Posted by: Maureen Flynn-Burhoe | October 3, 2009

Mi’kmaq Social History

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.


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