Sunday, March 18, 2012

Acadian Villages

One of the main reasons we (well...really...me) wanted to visit and spend some time in Louisiana was to learn more about the Acadians...what we call Cajuns today. I was fascinated by their food, their joie de vivre (love of living), their dancing, their resolution to recreate their culture in Louisiana, and, most of all, their music.

They were French people who migrated to Nova Scotia area around 1625-1650 and settled in what they called Acadie (idyllic place).


They eventually got deported and dispersed by the English around 1775 to many parts of America, France and other places. The British though they were going to be a menance to their "empire". Plus they would not convert away from Catholosism although the Acadians, after so many generations in Acadie, were neither French nor English. The deported Acadians suffered greatly in the Colonies as no one wanted them to be there. Over half of the 10,000 died in transit or over the next few years.


I bought a short book that chronicled a number of the people who were scattered throughout the Colonies.




The Acadians, beyond all odds, emigrated to Louisiana, sent for their families and relatives, and begun re-establishing their culture in a much different place than Nova. And today they survive and prosper, not by looking for handouts for favors, but by their own industriousness and hard work. This is what I came to discover.

http://www.acadian-cajun.com/origin.htm

They were called Acadians, shortened to Cadians and then, because Cadians was hard to pronounce, they became Cajuns.

We went to a couple of recreated Acadian villages to see their homes and how they lived. Here are a few examples.






Notice the outside staircase leading to the upper room. This upstairs sleeping area for the boys was called the garçonniere.
http://www.acadian-cajun.com/chousing.htm



Baby's crib

back entrance

another upstairs entry

See the slanted shingles at the top? That is to keep the wind from driving the rain under the topmost shingles and rotting them.

This front porch style was common in most homes. As we travelled throughout Cajun country, we saw this style everywhere. Once we left Louisiana, we never saw it again.


They did not live in villages like this. This was a recreation of homes and a bayou. They farmed the land, hunted, fished and lived off the land.






A pirogue is a small, flat-bottomed boat. These boats are not usually intended for overnight travel but are light and small enough to be easily taken onto land. The design also allows the pirogue to move through the very shallow water of marshes and be easily turned over to drain any water that may get into the boat. A pirogue has "hard chines". This means that instead of a smooth curve from the gunwales to the keel there is often a flat bottom which meets the plane of the side. It is propelled by using a push pole in shallow water.

More of the Cajun style home.


The reason for these porch design was to make a place for people to get out of the hot, humid house as well as keep out of the thunderstorms and rain. Many times the outside became an additional bedroom to sleep in the hot summer nights.

I am sitting with one of the staff that is showing me how he is making a fish net. The people that worked at the Acadian Village were a wealth of information and history about the Acadians. They all can trace their liniage back to the original people who settled in Acadie back in the 1600s.

I've posted a few more photos of similar structures here should you want to view them.

https://picasaweb.google.com/100376105788369441882/Acadian#

There are so few places in the United States that have a living, breathing culture still alive that can date themselves back to the 1600s. The Acadians...Cajuns....are one of those. Sometime take a visit and soak it all in. You'll come to love their joie de vivre too !

Kim and Steve

1 comment:

  1. Gotta love those people, Lloyd.

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