Mi’kmaq, also spelled Micmac, the largest of the Native American (First Nations) peoples traditionally occupying what are now Canada’s eastern Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island) and parts of the present U.S. states of Maine and Massachusetts.
Traditional Territory Mi’kmaq are among the original inhabitants of the Atlantic region in Canada, and inhabited the coastal areas of Gaspé and the Maritime Provinces east of the Saint John River.
When the Mi’kmaq first encountered Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries, their territory stretched from the southern portions of the Gaspé Peninsula eastward to most of modern-day New Brunswick, and all of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
Our word ” wigwam” comes from the Mi’kmaq “wikuom”, a dwelling. Wigwams were usually put up by the women and could be built in a day. The basic structure of the wigwam was five spruce poles, lashed together at the top with split spruce root and spread out at the bottom.
The Micmac may have been hunting, fishing, and gathering in their northern region since the time of the last ice age, some ten to twenty thousand years ago. The wandering Micmac were so well adapted to their environment that their culture changed very little before whites arrived in the 1500s.
The Mi’kmaq were hunter-gatherers, and were semi-nomadic in that they routinely moved between summer fishing villages near the coast to winter camps inland.
They lived in small villages of wigwams or lodges, which are houses made of wood and birchbark. A Micmac wigwam was only about the size of a modern camp tent, and Micmac people spent most of their time outside. Here are some pictures of wigwams like the ones Mi’kmaq Indians used.
The Shubenacadie Indian Residential School operated as part of Canadian Indian residential school system in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia between 1930 and 1967. It was the only one in the Maritimes and children from across the region were placed in the institution.
Of Nova Scotia’s 19,090 registered Mi’kmaq (in 2018), 10,878 live on reserve. Eight of these communities are on mainland Nova Scotia, and five are in Cape Breton.
Aboriginal People in NS
The Anishinaabeg (plural form of Anishinaabe) live from the Ottawa River Valley west across Northern Ontario and to the plains of Saskatchewan south to the northeast corner of North Dakota, northern Minnesota and Michigan, as well as the northern shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie.
The Micmacs of eastern Canada and the northeastern corner of the United States (who prefer the phonetic spelling Mi’kmaq) first appeared in their homeland approximately ten thousand years ago.
The Micmac tribe would assimilate into the population of British Canada while maintaining their culture. The tribe still exists today and has taken part in many foreign wars such as World War 2 as citizens of North America.
Definition of Micmac 1: a member of an American Indian people of eastern Canada. 2: the Algonquian language of the Micmac people.
The Mi’kmaq used a variety of weapons and tools to kill and process the game and fish upon which they depended. Spears and bows and arrows were used to take larger animals, while snares were employed to capture rabbits and partridge, and deadfalls were used for predators such as foxes and bears.