Cajuns and Their Acadian Ancestors: A Young Reader's History traces the four-hundred-year history of this distinct American ethnic group. While written in a format comprehensible to junior-high and high-school students, it will prove appealing and informative as well to adult readers seeking a one-volume exploration of these remarkable people and their predecessors.
The narrative follows the Cajuns' early ancestors, the Acadians, from seventeenth-century France to Nova Scotia, where they flourished until British soldiers expelled them in a tragic event called Le Grand Dérangement (The Great Upheaval)—an episode regarded by many historians as an instance of ethnic cleansing or genocide. Up to one-half of the Acadian population died from disease, starvation, exposure, or outright violence in the expulsion. Nearly three thousand survivors journeyed through the thirteen American colonies to Spanish-controlled Louisiana. There they resettled, intermarried with members of the local population, and evolved into the Cajun people, who today number over a half-million. Since their arrival in Louisiana, the Cajuns have developed an unmistakable identity and a strong sense of ethnic pride.
In recent decades they have contributed their exotic cuisine and accordion-and-fiddle dance music to American popular culture. Cajuns and Their Acadian Ancestors: A Young Reader's History includes numerous images and over a dozen sidebars on topics ranging from Cajun music to Mardi Gras.
Shane K. Bernard is historian and curator of McIlhenny Company, producers of TABASCO® brand pepper sauce, and Avery Island, Inc. He is the author of Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues; The Cajuns: Americanization of a People; and TABASCO®: An Illustrated History.