Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History » French  
ACADIAN-CAJUN Definition
So, what does this term 'Acadian-Cajun' mean? Usually, the word Cajun is used to describe those French people from south Louisiana. But the term Acadian is sometimes used; and when one looks into it, they find that their ancestors in fact were Acadians from Canada. Acadians and Cajuns are the same ... yet they are different. The Acadians were French settlers who settled the area (now known as Nova Scotia) in the 1600's. In the mid 18th century, they were exiled by the British. Over the following 30 years, several thousand of the exiled Acadians made their way to south Louisiana.

Over the next 100+ years, the Acadians became the dominant culture in certain areas of south Louisiana. They retained much of their culture, and absorbed some of the other cultural influences. The German, Spanish, French, English, Indian and other cultures added to the Acadian culture to produce the Cajun culture. The word "Cajun" comes from the word "Acadian", just as "Injun" is a variant of the word "Indian."

So, the Acadians were French settlers in 17th-18th century Canada. When they were exiled, they were no longer a single group. But the Acadian people survived in other cultures ... sometimes merging into those cultures, and sometimes (as in south Louisiana) being a dominant culture. Today's Cajuns may have roots that go back to the Acadians. But along the way, you will probably find German, French, Spanish, etc. ancestors that merged with the Acadians.

If you need additional information on researching Acadian-Cajun ancestors, the Center for Louisiana Studies at USL has published a book, Acadian-Cajun Genealogy: Step by Step by Timothy Hebert.

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