Mi’kmaq was the spelling of a tribe of Indians that had first contact with European explorers in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Through the years, the name has been changed to what we know today as Mic Mac. The word Mi’kmaq derives from the word nikmak, which means “my kin-friends” or allies. The rich and descriptive Mi’kmaq language was a member of the Algonkin family. Although every Mi’kmaq can understand each other, the dialect varies between bands. For example, the Mi’kmaq spoken in Quebec differs from that in Nova Scotia. The Mi’kmaq tribe settled in southwestern New Foundland in 1630. They were the “first nation people” (Nova Scotia 1) of Nova Scotia and later also settled in New England. They are the dominant tribe in the Canadian Maritimes and are f Roman Catholic faith, (Nova Scotia 1; Wallis and Wallis14, 21-22; Sultzman 1).
In traditional times, men, women and children all wore similar clothing. Pants were made out of animal hide, moccasins made from moose or seal skin, and sleeves made from fur or leather; tobacco pouches were worn by both sexes. Both men and women also wore a loose fur robe, but each sex wore the robe differently. Men wore it draped over the shoulders like a blanket, while women wore the robe wrapped tightly around the body under the arms. Babies were wrapped in fox, swan or goose skins. The skins were tanned by using animal brains, bird liver and oil and also by smoking. Then, in the nineteenth century the clothing of the Mi’kmaq tribe changed and became modernized. The women wore beaded peaked caps and woolen skirts. The men wore clothing that resembled European military uniforms (Nova Scotia 1-2).
Common Mi’kmaq homes were called wigwams. Wigwams were put up by women and usually built in one day. They were made with spruce poles that were tied together at the top and the bottoms of the poles were spread out to make a triangle shape. They then took birch bark, which is waterproof, and layered the sheets over and over until the structure was covered. The top of the wigwam was left open to act as a chimney. Animal furs and woven mats were used as flooring and an animal hide was hung to cover the door opening. Paintings of animals and birds decorated the outsides of the wigwams. When the tribe would move, the birch bark would be removed and taken with them(Nova Scotia 1).
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...a combined have about 25,000 Mi’kmaqs with only one recognized group in the United States. This group is called the Aroostook Band of MicMac and is located in Northern Maine, it has 500 members to date. The ABM was recognized by the state government in 1973 and by the Federal government in 1991. There are more than 2,000 Mi’kmaq living in the Boston, Massachusetts area and several hundred living in New York City, (1).
One might conclude that the Mi’kmaq tribes, in traditional times, lived a common and fruitful life. With only the resources of the land, they managed to overcome many obstacles and keep the Mi’kmaq tradition alive.
Davis, Stephen A. Mi’kmaq. Tantallon, NS: Rour East Publications, 1991. 27.
Nova Scotia Museum. Info sheet-The Mi’kmaq. Online. World Wide
Sultzman, Lee. MicMac. Online. World Wide Web. http:\www.dickshovel.com/mic.html. 1-2
Wallis, Wilson D. and Ruth Sawtell. The MicMac Indians of Eastern Canada. St. Paul, Minnesota: North Central Publishing Company, 1955. 14, 21-22, 27-28, 51, 68, 192-194.
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