Acadia to Acadiana: Belizaire, the Sequel

Greg English

How did we become Cajuns? The lesson gives students the opportunity to explore the historical origins of the Acadians/Cajuns of Acadie/Louisiana, the results of ethnic persecution of the Cajuns in the 18th century, and the importance of their preservation of the French culture in Louisiana.

During the study of Acadian culture, history, and folklore the students will view the movie by Glen Pitre, Belizaire the Cajun set in 1859 Vermilionville in southwest Louisiana. Following the movie they will write a sequel to the movie 'completing' all the storylines that were left hanging at the conclusion of the movie. They will also move the storyline to Vermilionville 1861 after Louisiana seceeded from the Union.

Approximate Duration:  (6) 45 minute class periods
Content Standards:
  • History: Time, Continuity, and Change
         Students develop a sense of historical time and historical perspective as they study the history of their community, state, nation, and world.
  • H-1A-M2
         demonstrating historical perspective through the political, social, and economic context in which an event or idea occurred;
  • H-1A-M3
         analyzing the impact that specific individuals, ideas, events, and decisions had on the course of history;
  • H-1A-M6
         conducting research in efforts to answer historical questions;
  • H-1D-M1
         describing the contributions of people, events, movements, and ideas that have been significant in the history of Louisiana;
  • H-1D-M6
         examining folklore and describing how cultural elements have shaped our state and local heritage.
Grade-Level Expectations (GLEs):
  • Historical Thinking Skills
    Grade 8

    64. Compare and contrast events and ideas from Louisiana’s past and present, explaining political, social, or economic contexts


    65. Analyze the causes, effects, or impact of a given historical event in Louisiana

Interdisciplinary Connections:  
  • English/Language Arts : Standard 2
         Students write competently for a variety of purposes and audiences.
  • English/Language Arts : Standard 3
         Students communicate using standard English grammar, usage, sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and handwriting.
  • English/Language Arts : Standard 7
         Students apply reasoning and problem solving skills to reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing.
Educational Technology Standards:  
  • Compose and edit a multi-page document with appropriate formatting using word-processing skills. (e.g., menu, tool bars, dialog boxes, spell check, thesaurus, page layout, headers and footers, word count, margins, tabs, spacing, columns, page orientation)
The student will... be able to create a timeline exploring the events that lead to the deportation of Acadians.

The student will... be able to explain why family is so important to Cajuns of today.

The student will... be able to explain what home remedies are and how they are still used today.

The student will... view the movie with an eye towards details, speech, settings, and characters for later use.

The student will... take the details from the movie and transfer them into a 'followup' story based on the same characters.

The student will... use computer publishing software to write and edit their 'sequel' to the movie following guidelines and character lists provided.
Lesson Materials and Resources:
VIdeo from National Park Service, " The Cajun Way, Echoes of Acadia"

DVD of "Belizaire the Cajun" by Glen Pitre

Powerpoint of "How did we get to be Cajun?"

Handouts of Synopsis and characters

Handouts of assignment details
Technology Tools and Materials:

VCR/DVD player
Infocus/projection unit [if used]
Video of Belizaire
NPS film "The Cajun Way, Echos of Acadia"
Computers (both classroom and Lab)

Microsoft Word
MS Power-point

•Belizaire Graphics
•Acadian Powerpoint


Background Information:
Students should have a basic knowledge of Cajuns and where they came from.

Belizaire Storyline: Vigilantes disturb a peaceful Cajun community by accusing members of some families of stealing cattle. These families are ordered into exile. One man, Hypolite Leger, refuses to go.; His cousin is Belizaire Breaux, an herbal doctor who comes to his aid. Belizaire has been treating Alida, the pregnant wife of vigilante Matthew Perry. Alida is Belizaire's former sweetheart, and Belizaire still cares about her a great deal. When an "Americain" is found murdered, Hypolite Leger is accused of the crime. Belizaire ultimately uses his "medicaments" to reveal the identity of the true murderer.

Lesson Procedures:
1. Introdue lesson topic/GLEs
2. Show video "The Cajun Way, Echoes of Acadia"
3. As a closer ask students who forced the Acadians out of their homes? Why did Evangeline cry under the oak along Bayou Teche? What was the impact did this event have on families here in Louisiana?

1. Wear Acadian outfit during introduction of lesson.
2. Use Power-point to set the stage of the early years of the Acadians. Discuss early Acadian settlement, lifestyle, problems with the British.
3. Have students complete a map handout of the Acadian Triangle in Louisiana.
4. As a closer ask students what held these Acadian families together? Who did the Acadians trade with? In what year did the Great Deportation take place? What is Acadie today?

1. Collect homework (map)
2. Use powerpoint to discuss home remedies still in use today
3. Discuss various home remedies that the student’s grandparents might still use or believe in.
4. Have students make a list of remedies they have used or heard of. Turn list in next day.
5. Discuss the story/video students will see, explain terminology that will be used, who the characters are and how they are related.
6. As a closer ask students what is the most common home remedy today? What makes home remedies popular? Why do you think home remedies still exsist today?

1. Collect home remedies
2. Ask students the meaning of “Traiteur/faith healer”, home remedies”, “Vigilantes”, Acadian Triangle” and other terms discussed yesterday.
3. Show the first third of the movie.
4. At end of first half of video, answer student questions and review or discuss what they saw in terms of clothing, setting, language, relations.
3. As a closer answer students questions and review or discuss what they saw in terms of clothing, setting, language, relations.

1. Discuss terms used in second part of video and Belizaire's "medicaments". Also discuss why James refers to Matthew's children as "bastard children" and the fact that he does not want them to be considered legitimate because if they are, they will inherent the plantation, not him.
2. Show second part of movie.
3. At end of second part of video, As a closer answer students questions and review or discuss what they saw in terms of who they think really was the killer, how they knew, what will happen to each of the main characters.

1. Show final part of movie.
2. Distribute assignment handouts and discuss what students are to do. Explain the term 'sequel' and the length of their written 'sequel', the characters that must be covered, the proper setting, and facts that teacher will be looking for.
3. Explain the need for a pencil rough draft BEFORE they type story.
4. Hand out a copy of the grading rubric and discuss with students exactly what teacher will be grading on.
5. Once story is typed students my then go to to selected art to go with their story.
6. Have student begin writing assignment in class.
Assessment Procedures:
Student's rough draft and final copies will be graded using a rubric set up for this assignment.
Acadian Triangle Map and Home Remedies list will also be graded.
All students will be given additional class computer time between end of movie and due date to complete assignment (lunch and afterschool). Special Education students will be allowed to take story and other materials back to their resource classrooms for one on one help with assignment. Additional typing time will be allowed on an as-needed basis.
          ----- written by Greg English  

Reproducible Materials:
Explorations and Extensions:
[If possible, a field trip to Acadian Village in Lafayette, Louisiana would be great. Much of Belizaire and parts of The Cajun Way were shot there.]
Lesson Development Resources:
Glen Pitre's Belizaire's Teacher's Guide

Cajun traditional healers:

Belizaire Film Notes:

Belizaire Lesson Notes:
Each year I have students write the 'ending' to this movie and each year I get some of the most creative work of the year. There are very little restrictions as to "where the story goes" other than all characters must be accounted for and the student must stay true to the time period. website copyright © 2009 Greg English