Are Cajuns An Endangered Species?
Much of what the world associates with the State of Louisiana is derived from the Cajun culture. From language to music to cuisine the effect of this ethnic group on the way of life in the Pelican State cannot be overstated.
According to the Louisiana Radio Network, one Baton Rouge U.S. Congressman believes that the Cajun culture is so important to our way of life in Louisiana, that he wants the federal government to declare Cajuns an endangered species.
Cajuns' roots can be traced back to their homeland in what is now the east coast of Canada and northern Maine, an area then known as L'Acadie or its Anglicized version, Acadia. The Acadians began migrating to southern Louisiana in the period before the Seven Years' War which started in 1756. They refused to bow to English rule, so the British began to deport them from the area in what became known as The Great Expulsion. As they flourished in their new home in the area of Louisiana that would become known as Acadiana, the Acadians developed their own dialect of the French language which became known as Cajun French. They also developed their own unique style of music and cuisine which became synonymous with Louisiana.
Congressman Garret Graves believes the Cajun way of life is threatened due to the federal government's mismanagement of the Mississippi River system. As Louisiana loses its coastal wetlands, the Cajuns are losing their habitat. Since endangered species are given extra protections, Graves believes that Cajuns should be given the same.
So, last week on the floor of the U.S. House, Graves proposed an amendment to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 that would include Cajuns as an endangered species.
In a quote from the Louisiana Radio Network's story, Graves said, "Our habitat is disappearing. And I don't understand why animals get better treatment than our actual people. So our amendment just simply designates Cajuns as endangered species so we can be afforded those same protections."
Graves received some ribbing from his fellow Congressmen and after a few minutes of playful banter, he removed his amendment from consideration. But his point was made: the Cajun heritage of our great state is worth protecting and nurturing.