• Images of the Mi’kmaq – an Evolution

    The Appearance of the Mi’kmaq So far our only portrayal of what the Mi’kmaq looked like was in the Eighteenth Century engravings found in the travel books of the time. The people were Europeanised by being presented in the pose of the Apollo of the Belvedere, a Roman statue possibly from the time of the Emperor Hadrian. These engraved pictures, sometimes with outlandish vegetation, were created largely from the imagination of the artists, helped perhaps by descriptions written by the early explorers. So imprecise was their knowledge of what they were illustrating that the Mi’kmaq on the right is labelled “Acadian man” and not “sauvage” as you would expect. The…

  • Early Explorers and the Bringing of Christianity to the Mi’kmaq

    We are fortunate that quite early on explorers and colonisers began to write things down about the Mi’kmaq which have survived. They are mentioned here and there in various travel accounts from the Fifteenth to the Seventeenth Centuries and from those brief descriptions, such as you read in Verrazano, you get the idea that different groups, Mi’kmaq or not, had quite different personalities and exhibited various forms of behaviour. This was discussed an an earlier blog post. A French explorer, former soldier and coloniser called Nicolas Denys (1598? – 1688) came to New France, long called Acadia, in 1632 as a coloniser, and indeed he set up settlements in a…

  • The Archaic Period ends and the Mi’kmaq arrive.

    In my last post I talked about what I called the Archaic Period, spanning perhaps 8,000-3,000 years BP. It was a time of climate change which meant a change in how people fed themselves, clothed themselves and how and where they lived. This influenced the kinds of tools and weapons they needed to survive and making sense of all these artefacts and putting them into some kind of order is almost impossible with the present level of our knowledge. I had explained that I preferred to call the period “Archaic” rather than Pre-Ceramic because the people most likely to have populated the Island were a group called by that name,…

  • The Noble Savage

    When we study about North American aboriginals we seldom, if ever, stop to explore the tremendous impact these Indians, as they were called, had on the European imagination. The first extended contact of the Mi’kmaq with European nations was during the French period (about 1600-1758), and after the conquest, the English. The French relationship with the aboriginals in Acadia was one of quiet exploitation combined with religious conversion. Things did not get unpleasant until the mid-1750s, just before the Deportation, when a priest, the Abbé LeLoutre, caused a great deal of trouble, incited violence as a threat and perhaps actively caused funds required to build Fort Beausejour to be diverted…

  • P. E. I. Stone Tools and Weapons in the Archaic Period

    The Palaeo Indian period, which formed the basis of my discussion of stone tools and weapons in the preceding post, was a period of incredibly dynamic changes in the geology of Prince Edward Island. Looking again at these maps of the geological history of the region by Natural Resources Canada, we see that around 13,000 BP, with the great rise in water levels following the melting of the glaciers, the Island was three islands! Three thousand years later, the crust of the earth had rebounded to the point where there was a massive land corridor to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. This is the time when the Island was first…