Acadiana and Its Flag; Symbols of Cajun Pride
As early as 1956, a newspaper in Acadian Parish, the Crowley Daily Signal, coined the term ACADIANA, using it as title of a column that reported local social events. In 1963 however, a new television station, KATC-TV3 of Lafayette, rediscovered the word when someone mustyped the name of its parent company, the Acadian Television Corporation, adding an extra “A” to form Acadiana. Noting the typographical error, the station’s manager found the new word catchy, particularly because it seemed to combine the wordsAcadian and Louisiana.
KATC began using the new word on the air to describe the region covered by its broadcast signal. The word quickly took on a life of its own and evolved to describe most of south Louisiana. A recent survey of a phone directory covering south-central Louisiana revealed that more than 450 businesses and other organizations, presently use the word Acadianaon their names— from Acadiana Hight School, to the Zoo of Acadiana.
In 1971 the Louisiana state legislature officially recognized Adadiana as a distinct cultural region consisting of twenty-two parishes: Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Calcasieu, Cameron, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Pointe Coupee, Saint Charles, Saint James, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Landry, Saint Martin, Saint Mary, Terrebonne, Vermillion and West Baton Rouge.
Three years later, in 1974, the state legislature officially adopted a flag for the Acadiana region. Known as “the flag of the Louisiana Acadians” (in other words, the Cajuns), it had been designed in 1965 by Dr. Thomas Arceneaux of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). A symbol of ethnic pride, the flag displayed a golden star on a white field, which, Arceneaux explained, represented the Acadian exiles in the American Revolution under Spanish governor Bernardo de Gálvez as well as the Acadians’ Roman Catholic heritage. A silver fleur-de-lis on a blue field, stood for the Acadians’ French ancestry, while a golden castle on a red field symbolized Spain’s colonial rule of Louisiana, during which the Acadians arrived in their new homeland.
Today, the ‘Cajun Flag’ is flown throughout the Acadiana region, usually just below the Louisiana and American flags.
Reproduced with permission of author Shane K. Bernard, from his “Cajuns and Their Acadian Ancestors” book.