what is the difference between a Cajun and a Creole?

+6 votes
LeBleu is the family I am in doubt about.  They were one of the first to settle Lousiana in the New World.  Any help is appreciated.  Are they Cajun or Creole?
in Genealogy Help by Debby Williams G2G Crew (580 points)
retagged by Julie Ricketts

4 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer
"Joe Bleaux is Acadian," pronounced "Joe Blow is a Cajun" is basically how the term Cajun came to be (although I made up the Joe Bleaux part). The Acadians were (mostly) French fishermen and farmers who settled in Acadia-- now Nova Scotia, Canada. The Acadians who came the US were born in Acadia, and their children born where they were dispersed--England, France, the US-- were Acadian. Technically a Cajun is someone from southwest Louisiana (and southeast Texas) descended from them, who kept the language and the culture. People from many countries settled in southwest Louisiana, married into and were assimilated into the French-speaking culture; as long as they walked the walk and talked the talk, they came to be called Cajun too.

In Louisiana, a Creole was a person (and their descendants) born in North America of parents-- or at least a father--  born in Europe. Compared to the Acadians they were wealthy. A Louisiana Creole was most often of Spanish or French parents. Creole does NOT mean a Louisianan of black and white parentage, although it can. The necessary component is the parent who came from Europe. Louisiana was originally a French colony and then for about 40 years it was ruled by Spain. The children of the French and Spanish officials were Creoles, and their descendants in Louisiana were considered Creole. Some of the European officials married black or native people, and these children were Creole as well.

An important distinction is the Creole families generally had wealth and prestige and lived in the cities, whereas the Acadians, who had been robbed of everything, had to start from scratch as farmers and were initially looked down on.
by Stephanie Ward G2G6 Mach 7 (77.3k points)
selected by Jacqueline Girouard
I love your answer Stephanie. I would add Germans and Swiss to the Louisiana Creole category. J. Hanno Deiler wrote extensively about the Germans (most of whom were born in the Alsace area of France but were ethnically/culturally German) and how superior, in his opinion, they were to the Acadians in his book entitled "Settlement of the German Coast of Louisiana and the Creoles of German Descent". It was published in 1909 so we can get a perspective from over 100 years ago. We can read what he had to say [https://archive.org/stream/settlementgerma00deilgoog#page/n13/mode/1up here]. Starting on page 111.
+8 votes

Cajun was the name applied to the descendants of the Arcadians (French colonists) moved out of Nova Scotia by the British and relocated in Louisiana when the British took over Nova Scotia.

Creole usually means a person of mixed Spanish or French ancestry and African ancestry.  Cajuns are not Creoles. 

by David Hughey G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+6 votes

Hi Debby,

From Wikipedia:

...    descendants of Acadian exiles (French-speakers from Acadia in what are now The Maritimes of Eastern Canada).

...   refers to people of any race or mixture thereof who are descended from settlers in colonial French La Louisiane and colonial Louisiana (New Spain) before it became part of the United States in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase.

by Rubén Hernández G2G6 Pilot (663k points)
+1 vote
Today, I would avoid applying either of those labels to anyone when precise language is needed. So many people in SW Louisiana who do not meet the technical definition of Acadian ('Cajun) strongly identify as 'Cajun because their ancestors were here at the same time and are of the same culture. I know families originally from Lebanon, Spain, Germany, Canary Islands and Switzerland who didn't realize they were not really Acadian, but they are certainly 'Cajun and identify that way. I think Stephanie Ward's description is spot on so far as how the terms were used until modern marketing of the Creole and Cajun brands muddied the waters. I would guess that most of the world outside of Louisiana think of Creole as referring to New Orleans mixed-race (whatever that means) people and good food and music! Some think the 'Cajuns are in New Orleans--they are not--all the land near New Orleans was already settled by the time the Acadians arrived (ca1765-ca1785). Again, the tourism industry has co-opted the terms to suit their own interests.
by Jacqueline Girouard G2G6 Mach 5 (58.5k points)

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