LAFAYETTE — Cajuns from all walks of life — from cattlemen and shrimpers, to scholars and artists — tell the tales of their ancestors, painting a picture of Acadian history in a new documentary, “The Story of the Cajuns Part I.”
The documentary is the work of filmmaker Brenda Jepson, a native of Maine, who said the film has its roots in her intrigue about why she grew up surrounded by Thibodeauxs, Robichauds and other surnames so closely tied to Cajun culture.
Maine, she said, was one of the earliest French settlements in the New World.
“This is the first place the Acadians settled in 1604,” Jepson said. “They were here before Jamestown, before the Pilgrims. They were master farmers and builders hand-picked to help settle North America.”
Jepson said she learned about the early settlements while working on a previous film, “The Story of the Acadians,” with her husband, Alan Jepson.
“The Story of the Acadians,” which came out in 2006, describes how the agrarian settlers got caught between two of what were then the world’s strongest powers, France and Great Britain, in a struggle to gain control of North America.
The British forcefully removed the Acadians from Nova Scotia in the mid-1700s, and many found themselves in Louisiana.
Jepson said this is where “The Story of the Cajuns” picks up.
“That’s where it takes off, with the Cajuns,” she said. “What happened after the expulsion?