I too am having to cope with what's Cajun and who can rightfully appropriate the term... (I'm thinking it's less to do with "Lucky" or "Gracious" , than, how you define a community, a culture, tradition, shared values.. etc. ).
I've "experienced" Cajun "culture" whatever, on my stereo, radio, on my plate, on visits to Louisiana, in cyberspace ( like here ) , on Italian trains with my iPod, at home with my Cajun accordions, in France at Festivals where local musical talent rivals the imported "reel laff Keijuns ". It was all called Cajun.
I suspect few, if any of us, on this forum are native Louisianans of Cajun stock, Acadians.. fewer can lasso a definition of Cajun that can stick... but many will admit that the word is now a label: appropriated by many people for very different reasons ( festivals,attitude, lifestyle, hot sauce, whatever ... ).
Personally, I would reserve true Cajun identity to those who can fluently understand AND SPEAK Cajun French, and who use it daily at work and home..with other Cajuns. IMHO, DNA doesn't make one Cajun, ( unless its considered a "race" ).
The creation of meaning through conditions of interdependency : language, music, food, religion, commerce is what defines and furthers any culture.. not merely labelling, or putting up artificial barriers of what does and doesn't belong . I do thinkg that When there is no more Cajun French..we will be living in a Cajun Lite world ! Cajuns can trace their roots historically , like any other ethnic-American group ( who can't? ) .. but without the command of the language we are all Wonder Bread.
Like most of us, I think "Cajun" can be an overused and abused adjective appropriated by marketeers.
Cajun culture has been represented to world via Arhoolie Records, Les Blank Videos documented a bygone Cajun era.. KBON broadcasts worldwide a Louisiana "audio" cultural mix of oldies and classics ... these have been very generous intermediaries.. bringing us the best of a unique American phenomena.. which is everyone's now.. and will, like other American music, become diluted, morphed and will take on multiple identities ( i.e. Soul AND Motown / Bakersfield Sound AND Countrypolitan/ Cajun AND Zydecajun / Norteno Y Conjunto Y Tejano ).
We have "bought into " what we have seen , heard and tasted.. we are all Cajun wannabe's.. clueless "converts" ? dunno. Just think it silly for anyone to have to feel gracious or protective.
roll with the flow, this land is our land .. Glenn
I agree with your thoughts on language.
My home is about an hour and a half from Montreal, 50 minutes to the border. Thank goodness the French speakers in Quebec also realize this and attempt through law to stop the "englishing of quebec." American music and culture is pervasive." Language preserves culture.
Many many cultures have been opressed and it often seems that opression brings about great musical traditions
"for they that carried us away captive required of us a song, saying sing us one of the songs of Zion..."
I have often thought I wanted to be part of another culture
however, if I really think about it, it is not that I want to be part of that culture, I just want to be able to play the music..
When I hear someone wailing tarentellas on the diatonic I want to play that, when I hear great conjunto/tejano I want to play that.
Music can either be racist, as it was in the US for much of our history, or it can break down racial/cultural barriers
Anyway do I want to be a cajun, no thanks then I cound not be black, or mexican, or Italian, or Irish. I just want to be the best musician I can.
As a cajun from Ville Platte responding to the guy who want to find a place to stay for the camp, email me and I can help you with this. There are a couple of little places to stay in nearby Bunkie, which is about 20 miles from "the park" as us locals call it. I can try to get you the number if you need them. I don't know how many "Cajuns" are on this forum, but I want to say that I do enjoy reading this and want you to know that you guys are all honorary cajuns in my book. Look forward to seeing and meeting some of you guys at the camp. Just look for the big guy with the Swallow accordion. Laissez les bon temps rouler!!