Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
Acadian refers to the inhabitants of Acadia or their descendants. Acadia was an early seventeeth century French colony settled in North America in what is now Nova Scotia. Frequently caught in territorial battles between England and France and variously governed, the Acadians were finally burned out and expelled by the British in 1755. Some escaped to other areas of the Canadian provinces and some immigrated to Louisiana where they became known as Cajuns. It is thought the word Cajun derives from a regional pronunciation of Acadian.
Acadian cultural traditions date back the colonial period and refer to the French language, Catholicism, rural life, music, and cuisine. In many cases the Acadian identity disappeared as Acadian exiles blended with other cultures. The Louisiana immigrants remained the most in-tact, but even there regional differences in language and culture exist. Today, Acadians are seen as a distinct ethnic minority and a number of Internet web sites are devoted to helping researchers trace their Acadian heritage. Genealogy Today offers access to The Acadian-Cajun Family database.