Acadians, Creoles & Cajun settlers
Before 1713, Acadia was a French colony predominantly developed by colonists from the Mediterranean regions of Brittany, Normandy, Picardy, and Poitou — an area that endured exceptional hardships in the late 16th and early 17th decades.
In 1628, a series of religious wars between Catholics and Protestants ended with famine and disease. More than 10,000 individuals left for the colony established by Samuel Champlain in 1604 known as "La Cadie" or Acadia when economic conflicts ripened in southern France.
One of the first European colonies in North America was the region, which included what is now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and a portion of Maine.
The New France Company hired as indentured servants settlers from coastal France.
For five years, fishers, peasants, and trappers helped to compensate the business for the travel and equipment it had supplied with their labor.
Colonists formed partnerships with local Indians in the New World, who usually favored French settlers over British settlers because, unlike the British who took all the territory they could, Acadia's mainland French did not enter Indian hunting grounds inside.
Oral tradition and folklore have long framed the more significant part of the Acadian cultural heritage.
Louisiana's Acadian folklore expresses a culture traditionally centered on family life and child-rearing, Catholicism's rituals and sacraments, and beliefs that diseases and other issues have spiritual rather than biological causes.
One of the profound wisdom of these people is to recover from an illness with the assistance of different herbs that have sprouted throughout their inhabitant lands. Moreover, this knowledge is brought by them transmitted through their European ancestry but also inherited from different cultures.
Louisiana herbs, and plants, in particular, have long been used as essential medical treatments. Historically, the vast majority of pharmacopeias of doctors were packed with plants.
These healing plants have traditionally been combined with prayer and rituals to treat diseases; however, little information is available on the actual effectiveness of most of the treatments, as the Acadians preserved their traditions orally and not in writing.
Each plant can be a living embodiment of a pattern, of vitality combined in a scheme.
As such, there are specific characteristics in the plant that show its medicinal characteristics from the way it develops, where it grows, and what it represents for our perceptions.
Each is a symbol/signature that demonstrates the intention of the remedy and how it should be used.
Signatures operate under the resemblance between a pathology, organ, individuals, and a plant.
By the universal law of correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm, this can be a general foundation for healing for all peoples, operating at all levels, be it spiritual, psychological, or physical.
Acadians lived in isolated communities until the end of the 19th century, with minimal contact with anyone outside their lands. This enabled them to maintain the practices of
their ancestors, their language (derived primarily from France's Poitou region), their cuisine, festivities, and oral traditions: songs, tales, and legends that have gone from
down the generations since their arrival in the 17th century.
In 1954 France walked over productive fishing, and fur trapping attempts to the "Seven Years ' War" with Great Britain. In this way, France was beaten providing its colonies. The Great Disturbance expatriated the Acadians during the same era. In other regions, including France and Louisiana, the expatriated Acadians moved. In Louisiana, residents of different cultures, including French Creole and Cajun, began to settle.
Thus, although from different backgrounds, the Acadians, French, Cajuns, and Creoles shared prevalent cultures mainly in Agriculture and held shrewd information crops as well as flowers comprising essential oils with various uses i.e., medical and aromatic culinary.
In the development of aromatherapy, herbal medicine from crops and essential oils play a significant part. Herbs used for meat and medical reasons were crucial for life-enhancing benefits. Incense and oil aromatic plants were active in both medicinal and religious activities as well as in oils and perfumes of fragrance.
Aromatherapy was a term Rene-Marice Gattefosse created in 1937. A French chemist, after he endured skin burn in 1910, he found Lavender oil to be an efficient cure.
Teething babies would be offered herbal tea from the elderberry as well as dressing the skin in case of wounds or swellings."“Boil the pith of elderberry and wash your eyes with that.”
Essential oil with a high safrole content was obtained from its dried root bark by steam distillation. The essential oil also contains other chemicals i.e., camphor, eugenol, asarone, and various sesquiterpenes hence Sassafras oil, that was once used as a fragrance in soaps and perfumes, food and for aromatherapy.
Sassafras twigs were also anciently used for fire starters and as toothbrushes.
“Give them tea made with sassafras root. Put a bit of whiskey in the tea, and drink that two or three times a day.”
Flavors and herbs dominate the cuisines of Cajun and Creole. It's a Southern U.S. dramatic culinary type that relies heavily on new and dried herbs.
The differences in Creole and Cajun cuisine is attributed to both cultures ' French origins, along with the new ingredients added by the Creoles and Cajuns to French cooking techniques.All cooking styles have culinary origins in Europe, pointing to Spain, Asia, and North America, and to a lesser extent to West Indies, England, Ireland, and Italy.
All cultures take their food very seriously and love baking, dining, and having fun.
The cultural difference between the two cooking methods is that Creoles had access to local markets, and servants cooked their food while Cajuns lived mostly off the ground, were subject to seasonal elements, and generally cooked meals in a large pot.
Cajun and Creole foods are all about the flavor, which is why it relies so much on a variety of herbs and spices.
Many Cajun remedies have been acquired from Africans, such as adding bee stings, snakebites, burns, and pains to a poultice of chewing tobacco. Other remedies came from French doctors or folk cures, such as treating stomach pains by putting a warm plate on the stomach, administering ring-worm with vinegar, and treating headaches with a treater's prayers.
Many Cajun remedies are unique to Louisiana: for example, keeping a burning cane reed over an infection, or placing a garlic bracelet over a baby with worms.
Some plants that grow in prairie gardens are preserved by naturalists:
Many more things are to be said when dealing with Acadian inhabitants. Perhaps one of the most significant part in their history is represented by the Acadian Traiteurs
Folklore can often be mystical, and Acadian folklore regarding Natives depicts a people with supernatural endowments.
They were called "les sauvages" mostly regarded as effective healers.
Among the Acadians, traditional medicine was a much used and
valued resource in a period when skilled medical practicians were scarce.
In rare cases, Acadians went to Mi'kmaw camps in search of remedies.
The Mi'kmaq had a repertoire of incantations and knowledge of medicine that they could exchange for supplies.
Their knowledge of herbal remedies was substantial, and evidence of their transfer to the Acadians who adopted native plant use suggests that the Mi'kmaq taught the Acadians a lot during the establishment period.
The question is, had this always been the prevailing view since the Acadian settlement of the Maritimes, or is it an indicator of a distancing between the two communities after the Acadians were allowed to return?
While Acadian folklore suggests a deep-rooted fear that natives harbored ill will towards them, the exchange of traditional medicinal remedies during an earlier epoch offers proof of more beneficial encounters.
As this medicinal knowledge exchange took place, the assumption could be created that both communities also had the transfer of folk beliefs and legends.
Europe witnessed a witch-craze spanning the Early Modern Period, and the Acadians were witnesses of trials up to the emigration era. The Acadian psyche was, therefore, receptive to the belief in magic.
Alternatively, in their shamanic traditions, the Mi'kmaq adopted European witchcraft beliefs.
It can also be asserted that the legend and its exchange functioned in both communities to strengthen traditional concepts of hospitality or a good economy.
The Mi'kmaq had their shamans respected for their ability to heal, kill, and prophesy, who were males and females.
Missionary contact restricted the shamans ' influence, who inside their society became almost entirely feared as malicious individuals.
In post-conquest Maritime Canada, the Acadians ' lives centered around the sea and farming, as did their ancestors.
In a pre-electronic age, stories transmitted from generations of legendary people and sagas imported from Renaissance France were recited as a form of entertainment.
There were also the legends of phantom ships, ghosts, and sorcerers of more recent origin.
This overview provides proof of an oral Acadian tradition that originated in the Maritimes, associating their Mi'kmaq neighbors with casting evil spells.
There are legends of Acadian sorcerers, and tied to these legends are those of the Mi'kmaw sorcerer. Marie Comeau, the Acadian sorceress, who married a Mi'kmaw, bridges the image of the Acadian sorcerer and the Mi'kmaw sorcerer. When she married into the Mi'kmaw world, she became a taoueille sorcerer.
- There are other variations in the spelling of this term, with the most common being that of the above: taweille, taweye, and tawoueille. See Yves Cormier Dictionnaire du Francais acadien (Quebec: Fides, 2009), p. 359. -
The geographical usage of taoueille spans from the northeast and southeast New Brunswick; Prince Edward Island, the Ties de la Madeleine, and southern Gaspesie.
According to Pascal Poirier, taoueille is a Mi'kmaq word that entered into the Acadian language.
In more recent times, Yves Cormier reiterates the Native origins of this term by tying it to the Mi'kmaq word Epitewit; the two words are related, but Cormier presents an interesting theory.
Acadian scholars are currently exploring instances of cultural transference between the Acadians and the Mi'kmaq. Ronald Labelle has researched instances of transference in traditional medicine, and there is substantial evidence of both communities adopting remedies from one another.
The Mi'kmaq adopted the use of tansy, while the indigenous adopted the use of labrador tea; but was, in turn, taken from the Mi'kmaq by the Acadians as a preventative of illnesses, such as colds and the flu. Certain informers cite the Mi'kmaq origins of herbal remedies that were recommended as the Mi'kmaq passed by their homes.
For example, tansy was imported by the Acadians and has had multiple uses as poultices and infusions for a variety of ailments, such as bee stings, the flu, and intestinal problems.
Many Acadian cures also have a magic-religious aspect, and there is proof of cultural transference among specific remedies of this nature.
The number seven is significant in Acadian and Mi'kmaq cures. For example, the remedy "sept facons de bois," which involves the gathering of seven species of plants, utilizes Mi'kmaq ingredients. Still, it is not sure whether the number seven is of European or Native origin.
Thus, here, the point of view chosen is that of cultural transference as it relates to Acadian legends of Mi'kmaq sorcery and how these legends can provide useful information concerning Acadian-Mi'kmaq relations.
Who was the French sorcerer in Early Modern France, and how can such a definition apply to sorcery in Acadia? According to Jean-Michel Sallmann, in France, the sorcerer is most often a sorceress.
They were often isolated widows living in poverty on the brink of society dependent on other people's charity. These females often had knowledge of healing, which assumed them to be capable of witchcraft.
Most scholars state that the belief in Native sorcerers originates from a superstition imported from France that associated strangers with sorcery.
On the Mi'kmaq side, however, there was no evil will, and the Mi'kmaq also wanted the Acadians to live nearby to gain access to their priests.
According to Leger, Acadians could attain power from people who came from France. Others could receive their powers through heredity or a friend.
According to Speck, there were among the Penobscot, both male and female shamans, and the female was "the more virulent manifestation.
According to Denise Lamontagne, feminine power in the Western European imagination is symbolized by the double image of the sorcerer and healer.
This image was then applied by the Acadians to the Mi'kmaq:
"La taoueille constitue le côté négatif du pouvoir féminin, assimilé à la langue française, à l’autre représente par la personne autochtone dans l'imaginaire appartenant à la culture orale. "
Most witnesses do not call their healers taoueilles, and they claim that their cures were not formerly magical.
According to Ronald Labelle, Acadians speak of "gifts" and "secrets," and they look at healers as practitioners rather than as supernatural agents even when cures appear to be miraculous.