The Mi’gmak were part of the Wabanki confederacy of independent clans led by patrilineal chiefs who met at intervals for regional consultations (Denys 1672, LeClerq 1691 in Dorey 1993).

Time Immemorial: Mi’kmac textile industry, quillwork, splint baskets, woven rugs, continues throughout centuries.

Mi’kmaq spirituality prior to conversion to Christianity included prayers, fasting, chanting, and praising Kisulkip. Sweatlodges alasutmokon were called “places of prayer.”

Mi’kmaq like other First Nations used wampum belts of rows of coloured beads to record consultations and transactions. Council discussions were recorded on Wampum Belts by each tribe to record its history. Rows of coloured beads were used to record meeting transactions. Reading Wampum belts demanded special skills in deoding. The Mi’kmaq wampum belt was last seen at Chapel Island in the 1940s.

1450 Mi’kmaqs used fish weirs to fish on rivers. 90% of the ancestors’ food came from the water. The ancestors lived in wikwams and wove textile carpets. Each animal was so respected that for example, all parts of the moose were used including the hooves which were medicinal. A wide variety of plants were used for healing.
1500 English, Portuguese, Breton, Basque Fishers fish and hunt whale off Mi’kmaq coastlands
1550 Fishers begin to preserve fish using Mi’kmaq method instead of salting which freed the holds of ships for more trade goods. Trade with Mi’kmaq increased.
1600’s First permanent French settlements along reclaimed marshlands
1600-1753 The French cohabiting with Mi’kmaq on Mi’kmaq lands. Mi’kmaq shared stories with French who recorded them.
1600-1700 Epidemics decimated 75% of Mi’kmaq population
1613 French – British war begins in Acadia
1613-1913 Three hundred years of Mi’kmaq conversion to Roman Catholic religion led to some blending of belief systems.
1650 All large furbearing animals on Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island are gone from overhunting.
1675 -1783 Peace and Friendship Treaties: Mi’kmaq negotiated a series of significant treaties.
1713 Louisbourg built
1740 Mi’kmaq traded moose hide with French
1749 Governor Cornwallis brought 2500 settlers to Mi’kmaq lands in NS.
1749-52 Extermination policy Cornwallis and Lawrence offered bounties for Mi’kmaq scalps
1755 Expulsion of the Acadians deeply hurt Mi’kmaq since these two communities shared many bonds. Families of mixed marriages were separated when the British forced Acadians to leave.

1750 Mi’kmaq used sealskin for gun cases, had silver buckles
1756-63 Treaty of Paris ended Seven Years War with a British victory. Mi’kmaq leaders are not included in negotiations concerning their lands. European settlements in Yarmouth, Shelbourne, Lunenberg, Port Royal, Halifax, Louisbourg, Charlottetown, Fort la Joie, Amherst…
1760s Influx of Loyalists on Mi’kmaq land
1762 Belcher’s Proclamation protected Mi’kmaq land rights.
1776-1867 In the northern half of British North America there were about 100,000 Europeans living in either Atlantic Canada or the St. Lawrence River area. First Nations outnumbered Europeans by at least two to one.

1800 The Name of Kluskap began to appear in traveller’s writings.
1867 British North America Act Post Confederation assumption that Mi’kmaq could be integrated into dominant society.
1895 Elders like Sally Mitchell, Rocky Point continued to use traditional medicine and teach traditional ways.
1899 Mi’kmaq language is one of world’s richest in vocabulary (Rand 1899)
Oyster fishing, Mi’kmaq attempt farming but aggressive expropriation of land curtails success. Lennox Island projects include cultivated blueberry farming.
1900 – Tuberculosis and polio epidemics
c. 1900 Rocky Point children are refused access to education because their parents have TB.
1911 Indian Act Large scale expropriation of Mi’kmaq lands and forced removal of Mi’kmaq residents.
1914-18 Mi’kmaq serve in WWI
1927 Indian Act forbids speaking of Mi’kmaq
1930s Depression: Mi’kmacs were like numerous poor whites who struggled through unemployment, poverty and disease.
1930s-1950s? Residential schools, like Shubenacadie using aggressive assimilation strategies and abuse caused intergenerational damage.
Mi’kmaq serve in WWII
1940s Debert archaeological site found
1950s Welfare Act. Bill C-31 1985, and SC judgments of 1995 continued to cause tensions.
1951 Indian Act deepens a crisis of identity
1960s Debert archaeological site carbon dating acknowledges indigenous land occupation since c.2500 years ago.
1969 White Paper called for assimilation of all First Nations peoples, the abrogation of their treaties, end of land claims, Trudeau rejected the White Paper in 1970.
1969 NIB formed
1969 Union of NS Indians formed
1972 NIB publisehd Control of Indian Education Policy Paper
1970s Augustine Mound archaeology project revealed Metepenanqiaq on Miramichi as oldest Red Bank, Mi’kmaq village with artefacts from 2500 years ago
1970s Revitalization of Mi’kmaq culture began
1980s - Youth suicide epidemic begins?: Mi’kmaq youth suicide rates are among highest in Canada.
1987 Grand Council of Mi’kmaq confirmed that pre-Confederation treaty ensured Mi’kmaq separate national identity and right to self-government
1990 Federal and provincial governments were shamed internationally when South African anti-apartheid leader gave a scathing review of his visit to a remote First Nations community
1990 Determined, informed, sophisticated and resourceful aboriginal leaders shifted the balance of power between the federal and aboriginal peoples through a brilliant strategy that led to the failure of the Meech Lake Accord. Move from reserves to cities.
1990s University educated First Nations lead protests at Oka
1992 Mi’kmaq visual artists contributed strong political statements through art at NGCand MCC exhibitions.
1993 Mi’kmaq hold Art as Healing Symposium
1993-4 United Nations scathing report on Canadian human rights records vis-à-vis First Nations
1994 Mi’kmaq self-government proposed
1994 Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples drafted at United Nations
c. 1995? Quebec Provincial Police, Federal fisheries officers waged war on Mi’kmaq fishers at Restigouche, Eel River, Burnt Chruch
1995-6 RCAP examined historical and contemporary tensions concerning relations between Aboriginal Peoples of Canada and settlers.
1996 Atlantic Policy Congree of First Nations Chiefs formed to develop culturally relevant alternatives to federal policies.
1999 c.6,500 Mi’kmaq speakers
1999 Rita Joe received Order of Canada

CC Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2004. Mi’kmaq Social History > Google Docs. Uploaded December 2007. http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_446ccmjshg9

6 Responses to “Mi’kmaq Social History”

  1. Rhea Says:

    Hey guys! I’m looking for the REASON why it’s so important to identity. If you know some of this, then plese publish it and email it to my E-mail.
    Thankyou.

    • Leo Head Says:

      Hi Rhea…….

      This is in reply to your request for a reason as to ” WHY ” IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO IDENTIFY. In truth it is a question which i have pondered in many ways in my own quest for knowledge and understanding of the Mi’kmaq peoples. A couple of years ago I discovered my own link to the L’nu and have since tried to answer the same question in regard to my own identify. First of all please note that i am not a status Aborigional, although my own ancestry points in that direction and my spirit dictates to me that i am of the L’nu. This being said i do not have the right to speak for my people, but for MY spirit alone.
      First of all, but diffinatly not the least, with identity comes the realization of exactly who you are, where you came from, and why you are here. Some would argue that the answers to these questions does not matter, that the fact that we exist is enough and to go with the flow of this river we call life – so to speak. It seems to be much easier to drift with the current than it is to test the waters and to swim against it’s pull. The problem with this is that we are captured in it’s tides and can only see or feel what the waters dictate. The current of change has been strong, and we have been taught that external changes must be accompanied by changes of the heart and spirit. So many changes in fact, that we have lost all since of who we truly are and with it our connection between who we are and our inner spirit – with it as well, our true purpose of existance.
      It has been my experience that what people do not understand they tend to try to change. If they fail to change that which they do not understand, they learn to hate. Finally, that which they learn to hate, they seek to distroy. In the last 560 or so years the Mi’kmaq peoples have disperately tryed to fight assimilation into other cultures. We have been beaten, ignored, scalped, shot on sight by proclumation of foriegn governments, have had our homes and homelands distroyed, been denied employment, starved by the greed of other nations seeking our resourses, and have been the subject of genocide. All in the name of change and of course assimalation. In the course of all of this we have had our identity taken away from us. If we identify with our people we are if fact honoring those who have gone before us. we honor our ancestors and in doing so we learn to honor our own spirits.
      We have lost our voice and so our right to be who we were meant to be. In losing our voice, we have lost our connection between who we are and our purpose of life. With the influx of the British so many years ago into our lands we became quickly outnumbered as they doubled and then quatrippled in ratio of the aborigional peoples. As their numbers increased so to their voice became louder and louder and louder still untill the voice of our people became a mear whisper in our lands and finnaly became unintellagible to the point of nonexistance. Our people feared the all of the sufferings of their ancestors so much so that they either threw away their identies, or exchanged them for an unattainable peace.
      If we choose to identify, we choose to have a voice. Maybe if enough of our people identify with who they truly are our voice will be loud enough to be heard. Maybe if we choose to be identified than our own spirits will again dictate who we are and have been in the past. If we identify and have the patience to teach others to the point whereby others come to understand who we are, they will not try to change. If we identify maybe others would come to know us and with that knowledge would come to love us as a people and fail to seek to destroy because of fear and ignorance.
      yes identifying is important. Not just to others but more importantly to ourselves. When a man’s soul is in balance with his spirit all things in life becomes of value. When this balance does not exist, life, laughter, peace, love becomes a mear shadow of what these things actually are. Our very souls become a place of torment rather than a place of peace and happiness. If you do not identify you do not know WHO you are and become just a reflection of what the world believes you to be. Thank you for forbearing the rambelings of an old man. May peace follow you and your inner spirit guide you.

      • andreadennis@membertou.ca Says:

        HI, I am a Mi’kmaq here and I read to what you have said here. Identity is one of the things that is hard to see and taking in that many would say that they are native. What was her clan from? what parts of the Atlantic was her family from as well?

  2. lili Says:

    do you have in informatoin on the salmon crise around the 1970-1980 thank you (if you any just email it to me with the email you see at the top)
    Lili:)

  3. Billy Tucker Says:

    Dear Sir/Madam, I am inquiring as to find anything about my family and our possible connection with the Mi Kmac people. Growing up in Long Island, NY, I was told by my grandparents that my dad’s mother was part Indian. Originating from the Mi kmac tribe. My grandmothers name was Mabel (Cooke0 Tucker. Grandma was born about 1900. She married William Tucker in Brooklyn NY.
    I am now retired and living in wewstern Illinois. I was always proud to have been told of my Indian ancestry. Is there any way I can find out if there is any truth to my connection with the Mi Kmac people? Thank you for any information you might send me.
    Billy Tucker

  4. Madison Says:

    Does anyone know what special skills the Mi’Kmaq had? Can’t find answers anywhere.


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