Maine Acadians share beliefs and experiences tying them to a river, the land, their families, and to their common religion, languages, and history. The land borders the St. John River, flowing between the United States and Canada, and extends away from the river to the "back settlements." Here people speak Valley French, a mixture that includes old French, Quebecois, and English terms ; sometimes mixed within a sentence.
Maine Acadians' French ancestors settled during the 1600s in what is now the Maritime Provinces, Quebec, and Maine. Both France and England claimed this territory. In 1755 the English government deported thousands of French neutrals from present-day Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, then known as Acadia. Spurred by the Acadians' refusal to strengthen their pledge of allegiance to the British Crown, the authorities shipped most of them to British colonies. Some fled to Quebec. Others, today's Cajuns, sought a new start in Louisiana. The majority maintained their Acadian identity. During the 1780s Acadians settled Malecite homelands in the Saint John Valley, and here they were joined by settlers from the St. Lawrence River valley.
The National Park Service aids local efforts at cultural conservation in the Saint John Valley via the Maine Acadian Heritage Council, an association of historical societies, cultural clubs, towns, and museums that work together to perpetuate Maine Acadian culture.