city, seat (1805) of St. Landry parish, south-central Louisiana, U.S. It lies on the Gulf Coastal Plain, 20 miles (32 km) north of Lafayette. Founded in 1720 as a French garrison and trading post and named for the Opelousas Indians, it became a sanctuary for Acadians exiled from Nova Scotia. The site of the State Supreme Court until 1898, it was incorporated as a town in 1821 and was the temporary Confederate capital of Louisiana during the American Civil War.
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