“The soil down here is really fertile because of the Mississippi Delta. This whole area has been part of the Mississippi Delta, so all that sediment the comes down, all of those nutrients makes the soil really healthy,” explained Prairie Acadian Cultural Center Park Ranger, Jeremy Wirtz.
The fertile land is what helped settlers in the prairie region survive and thrive.
“Part of what helps sculpt the modern Cajuns is the fact that they lived off of the land. You know, they hunted alligators, they hunted deer. They fished for catfish. The elements of the environment kinda helped shape who they are today,” explained Wirtz.
The center features exhibits that explain the history of the prairie Acadians, from the time of the “Le Grand Derangement” or mass migration of Acadians from Nova Scotia in the 1760’s to the coastal prairie region, to present day.
“As they moved to the city they lost the Cajun French language and it’s really skipped a generation, so another reason we have people teaching Cajun French here is to preserve the Cajun French culture and the language it really was. So, as they modernized and as the oil field took over, it really did take a hit to the Cajun culture, you know. Obviously, that’s where the money was though. That really propelled Louisiana to where it is today,” explained Wirtz
The cultural center also has a Re-use and Recycle Program for children.
It teaches kids how to be resourceful, a trait common to early Acadian settlers.
“The Prairie Acadians were farmers. They didn’t have as many resources because they weren’t close to the coast. So, they used a lot of what they had and they re-used a lot of what they had as well. Like the Mardi Gras costumes out here on the farm. They’re a lot more simple than what you see at the carnival type Mardi Gras that you will get towards New Orleans,” explained Wirtz.
Find out about all the other great classes, exhibits, and resources the Praire Acadian Cultural Center has to offer.