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Micmac Customs And Traditions

My information about the customs and traditions of the Micmac Indians of Nova Scotia has been derived almost entirely from Abram and Newell Glode, the first a man of seventy-three years, the latter somewhat younger and of exceptionally pure blood for a time when none are wholly so. These two Indians have justly achieved a reputation among their tribe for intelligence and knowledge of their native lore. During the many days I have spent with them at Digby and elsewhere I have invariably found them as eager and interested in being questioned as I was in catechizing them. However, in most cases I have confirmed what they told me by information obtained from others, and I have read to them what I have written in order to avoid mistakes. It is a misfortune to these Indians that while all their tribe have been taught to read the characters invented by one of the early priests they have been debarred from learning the much simpler Roman characters by the successors of that priest, who until quite recently forbade Micmac children to attend the public schools. The Micmacs have a system of communicating while in the woods. Sticks are placed in the ground; a cut on one of them indicates that a message in picture-writing on a piece of birch bark is hidden near by under a stone. The direction in which the stick leans from its base upward indicates that in which the party moved, and thus serves as a convenient hint to those who follow to keep off their hunting grounds. The Game of Altestakun A game much in...

The Micmac Language

Within Algonquian, the Eastern languages are generally considered to constitute a genetic subgroup1 . Goddard provides a good overview of the languages in this branch. The precise number of distinct languages spoken at contact and their interrelationships are difficult to establish with certainty for several reasons. Many have disappeared. Attestation of some is limited to short word-lists, some showing internal dialect variation. Languages of many groups mentioned in early accounts were never documented at all. There was also continued contact among groups. Early authors differ in their appraisals of mutual intelligibility; some emphasize similarities, others differences. The northernmost and most divergent of the Eastern languages is Micmac or Mi’kmaq, spoken by 8,1002 in the Canadian maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, eastern New Brunswick), the Gaspe of Quebec, Labrador, and now Boston. Some children are still learning the language. There is dialect diversity among communities and age groups, with the greatest differences setting off the Restigouche community in Quebec. Major published documentation includes reference grammars3, a teaching grammar4 , dictionaries5 , and texts6 . Rand published a newspaper in the language, The Micmac Messenger, for 17 years. Fidelholtz 1968 contains a discussion of phonology with short dictionary, and Fidelholtz 1978 and Proulx 1978 verb morphology. The development of native writing systems is traced in Battiste 1984.7 The language of the Micmac Indians is very remarkable. One would think it might be exceedingly barren, limited in inflection, and crude. But just the reverse is the fact. It is copious, flexible, and expressive. Its declension of Nouns, and conjugation of Verbs, are as regular as the Greek, and twenty times...

Micmac Tribe

Micmac Indians, Mi’kmaq First Nation. (Migmak, ‘allies’; Nigmak, ‘our allies.’ Hewitt). Alternative names for the Micmac, which can be found in historical sources, include Gaspesians, Souriquois, Acadians and Tarrantines; in the mid-19th century Silas Rand recorded the word wejebowkwejik as a self-ascription.1 An important Algonquian tribe that occupied Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and Prince Edward Islands, the north part of New Brunswick, and probably points in south and west Newfoundland. While their neighbors the Abnaki have close linguistic relations with the Algonquian tribes of the great lakes, the Micmac seem to have almost as distant a relation to the group as the Algonquians of the plains2 Micmac Tribe History If Schoolcraft’s supposition be correct, the Micmac must have been among the first Indians of the north east coast encountered by Europeans, as he thinks they were visited by Sebastian Cabot in 1497, and that the 3 natives he took to England were of this tribe. Kohl believes that those captured by Cortereal in 1501 and taken to Europe were Micmac. Most of the early voyagers to this region speak of the great numbers of Indians on the north coast of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and of their fierce and warlike character. They early became friends of the French, a friendship which was lasting and which the English, after the treaty of Utrecht in 1713, by which Acadia was ceded to them, found impossible to have transferred to themselves for nearly half a century. Their hostility to the English prevented for a long time any serious attempts at establishing British settlements on the north coasts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick,...

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