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What Is A Cajun?

Between the red hills of North Louisiana and the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, lives the Cajun. Among the marshes and the bayous, the tall oaks and whispering moss he carries on the traditions of his hardy Nova Scotian ancestors, les Acadiens, whose flight from persecution brought them to the lush South Louisiana soil over two centuries ago.

In other parts of the world, little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, while little boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails. Little Cajun children - or, Acadian, if you will - are made of gumbo, boudin, sauce piquante, crawfish stew, and Oreilles de Cochon. A Cajun child is given bayous to fish in, marshes to trap in, room to grow in and churches to worship in.

A Cajun likes fiddles and accordions in his music, plenty of pepper in his courtbouillon, shrimp in his nets, speed in his horses, neighborliness in his neighbors and love in his home.

A Cajun dislikes: people who don't laugh enough, fish enough, or enjoy enough of all the good things God has given to the Cajun Country. He doesn't like to be hurried when he's resting or distracted when he's working. He doesn't like to see people unhappy, and he'll do all he can or give all he has to bring a smile to a face stricken with sadness.

A Cajun likes to dance and laugh and sing when his week of hard work has ended. And just as Saturday night at the fais-do-do replenishes his store of energy and his personal balance so he can meet the next week's chores with vigor. Sunday at Church refreshes his spiritual and moral values and keeps strong his always sustaining faith.

A link with a proud past, a Cajun is a man of tolerance who will let the world go its way if the world will let him go his. He is a man of great friendliness who will give you the crawfish off his table, the Sac-au-Lait off his hook or the shirt off his back.

But if you cross a Cajun, he'll give you the back of his hand or the toe of his boot. If he likes you, he'll give you his whole wide, wonderful world. If he doesn't, he'll give you a wide berth.

A Cajun is a complex person, with as many ingredients in his makeup as there are in the gumbo Mama makes for special company. He has tolerance for those who earn it, charity for those who need it, a smile for those who will return it and love for all who will share it.

BUT ... A Cajun can be as stubborn as a mule and as ornery as an alligator. If he sets his head on something, he'll fight a circle saw before he'll yield to your opinions. You'd as well argue with a fence post as try to change the mind of a Cajun.

And, as fun-loving as he is, a Cajun can work as long and hard as any man. He carved out 'Acadiana" by hand, from the swamps and marshes and uncultivated prairies. But when the work is done and the argument ended, a Cajun can sweep you right into a wonderful world of, joie de vivre with an accordion chorus of Jolie Blonde," and a handful of little words" "Laissez les bon temps rouler!" Let the good times roll!

HAMM Copyright 1972


The Word "Cajun"

The word "cajun" is a derivative of the original
French pronunciation of Acadian: "A-ca-jan".
The Cajun people are descendents of the Acadians
who once settled in the French province of Acadia
(now known as Nova Scotia).

Not long after they settled that area in the 1600s,
the area became a British possession.
When France and England became involved in
wartime activities in 1755 the British authorities
demanded that the Acadians renounce their Roman Catholic faith
and swear allegiance to the Crown.

When they refused they were forced into exile,
shipped to the New England colonies, the West Indies or back to France.
Many died at sea, while others wandered for years before
they found out about the predominantly French territory of Louisiana.

In 1784, the King of Spain allowed the exiles to settle in south Louisiana.
Small farms and fishing and trapping villages were established along
the Mississippi River and the many bayous and swamplands of southern Louisiana.

The official Cajun Country covers 22 parishes and extends from
the Louisiana coast north to just south of Alexandria.
Lafayette is the unofficial capital of "Acadiana."

Cajuns are known for their "joie de vivre" (joy of living).
Their music and food are both rich in tradition and flavor.

The food is quite often spicy and usually makes use
of regionally plentiful provisions such as seafood, wild game, and rice.
Some of the more popular dishes include jambalaya, gumbo,
turtle stew, andouille sausage, boudin (a pork and rice sausage),
cochon du lait, boiled crabs and crawfish, and seafood etouffee and bisque.

Cajun music can be lively, melancholy or both at the same time.
The traditional instruments are fiddle, accordion and triangle.
Like the spoken language of the Cajuns, the lyrics
of their songs are part French, part English.

Other recognizable symbols of Cajun Country are pirogues (canoes),
Spanish moss, alligators, crabs, crawfish, oysters,
shrimp, swamps, and bayous.


Cajun Blood

They sailed out of Nova Scotia in 1755
From the port holes of the prison ships
They watched their homelands die
Their homes, their mills, their churches
all burning to the ground
' Cause they bent their knees for Jesus
But the wouldn't bow for the crown

Cajun Blood, thick as bayou water
Runs through the sons and daughters
And the fathers of the land
Cajun Blood, like a never ending river
Let it run forever, Lord
don't ever stop the flow of Cajun Blood

They landed up on swampy ground
Just south of New Orleans
With all they needed to survive
Already in their veins
On the land that no one wanted
They planted their own seed
The Thibodeaux's and the Arceneaux's
And the last of a dying breed

Through it all they stuck together,
They made the sacrifice
They know the cost of Freedom,
'Cause they have paid the price
in Cajun Blood

Thanks Thib, for the use of the Cajun Blood poem.
Please visit his Cajun site. Cajun's Bayou Palace

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