Monday, September 26, 2011

Meet Guest Blogger Cher Gatreaux Baum: Real Life Stories from The Bayou

The Acadian-Metis Flag
Please Welcome Guest Blogger Cher Gatreaux Baum.  We extend a huge thanks and warm welcome for her contribution to this blog and the time she has given to us here!   

Cher comes from a long line of Acadians and is proud of her Cajun Heritage. Her Acadian roots extend way way back to Le Grande Derangement (The Great Deportation from Grand Pre', Nova Scotia).  Cher's ancestors were deported from Acadia in 1755.  Currently she and her husband live in northeast Tennessee, along with their 2 dogs, and their beloved horses, Woody & Dusty. 

Cher also at the end of her bio tells us the great Cajun Folktale about the Loupgarou (pronounced "loo-ga-roo") that will give you goosebumps when things go "Bump in da night on da bayou".    

Her heritage reminds us of yet another forgotten piece of fabric in Acadian Heritage woven almost into complete disappearance -  the Acadian-Metis Heritage. The Acadian Metis Heritage consists of one of several terms used to describe people of mixed native and European origin. The word métis is an old French word meaning "mixed." Other terms that have been used include mixed blood, bois brûlé, michif, and country-born. Today the term Metis refers to a distinct group of people who have a common history and heritage.

The first Métis were the children of European fishermen and native women along the Atlantic coast of Canada. In Acadia, many French men took native wives (we in the US may know them at Native Indian Tribal People). Some villages became largely Métis. During the 17th century, both the French and the native people encouraged mixed marriages. For the native people, these marriages strengthened their bonds with their allies and trading partners. The French authorities came to oppose these unions. The church in particular was concerned that the young men preferred the freedom of life in Indian country. Métis children either stayed with their native mothers or were raised in French society. The Métis population increased farther inland. Fur traders and soldiers settled around the tiny forts and fur-trade posts. (1)

Cher tells us ...

"I was born to a Acadian-Metis Father & Irish/Scot Mother.My Father's family centered around Vermilion Parish. His closest family anyway. There were extended families (his Aunts & Uncles) in St. Mary, Iberia, Ascension & Assumption Parishes.   Her father's side of the family is descended from Francois Gautreau (Gauterot in the 1671 Census of Acadia). Francois had 2 wives, the first Marie (last name unknown) and his 2nd Edme'.  Francois fortunately never saw the British rip apart the beautiful country that had become their home. He had passed away long before Le Grande Derangement (the great deportation). Many of his descendants were deported to France and England. 

Then on to St. Dominique (currently Haiti), the eastern shore of the U.S. and South America. Like most Acadian & Acadian-Metis families, we carry the common names LeBlanc, Boudreaux, Arsenault, Broussard...and so very many others in our family tree. When it comes right down to it, there really isn't a "Cajun" alive who isn't a cousin to me in one way or another; for we all descend from those original families of Acadia.  I grew up in a family ripe with traditions and cultures carried down from those first settlers who courageously ventured to Acadia (now known as Nova Scotia) as well as the Irish/Scot ones who settled in the northeastern U.S.. I was blessed to be able to spend many summers in Louisiana among our extended family.  

The Mi'kmaq tribal heritage will be discussed tomorrow as the Mi'kmaq were the natives who married the Europeans.  The Mi'kmaq tribe has a heritage that dates back to 8500 BC (!)

But for now.... here is Cher's Acadian story of the Loupgarou;   Some say the Loupgarou is a myth, some say the Loupgarou is real.   You are never supposed to say this name louder than a whisper, especially at night!

Hang on by your toes and don't make a sound
For the Loup-garou may be milling around!

***Acadian Tale of the Marie and Vincent - the Loupgarou***

... ooooh cha...come close lemme tell ya 'bout da loup garou ;) lonnnng time ago Vincent was in love wit’ a beautiful quadroon (2) gal...oh cha she was da finest thing wit’ steel gray eyes...allllll da men lost their breath when she walked by....her name was Marie...hardly anyone knew that Marie was actually a voodoo queen...Vincent, bein’ a dandy wooed her and wooed her til he finally captured her heart...  He vowed to always love her and her remember cha..he WAS a dandy ;) there wasn't a lady who strolled by that didn't turn his head.....the day before they were to be wed, Marie caught him in a compromising situation wit’ a young lady....heart broken she fled into da bayou.....her heartbreak turned to anger then she swore vengeance....she cursed Vincent!! cast a spell on him that he would no longer be able to live only as a man...every full moon he would become a horrible 1/2 man-1/2 beast...he was condemned to rove da bayous and swamps as he could no longer live among normal this day he lives in da swamps...and his bite is often deadly...awww cha if you are in da dark in da swamp, listen for da screech owl, she'll tell you when he's about....keep your eyes away from da branches of da trees, for that is where he lingers....if you do look up into da trees, and you see bright red eyes---its too late!! For captured in that gaze, he'll hypnotize you, paralyze you then he'll pounce down on you and take your life....some say he's a were wolf, but oh cha he's much worse than see he can appear as a 1/2 wolf, he can become a cow, a horse or any other animal he wants to be.....In da day, he still appears as a man...except for one sign ....his left eye always stays cha, tiptoe thru da bayou...and keep your eyes cast da sun goes down, three times turn round as da sun goes round...and spit on da ground...say "Vincent stay away from me, for I am not your Marie" ;)
Now remember to keep your eyes cast down.  And should you be attacked by a Loup-garou the only way to be rid of the curse is to not tell anyone for a year and a day and only then will the curse be lifted. 

Up next tomorrow: The Difference between Creole and Cajun. 

And before you start thinking that Voodoo is a thing of the past, think again! The religion is alive and well today!  Your Gris-gris bag with Mojo may not work against the attack of Loup-garou.  In two days time, stay tuned for our blog topic on Voodoo, Hoodoo, Cajun Native Religions and the most Powerful Quadroon who caught the respect and fear of the city of New Orleans!  Beware my friends, for Marie might be watching you right now.  Do you feel the weight of her stare watching you from behind????

For more information and discussion about all things Acadian please follow our group on Facebook by searching the Keywords "Buffalo Moon Expedition 2011". 

End notes:
2) A quadroon was considered a person with the mixed race of Indian, French, Spanish and Other European. The word "morphed" into a women who is a Voodoo Priestess.  Marie LaVeax was the most well known Voodoo Queen in this part of the world.  This story is most likely based on her and the lovers that she often took and rejected. In time the name of Marie Laveau became distorted. Mothers threatened their children that she would put a curse on those who didn't behave. She was thought of as an evil witch, capable of causing unimaginable trouble. But there are also reports of her as a nurse. Others mention that small children went to her home every Saturday morning for the brown sugar sticks she would hand out.

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