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September 12, 2005

Understanding your new cajun guests and neighbors

Katrina has scattered cajuns like dandelion seeds in the wind. We even have some in our school district here in the mountains of Colorado. (Hope y'all brought some jackets. It snows here in September.) My neighbors even took in a family of five of them. We're pleased as punch to have them.

Some of you may be considering adopting a colony of Louisiana transplants yourself, but are unfamiliar with the peculiar species of people that populates Southern Louisiana. For the uninitiated, I present exceprts from RooMaN's salutation from an authentic Lousiania denizen.

Dear America,

I suppose we should introduce ourselves: We're South Louisiana.

First of all, we thank you. For your money, your water, your food, your prayers, your boats and buses and the men and women of your National Guards, fire departments, hospitals and everyone else who has come to our rescue.

We're a fiercely proud and independent people, and we don't cotton much to outside interference, but we're not ashamed to accept help when we need it. And right now, we need it.

Just don't get carried away. for instance, once we get around to fishing again, don't try to tell us what kind of lures work best in your waters.

We're not going to listen. We're stubbon that way.

You probably already know that we talk funny and listen to strange music and eat things you'd probably hire and exterminator to get rid out of your yard.

We dance even if there is no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large.

Often we don't make sense. You may wonder why, for instance - if er could only carry one small bag of belongings with us on our journey to your state - why in God's name did we bring a pair of shrimp boots?

We can't explain that. It is what it is.

Read the RooMan's entire post here.

Godspeed, RooMaN. For RooMaN, or any other Southern Louisiana refugee feeling homesick, here's a dose of pre-Katrina images of Southern Louisiana.

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Posted by Peenie Wallie on September 12, 2005 at 10:36 PM


It's actually a common misconception that people from New Orleans are Cajun. In fact, only about 1-3% of the population is Cajun. A much larger percentage of the population is Creole. Generally speaking, Cajuns have French-Canadian & Spanish backgrounds whereas Creoles have African, Carribean and Spanish backgrounds.

Cajun Country, or Acadiana, is a 22 Parish section of Southwest Lousiana. Thankfully, Acadiana was spared and only recieved light rains and heavy winds during the storm. They are now taking care of many of the evacuees.

Cajun and Creole cultures do intersect quite a bit, thankfully. If it weren't for the Creoles, I would have never grown up eating gumbo. Okra Gumbo is a classic.. cooking this for the evacuees will no doubt make them feel a little closer to home http://www.realcajunrecipes.com/recipes/cajun/brisket-okra-gumbo/89.rcr

Posted by: Chrissy on September 15, 2005 at 12:27 AM

I'm stepping in to second Chrissy- New Orleanians are NOT Cajuns. The people scattered to the winds are not Cajun, and your new, evacuee neighbors are not Cajun.

Please, take some time to get to know the subject before writing about it. It's just common sense.

Posted by: 00goddess on September 15, 2005 at 10:35 PM

Hey, look. I don't need you people castigating me about who lives in New Orleans. I lived there for two years, and I know damned good and well who lives in New Orleans. The city is 70% black. As in African American, not the miscegenated "creoles" as noted by the first post. Lafayatte, Louisiana is where the cajuns are centered, and they lived in Accadia in Canada before they relocated to the swamps of Louisiana. I've been to cajun country many times. So, that's enough on the lectures. I used the word cajun instead of the less polite term "coon ass" which is what we always called people from Louisiana. So, I substituted the word "cajun" for "coon ass" to be more politically correct. And, just for the record, we have cajun refugees in our neighborhood here in Colorado. As in, French speaking cajuns. So, bug off.

Posted by: Peenie Wallie on September 16, 2005 at 8:16 AM

According to Cheryl Wagner on NPR:

Before the flood, New Orleans was the place where Southerners sent their laid-back people who can't or won't get with the program. Ernest, gay relatives, eternal optimists, funny-hat wearers, and intellectuals. I'm one of the above, and we're in New Oreans for a reason -- to get away from the Baptists, but still live in the South, where we're from (49:18 - 49:36).

This American Life.
"After the Flood" (Episode #296. September 9, 2005)
Act Four: Diaspora (segment between 46 min 15 sec - 50 min 30 sec)

You can listen to it in Real audio at http://www.thislife.org/ra/296.ram

Posted by: Robert on September 16, 2005 at 8:44 AM

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