a brief history of the cajuns

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Cajuns and their culture are indigenous to Louisiana.

When learning about Cajun culture there is a topic that should be appreciated and that is Cajun culture is indigenous to Louisiana. What is meant by indigenous is that the Cajun culture developed in Louisiana and exists nowhere else in the world. 

Let's start from the beginning.

By tracing the roots of the Cajun people, one will need to understand their earlier history in Acadia—what is today called Nova Scotia. In 1604 C.E., the first French Europeans began to settle in Acadia. They settle into their new land and became prosperous. In time they became known as Acadians.  

  

The Acadians maintained their French language, Catholic faith, customs, and traditions. Although the Acadians were of French heritage, they tried to stay neutral amid the fighting between France and England over the control of Acadia. 


Eventually, the British would defeat the French in Acadia and in 1713 C.E., England took control of Acadia. Under this control by the British there was a treaty called the Treaty of Utrecht, which was signed in the Dutch city of Utrecht. During the early years after the treaty, the Acadians could practice their faith and own land as British subjects. 


However, in 1730 C.E., the Acadians made a conditional oath of allegiance by pledging to remain neutral between fighting among the British and French—with the agreement that they would not take up arms against the French in Canada.

The British forcefully expel the Acadians from Acadia.

Then, in 1755 C.E., 151 years after settling in Acadia, the French of Acadia were forcibly expelled from their land by the British Governor Charles Lawrence.  This ethnic cleansing by the British was devastating as it caused the Acadians to forfeit their land and their prosperity. The only things they could take were their money and personal household belongings.  Some of the exiled Acadians made their way to the interior area of French-Canadian Territory while others lived with the Micmac Indians and fought a guerrilla war against the British. However, most were scattered along the Atlantic coast in the British colonies.

A new beginning

Then, in 1764, large groups of Acadians began to arrive in Louisiana, which was a colony of Spain at the time, and settling along the Mississippi river. Since the Spaniards had recently acquired the Louisiana Territory from the French, they were anxious to settle this vast new territory hence the giving of the land grants to the Acadians. 


Within a few decades, thousands of Acadians began to settle in Louisiana. The Acadians who made it to Louisiana were ready for the new lands as they settled in the swamps, bayous, and unwanted prairies. Just as in Acadia, they farmed, fished, trapped, and traded in their new land.


The fist settlements were along Bayou Teche and later Bayou Vermilion. They eventually migrated northward and westward into the prairies of south-central Louisiana. They established farms, cattle ranches, and homesteads all along the banks of the rivers and water ways of the open grasslands of the areas.



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