kill it by dipping his bullets into a mixture of gumbo rue and kissed by a Virgin. He townsman went into the woods and he and the werewolf were never seen again. Pg. 85-86
Leonard Deutsch, Dave Peyton. “Cajun Culture – an Interview.” Oxford Journals, 1979: 81-82, 85-86.
Cajun French has withstood an unpopular and disenchanted history. From the beginning of their history in Nova Scotia, the English-speaking people have pressure the Acadians to convert to their practices and language. The language and music were considered by the English-speaking people as backwoods and simple. Their culture was stigmatized and, in some cases, off-limits to the Acadians. Even though some viewed the Acadians as intruders in South Louisiana, they were able to colonize in the less hospitable grasslands and bayous. Despite the abuse from their English-speaking neighbors, they were able to preserve their history and cultural sense in their music. Their music was sung in Cajun French. pg.283
Acadians’ history has been filled with repeated displacement, loss and longing to belong. These experiences have manifested themselves in musical and poetic ways. Because of the historical sense of loss and unacceptance from the English-speaking people, Acadians began looking for other areas to settle. This caused some resentment towards them by the remaining Acadians. The Acadians began to sing songs about the ones who left Acadiana to go to places, such as Texas in search of better opportunities. The remaining Acadians’ sung about how the ones who left were trying to detach themselves from the stigma of being Cajuns. The most well-known phrase that is in many songs is, “tu m’as quitte pour t’en aller”. pg. 286-287