Mi'kmaq facts for kids
Grand Council Flag of the Mi'kmaq Nation. Although the flag is meant to be displayed hanging vertically as shown here, it is quite commonly flown horizontally, with the star near the upper hoist.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Canada (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec), United States (Maine)|
|English, Mi'kmaq, French|
|Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic), Mi'kmaq traditionalism and spirituality, others|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Algonquian peoples|
The Mi'kmaq or Mi'gmaq (also Micmac, L'nu, Mi'kmaw or Mi'gmaw) (English //; IPA: [miːɡmax]) are a First Nations people indigenous to Canada's Maritime Provinces and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. They call their national territory Mi'kma'ki (or Mi'gma'gi). Others today live in Newfoundland and the northeastern region of Maine. The nation has a population of about 40,000 (plus about 25,000 in the Qalipu First Nation in Newfoundland), of whom nearly 11,000 speak Mi'kmaq, an Eastern Algonquian language. Once written in Mi'kmaq hieroglyphic writing, it is now written using most letters of the Latin alphabet.
The Santé Mawiómi, or Grand Council, was the traditional senior level of government for the Mi'kmaq people until Canada passed the Indian Act (1876) to require First Nations to establish representative elected governments. After implementation of the Indian Act, the Grand Council took on a more spiritual function. The Grand Council was made up of chiefs of the seven district councils of Mi'kma'ki.
On September 26, 2011 the Government of Canada announced the recognition of Canada's newest Mi'kmaq First Nations Band, the Qalipu First Nations in Newfoundland and Labrador. The new band, which is landless, has accepted 25,000 applications to become part of the band. The number of applications received by the application deadline on November 30, 2012 exceeded 100,000; as of January 2013, the majority of those had not yet been processed. The deadline was extended to January 31, 2014, and then to February 10, 2014. Its members are recognized as Status Indians, joining other organized Mi'kmaq bands recognized in southeast Canada.
- Pre-contact culture
- First contacts
- 17th and 18th centuries
- 19th century
- 20th and 21st centuries
- Religion and folklore
- First Nation subdivisions
- Notable Mi'kmaq
- In popular culture
The ethnonym has traditionally been spelled Micmac in English, but the people themselves have used different spellings: Mi’kmaq (singular Mi’kmaw) in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Miigmaq (Miigmao) in New Brunswick, Mi’gmaq by the Listuguj Council in Quebec, and Mìgmaq (Mìgmaw) in some native literature.
Until the 1980s, "Micmac" remained the most common spelling in English. Although still used, for example in Ethnologue, this spelling has fallen out of favour in recent years. Most scholarly publications now use the spelling Mi'kmaq, and it has been adopted by media as the spelling Micmac is now considered to be "colonially tainted". The Mi'kmaq prefer to use one of the three current Mi'kmaq orthographies when writing the language.
Lnu (the adjectival and singular noun, previously spelled "L'nu"; the plural is Lnúk, Lnu’k, Lnu’g, or Lnùg) is the term the Mi'kmaq use for themselves, their autonym, meaning "human being" or "the people".
Various explanations exist for the origin of the term Mi'kmaq. The Mi'kmaw Resource Guide states that "Mi'kmaq" means "the family":
The definite article "the" suggests that "Mi'kmaq" is the undeclined form indicated by the initial letter "m". When declined in the singular it reduces to the following forms: nikmaq - my family; kikmaq - your family; wikma - his/her family. The variant form Mi'kmaw plays two grammatical roles: 1) It is the singular of Mi'kmaq and 2) it is an adjective in circumstances where it precedes a noun (e.g. mi'kmaw people, mi'kmaw treaties, mi'kmaw person, etc.)
The Anishinaabe refer to the Mi'kmaq as Miijimaa(g), meaning "The Brother(s)/Ally(ies)", with the use of the nX prefix m-, opposed to the use of n1 prefix n- (i.e. Niijimaa(g), "my brother(s)/comrade(s)") or the n3 prefix w- (i.e. Wiijimaa(g), "brother(s)/compatriot(s)/comrade(s)").
Other hypotheses include the following:
The name "Micmac" was first recorded in a memoir by de La Chesnaye in 1676. Professor Ganong in a footnote to the word megamingo (earth), as used by Marc Lescarbot, remarked "that it is altogether probable that in this word lies the origin of the name Micmac." As suggested in this paper on the customs and beliefs of the Micmacs, it would seem that megumaagee the name used by the Micmacs, or the Megumawaach, as they called themselves, for their land, is from the words megwaak, "red", and magumegek, "on the earth", or as Rand recorded, "red on the earth," megakumegek, "red ground," "red earth." The Micmacs, then, must have thought of themselves as the Red Earth People, or the People of the Red Earth. Others seeking a meaning for the word Micmac have suggested that it is from nigumaach, my brother, my friend, a word that was also used as a term of endearment by a husband for his wife... Still another explanation for the word Micmac suggested by Stansbury Hagar in "Micmac Magic and Medicine" is that the word megumawaach is from megumoowesoo, the name of the Micmacs' legendary master magicians, from whom the earliest Micmac wizards are said to have received their power.
Members of the Mi'kmaq historically referred to themselves as Lnu, but used the term níkmaq (my kin) as a greeting. The French initially referred to the Mi'kmaq as Souriquois" and later as Gaspesiens or (through English) "Mickmakis". The British originally referred to them as Tarrantines.
Archaeologist Dean Snow states that the fairly deep linguistic split between the Mi'kmaq and the Eastern Algonquians to the southwest, suggests the Mi'kmaq developed an independent prehistoric sequence emphasizing maritime orientation, as the area had relatively few major river systems. According to ethnologist T. J. Brasser, with a climate unfavorable for agriculture, small semi-nomadic bands of a few patrilineally related families subsisted on fishing and hunting. Their weakly developed leadership did not extend beyond hunting parties.
Food and hunting
The Mi'kmaq lived in an annual cycle of seasonal movement between living in dispersed interior winter camps and larger coastal communities during the summer. The spawning runs of March began the convergence on smelt spawning streams. This was followed by harvesting spawning herring, gathering waterfowl eggs, and hunting geese. By May, the seashore offered abundant cod and shellfish, and coastal breezes brought relief from the biting black flies, stouts, midges and mosquitoes of the interior. Autumn frost killed the biting insects during the September harvest of spawning American eels, allowing dispersal back into the interior in smaller groups to hunt moose and caribou. The most important animal hunted by the Mi'kmaq was the moose, which was used in every part: for example, the meat was processed for food, the skin for clothing, tendons and sinew for cordage, bones for carving and tools. Other animals hunted/trapped included deer, caribou, bear, rabbit, beaver, porcupine and small animals. Bear teeth and claws were used in regalia. Porcupine quills were used in decorative beadwork done by women. The weapon used most for hunting was the bow and arrow. The Mi'kmaq made their bows from maple. The Mi'kmaq people would store lobsters in the ground for later consumption. The Mi’kmaq ate fish of all kinds, such as salmon, sturgeon, lobster, squid, shellfish, and eels, as well as seabirds and their eggs. They hunted marine mammals: porpoises, whales, walrus, and seals.
Throughout the Maritimes moose was the most important animal to the Mi'kmaq. It was their second main source of meat, clothing and cordage, which were all crucial commodities. The Mi'kmaq usually hunted moose in groups of 3 to 5 men. Before the moose hunt, the Mi'kmaq would starve their dogs for two days to make them fierce in helping to finish off the moose. To kill the moose, they would injure it first, by using a bow and arrow or other weapons. After it was down, they would move in to finish it off with spears and their dogs. The guts would be fed to the dogs. During this whole process, the men would try to direct the moose in the direction of the camp, so that the women would not have to go as far to drag the moose back. A boy became a man in the eyes of the community after he had killed his first moose. It was only then that he earned the right to marry. Once moose were introduced to the island of Newfoundland, the practice of hunting moose with dogs was used in the Bay of Islands region of the province.
The Mi'kmaq territory was the first portion of North America to be heavily used for European resource extraction. Reports by John Cabot, Jacques Cartier, and Portuguese explorers encouraged visits by Portuguese, Spanish, Basque, French, and English fishermen and whalers beginning in the early years of the 16th century. Early European fishermen salted their catch at sea and sailed directly home; but they set up camps ashore for dry-curing cod as early as 1520; this became the preferred preservation method during the second half of the century. These camps traded with Mi'kmaq fishermen; and trading rapidly expanded to include furs. By 1578 there were 350 European ships operating around the Saint Lawrence estuary. Most were independent fishermen, but increasing numbers were exploring the fur trade.
Trading furs for European trade goods changed Mi'kmaq social perspectives. Desire for trade goods encouraged the men devoting a larger portion of the year away from the coast trapping in the interior. Trapping non-migratory animals, such as beaver, increased awareness of territoriality. Trader preferences for good harbors resulted in greater numbers of Mi'kmaq gathering in fewer summer rendezvous locations. This in turn encouraged their establishing larger bands led by the ablest trade negotiators.
The Mi'kmaq territory was divided into seven traditional districts. Each district had its own independent government and boundaries. The independent governments had a district chief and a council. The council members were band chiefs, elders, and other worthy community leaders. The district council was charged with performing all the duties of any independent and free government by enacting laws, justice, apportioning fishing and hunting grounds, making war and suing for peace.
The Eight Mi'kmaq districts (including Taqamkuk which is often not counted) are:
- Epekwitk aq Piktuk (Epegwitg aq Pigtug)
- Eskikewa'kik (Esge'gewa'gi)
- Kespek (Gespe'gewa'gi)
- Kespukwitk (Gespugwitg)
- Siknikt (Signigtewa'gi)
- Sipekni'katik (Sugapune'gati)
- Taqamkuk (Gtaqamg)
- Unama'kik (Unama'gi)
Note : The orthography between parentheses is the one used in the Gespe'gewa'gi area.
In addition to the district councils, there was a Grand Council or Santé Mawiómi. The Grand Council was composed of Keptinaq (captains in English), who were the district chiefs. There were also Elders, the Putús (Wampum belt readers and historians, who also dealt with the treaties with the non-natives and other Native tribes), the women's council, and the Grand Chief. The Grand Chief was a title given to one of the district chiefs, who was usually from the Mi'kmaq district of Unamáki or Cape Breton Island. This title was hereditary and usually passed on to the Grand Chief's eldest son. The Grand Council met on a little island on the Bras d'Or lake in Cape Breton called Mniku. Today the site is within the reserve called Chapel Island or Potlotek. To this day, the Grand Council still meets at Mniku to discuss current issues within the Mi'kmaq Nation. Taqamkuk was defined as part of Unama'kik historically and became a separate district at an unknown point in time.
Mi'kmaq people lived in structures called wigwams. They cut down saplings, which were usually spruce, and curved them over a circle drawn on the ground. These saplings were lashed together at the top, and then covered with birch bark. The Mi'kmaq had two different sizes of wigwams. The smaller size could hold 10-15 people and the larger size 15-20 people. Wigwams could be either conical or domed in shape.
On June 24, 1610, Grand Chief Membertou converted to Catholicism and was baptised. He concluded an alliance with the French Jesuits which affirmed the right of Mi'kmaq to choose Catholicism and\or Mi'kmaq tradition. The Mi'kmaq, as trading allies with the French, were amenable to limited French settlement in their midst.
17th and 18th centuries
In the wake of King Phillips War between English colonists and Native Americans in southern New England (which included the first military conflict between the Mi'kmaq and New England), the Mi'kmaq became members of the Wapnáki (Wabanaki Confederacy), an alliance with four other Algonquian-language nations: the Abenaki, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet.
The Wabanaki Confederacy were allied with French colonists in Acadia. Over a period of seventy-five years, during six wars in Mi'kma'ki (Acadia and Nova Scotia), the Mi'kmaq fought to keep the British from taking over the region (See the four French and Indian Wars as well as Father Rale's War and Father Le Loutre's War). France lost military control of Acadia in 1710, and political claim (apart from Cape Breton) by the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht with England. But, the Mí'kmaq were not included in the treaty and never conceded any land to the British.
In 1715, the Mi'kmaq were told that the British now claimed their ancient territory by the Treaty of Utrecht, which the Mi'kmaq were no party to. They formally complained to the French commander at Louisbourg about the French king transferring the sovereignty of their nation when he did not possess it. They were only then informed that the French had claimed legal possession of their country for a century, on account of laws decreed by kings in Europe, that no land could be legally owned by any non-Christian, and that such land was therefore freely available to any Christian prince who claimed it. Mi'kmaw historian Daniel Paul observes that
If this warped law were ever to be accorded recognition by modern legalists they would have to take into consideration that, after Grand Chief Membertou and his family converted to Christianity in 1610, the land of the Mi'kmaq had become exempt from being seized because the people were Christians. However, it's hard to imagine that a modern government would fall back and try to use such uncivilized garbage as justification for non-recognition of aboriginal title.
Along with Acadians, the Mi'kmaq used military force to resist the founding of British (Protestant) settlements by making numerous raids on Halifax, Dartmouth, Lawrencetown and Lunenburg. During the French and Indian War, the North American front of the Seven Years' War between France and Britain in Europe, the Mi'kmaq assisted the Acadians in resisting the British during the Expulsion. The military resistance was reduced significantly with the French defeat at the Siege of Louisbourg (1758) in Cape Breton.
The Mí'kmaq signed a series of peace and friendship treaties with Great Britain. The first was after Father Rale's War (1725). In 1725 the British signed a treaty (or "agreement") with the Mi'kmaq,but the rights of the Mi'kmaq defined in it to hunt and fish on their lands have often been disputed by the authorities.
The nation historically consisted of seven districts, which was later expanded to eight with the ceremonial addition of Great Britain at the time of the 1749 treaty.
Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope signed a Peace Treaty in 1752 on behalf of the Shubenacadie Mi'kmaq. With the signing of various treaties, the 75 years of regular warfare ended in 1761 with the Burying the Hatchet ceremony.
According to historian John G. Reid, although the treaties of 1760-61 contain statements of Mi'kmaw submission to the British crown, he believes that the Mi'kmaw intended a friendly and reciprocal relationship. This is based on what is known of the surrounding discussions, combined with the strong evidence of later Mi'kmaw statements. The Mi'kmaw leaders who represented their people in the Halifax negotiations in 1760 had clear goals: to make peace, establish secure and well-regulated trade in commodities such as furs, and begin an ongoing friendship with the British crown. In return, they offered their own friendship and a tolerance of limited British settlement, although without any formal land surrender. To fulfill the reciprocity intended by the Mi'kmaq, any additional British settlement of land would have to be negotiated, and accompanied by giving presents to the Mi'kmaq. (There was a long history of the French giving Mi'kmaq people presents to be accommodated on their land, starting with the first colonial contact.) The documents summarizing the peace agreements failed to establish specific territorial limits on the expansion of British settlements, but assured the Mi’kmaq of access to the natural resources that had long sustained them along the regions’ coasts and in the woods. Their conceptions of land use were quite different. The Mi'kmaq believed they could share the land, with the British growing crops, and their people hunting as usual and getting to the coast for seafood.
The arrival of the New England Planters and United Empire Loyalists in greater number put pressure on land use and the treaties. This migration into the region created significant economic, environmental and cultural pressures on the Mi'kmaq. The Mi'kmaq tried to enforce the treaties through threat of force. At the beginning of the American Revolution, many Mi’kmaq and Maliseet tribes supported the Americans against the British. They participated in the Maugerville Rebellion and the Battle of Fort Cumberland in 1776. (Mí'kmaq delegates concluded the first international treaty, the Treaty of Watertown, with the United States soon after it declared its independence in July 1776. These delegates did not officially represent the Mi'kmaq government, although many individual Mi'kmaq did privately join the Continental army as a result.) In June 1779, Mi’kmaq in the Miramichi valley of New Brunswick attacked and plundered some of the British in the area. The following month, British Captain Augustus Harvey, in command of the HMS Viper, arrived and battled with the Mi’kmaq. One Mi’kmaq was killed and 16 were taken prisoner to Quebec. The prisoners were eventually taken to Halifax. They were released on 28 July 1779 after signing the Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown.
As their military power waned in the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Mi'kmaq people made explicit appeals to the British to honour the treaties and reminded them of their duty to give "presents" to the Mi'kmaq in order to occupy Mi'kma'ki. In response, the British offered charity or, the word most often used by government officials, "relief". The British said the Mi'kmaq must give up their way of life and begin to settle on farms. Also, they were told they had to send their children to British schools for education.
The Treaties did not gain legal status until they were enshrined into the Canadian Constitution in 1982. Every October 1, "Treaty Day" is now celebrated by people in Nova Scotia.
During this time period two colonial figures were honoured at their deaths by the Mi'kmaq. Two hundred Mi'kmaq chanted their death song at the burial of Governor Michael Francklin. They also celebrated the life of Pierre Maillard.
During the American Revolution, some Mi'kmaq supported the British while others did not. In 1780, they gave shelter to the 84th Regiment of Foot that had been shipwrecked off Cape Breton.
Royal Acadian School
Walter Bromley was a British officer and reformer who established the Royal Acadian School and supported the Mi'kmaq over the thirteen years he lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia (1813-1825). Bromley devoted himself to the service of the Mi’kmaq people. The Mi'kmaq were among the poor of Halifax and in the rural communities. According to historian Judith Finguard, his contribution to give public exposure to the plight of the Mi’kmaq “particularly contributes to his historical significance.” Finguard writes:
Bromley’s attitudes towards the Indians were singularly enlightened for his day…. Bromley totally dismissed the idea that native people were naturally inferior and set out to encourage their material improvement through settlement and agriculture, their talents through education, and their pride through his own study of their languages.
MicMac Missionary Society
Silas Tertius Rand in 1849 help found the Micmac Missionary Society, a full-time Mi'kmaq mission. Basing his work in Hantsport, Nova Scotia, where he lived from 1853 until his death in 1889, he travelled widely among Mi'kmaq communities, spreading the faith, learning the language, and recording examples of the Mi'kmaq oral tradition. Rand produced scriptural translations in Mi'kmaq and Maliseet, compiled a Mi'kmaq dictionary and collected numerous legends, and through his published work, was the first to introduce the stories of Glooscap to the wider world. The mission was dissolved in 1870. After a long period of disagreement with the Baptist church, he eventually returned to the church in 1885.
Mic-Mac hockey sticks
The Mi'kmaq practice of playing hockey appeared in recorded colonial histories from as early as the 18th century. Since the nineteenth century, the Mi'kmaq were credited with inventing the ice hockey stick. The oldest known hockey stick was made between 1852 and 1856. Recently, it was appraised at $4 million US and sold for $2.2 million US. The stick was carved by Mi’kmaq from Nova Scotia, who made it from hornbeam, also known as ironwood.
In 1863, the Starr Manufacturing Company in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia began to sell the Mic-Mac hockey sticks nationally and internationally. Hockey became a popular sport in Canada in the 1890s. Throughout the first decade of the twentieth century, the Mic-Mac Hockey Stick was the best-selling hockey stick in Canada. By 1903, apart from farming, the principal occupation of the Mi'kmaq on reserves throughout Nova Scotia, and particularly on the Shubenacadie, Indian Brook and Millbrook Reserves, was producing the Mic-Mac Hockey Stick. The department of Indian Affairs for Nova Scotia noted in 1927, that the Mi'kmaq remained the "experts" at making hockey sticks. The Mi'kmaq continued to make hockey sticks until the 1930s, when the product was industrialized.
20th and 21st centuries
Jerry Lonecloud (1854–1930) worked with historian and archivist Harry Piers to document the ethnography of the Mi'kmaq people in the early 20th century. Lonecloud wrote the first Mi'kmaq memoir, which his biographer entitled "Tracking Dr. Lonecloud: Showman to Legend Keeper". Historian Ruth Holmes Whitehead wrote, "Ethnographer of the Micmac nation could rightly have been his epitaph, his final honour."
In 1914, over 150 Mi'kmaw men signed up during World War I. During the First World War, thirty-four out of sixty-four male Mi’kmaq from Lennox Island First Nation, Prince Edward Island enlisted in the armed forces, distinguishing themselves particularly in the Battle of Amiens. In 1939, over 250 Mi’kmaq volunteered in World War II. (In 1950, over 60 Mi'kmaq enlisted to serve in the Korean War.)
Gabriel Sylliboy was the first Mi'kmaq elected as Grand Chief (1919) and the first to fight for treaty recognition - specifically, the Treaty of 1752 - in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia (1929).
In 1986, the first Treaty Day was celebrated by Nova Scotians on October 1 in recognition of the Treaties signed between the British Empire and the Mi'kmaq people. The first treaty was signed in 1725 after Father Rale's War. The final treaties of 1760-61, marked the end of 75 years of regular warfare between the Mi'kmaq and the British (see the four French and Indian Wars as well as Father Rale's War and Father Le Loutre's War). The treaty making process of 1760-61, ended with the Burying the Hatchet ceremony (Nova Scotia) (1761).
The treaties were only formally recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada once they were enshrined in the Canadian Constitution in 1982. The first Treaty Day occurred the year after the Supreme Court upheld the Peace Treaty of 1752 signed by Jean-Baptiste Cope and Governor Peregrine Hopson. Since that time there have been numerous judicial decisions that have upheld the other treaties in the Supreme Court, the most recognized being the Donald Marshall case.
In 1997, the Mi'kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum was established.
On August 31, 2010, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia signed a historic agreement with the Mi'kmaq Nation, establishing a process whereby the federal government must consult with the Mi'kmaq Grand Council before engaging in any activities or projects that affect the Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia. This covers most, if not all, actions these governments might take within that jurisdiction. This is the first such collaborative agreement in Canadian history including all the First Nations within an entire province.
Mi’kmaq Kina’ matnewey
The Nova Scotia government and the Mi’kmaq community have made the Mi’kmaq Kina’ matnewey, which is the most successful First Nation Education Program in Canada. In 1982, the first Mi’kmaq-operated school opened in Nova Scotia. By 1997, all Mi’kmaq on reserves were given the responsibility for their own education. There are now 11 band-run schools in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia now has the highest rate of retention of aboriginal students in schools in the country. More than half the teachers are Mi’kmaq. From 2011 to 2012 there was a 25% increase in Mi’kmaq students going to university. Atlantic Canada has the highest rate of aboriginal students attending university in the country.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
In 2005, Nova Scotian Mi'kmaq Nora Bernard led the largest class-action lawsuit in Canadian history, representing an estimated 79,000 survivors of the Canadian Indian residential school system. The Canadian government settled the lawsuit for upwards of 5 billion dollars.
On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made an apology to the residential school survivors.
In the fall of 2011 there was an Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission that travelled to various communities in Atlantic Canada, who were all served by the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. For 37 years (1930-1967), 10% of Mi'kmaq children attended the institution.
Mi'kmaq of Newfoundland
In the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, October is celebrated as Mi'kmaq History Month. The entire Mi'kmaq Nation celebrates Treaty Day annually on October 1. This was date when the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1752 was signed by Jean-Baptiste Cope of Shubenacadie and the king's representative. It was stated that the natives would be given gifts annually,"as long as they continued in Peace."
They use the leaves of Ranunculus acris for headaches.
Religion and folklore
Many Mi'kmaq practice the Catholic faith, some only practice traditional Mi'kmaq religion, while many have adopted both religions. There is one myth [source required] explaining that the Mi'kmaq once believed that evil and wickedness among men is what causes them to kill each other. This causes great sorrow to the creator-sun-god, who weeps tears that become rains sufficient to trigger a deluge. The people attempt to survive the flood by traveling in bark canoes, but only a single old man and woman survive to populate the earth.
The Mi'kmaq people had three levels of oral traditions: religious myths, legends, and folklore. Myths are used to tell the stories of the earliest possible time, which includes their creation stories. Other myths account for the organization of the world and society; for instance, how men and women were created and why they are different from one another. These myths were powerful symbolically and as the expression of how things came to be and should be. The most well known Mi'kmaq myth is of Glooscap.
Legends are oral traditions related to particular places. Legends can involve the recent or distant past, but are most important in linking people and specific places in the land.
The people also tell folktales, which involve all the people. They are understood to be fictional. These traditional tales also give moral or social lessons to youth, and are told for amusement about the way people are. Good storytellers were highly prized by the Mi'kmaq, as they are in every culture, which develop many means to tell their stories.
One spiritual capital of the Mi'kmaq nation is Mniku, the gathering place of the Míkmaq Grand Council or Santé Mawiómi, Chapel Island in Bras d'Or Lake of Nova Scotia. The island is also the site of the St. Anne Mission, an important pilgrimage site for the Mi'kmaq (Robinson 2005). The island has been declared a historic site.
First Nation subdivisions
Mi'kmaw names in the following table are spelled according to several orthographies. The Mi'kmaw orthographies in use are Míkmaw pictographs, the orthography of Silas Tertius Rand, the Pacifique orthography, and the most recent Smith-Francis orthography. The latter has been adopted throughout Nova Scotia and in most Mi'kmaw communities.
|Community||Province/State||Town/Reserve||Est. Pop.||Mi'kmaq name|
|Abegweit First Nation||Prince Edward Island||Scotchfort, Rocky Point, Morell||396||Epekwitk|
|Acadia First Nation||Nova Scotia||Yarmouth||996||Malikiaq|
|Annapolis Valley First Nation||Nova Scotia||Cambridge Station||219||Kampalijek|
|Aroostook Band of Micmac||Maine||Presque Isle||920||Ulustuk|
|Bear River First Nation||Nova Scotia||Bear River||272||Lsetkuk|
|Buctouche First Nation||New Brunswick||Buctouche||80||Puktusk|
|Burnt Church First Nation||New Brunswick||Esgenoôpetitj 14||1,488||Esk
|Chapel Island First Nation||Nova Scotia||Chapel Island||576||Potlotek|
|Eel Ground First Nation||New Brunswick||Eel Ground||844||Natuaqanek|
|Eel River Bar First Nation||New Brunswick||Eel River Bar||589||Ugpi'gangij|
|Elsipogtog First Nation||New Brunswick||Big Cove||3000+||Lsipuktuk|
|Eskasoni First Nation||Nova Scotia||Eskasoni||3,800+||Wékistoqnik|
|Fort Folly First Nation||New Brunswick||Dorchester||105||Amlamkuk Kwesawék|
|Micmacs of Gesgapegiag||Quebec||Gesgapegiag||1,174||Keskapekiaq|
|Nation Micmac de Gespeg||Quebec||Fontenelle||490||Kespék|
|Glooscap First Nation||Nova Scotia||Hantsport||360||Pesikitk|
|Indian Island First Nation||New Brunswick||Indian Island||145||Lnui Menikuk|
|Lennox Island First Nation||Prince Edward Island||Lennox Island||700||Lnui Mnikuk|
|Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation||Quebec||Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation||3,166||Listikujk|
|Membertou First Nation||Nova Scotia||Sydney||1,051||Maupeltuk|
|Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation||New Brunswick||Red Bank||527||Metepnákiaq|
|Miawpukek First Nation||Newfoundland and Labrador||Conne River||2,366||Miawpukwek|
|Qalipu First Nation||Newfoundland and Labrador||Newfoundland and Labrador||21,429||Qalipu|
|Millbrook First Nation||Nova Scotia||Truro||1400||Wékopekwitk|
|Pabineau First Nation||New Brunswick||Bathurst||214||Kékwapskuk|
|Paq'tnkek First Nation||Nova Scotia||Afton||500||Paqtnkek|
|Pictou Landing First Nation||Nova Scotia||Trenton||547||Puksaqtéknékatik|
|Indian Brook First Nation||Nova Scotia||Indian Brook (Shubenacadie)||2,120||Sipekníkatik|
|Wagmatcook First Nation||Nova Scotia||Wagmatcook||623||Waqm
|Waycobah First Nation||Nova Scotia||Whycocomagh||900||Wékoqmáq|
The pre-contact population is estimated at 3,000–30,000. In 1616, Father Biard believed the Mi'kmaq population to be in excess of 3,000, but he remarked that, because of European diseases, there had been large population losses during the 16th century. Smallpox and other endemic European infectious diseases, to which the Mi'kmaq had no immunity, wars and alcoholism led to a further decline of the native population. It reached its lowest point in the middle of the 17th century. Then the numbers grew slightly again, before becoming apparently stable during the 19th century. During the 20th century, the population was on the rise again. The average growth from 1965 to 1970 was about 2.5%.
The Mi'kmaq people have been commemorated in numerous ways, including the HMCS Micmac (R10), and place names such as Lake Micmac, and the Mic Mac Mall.
- See also: List of Grand Chiefs (Mi'kmaq)
- Pamela Palmater, professor at Ryerson University
- Annie Mae Pictou Aquash, activist (1946–1976)
- Nora Bernard, Canadian Indian residential school system activist
- Donald Marshall, Jr., wrongly convicted of murder
- Daniel N. Paul, Elder, author, tribal historian, columnist, and human rights activist
- Gabriel Sylliboy, Grand Chief of the Mi'kmaq Nation, 1918 to 1964
- Alice Azure, poet
- Natasha Henstridge, actor
- Rita Joe, poet
- Patti Catalano, marathon runner
- Sandy McCarthy, played for the Calgary Flames ice hockey team
- Everett Sanipass, played for the Quebec Nordiques ice hockey team
- Karlee Waldvogel, plays for the University of Ottawa GeeGees soccer team as a goalkeeper, reserve player for the Western New York Flash.
- Étienne Bâtard (18th century)
- Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope
- Joseph Francis, Vietnam War Veteran, Bronze Star with the Combat V for valour, Purple Heart for being wounded in combat, enrolled in the National Purple Heart Hall of Fame
- Sam Gloade
- Paul Laurent
- Judge Timothy Gabriel - first Mi'kmaw judge in Nova Scotia
- Peter Paul Toney Babey, a Mi'kmaq chief
- Indian Joe, a scout around the time of the American Revolutionary War
- Noel Jeddore, Saqmaw forced into exile (1865–1944)
- Noel Knockwood, Grand Council member and spiritual leader of the Mi'kmaq people
- Jerry Lonecloud, entertainer, ethnographer and medicine man
- Henri Membertou, Grand Chief and spiritual leader (c.1525-1611)
- Lawrence Paul, a chief of Millbrook First Nation
Maps showing the approximate locations of areas occupied by members of the Wabanaki Confederacy (from north to south):
Western Abenaki (Arsigantegok, Missisquoi, Cowasuck, Sokoki, Pennacook
In popular culture
The history of the Mi'kmaq feature in the Syfy television series Haven.
The Mi'kmaq are mentioned as well in Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary.
In the 2013 Canadian movie "Rhymes for Young Ghouls" the story centers around a Mi'kmaq Indian reservation in 1976 in the context of the residential school system. It is based on the historical abuse of the First Nations people, particularly those in the residential school system.
Mi'kmaq Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.