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Malecite Indians of Canada

Malecite. Many explanations of the name have been offered but the most probable is that of Chamberlain (MS.), who says it is from Malisit, the Micmac term for them, which means "broken talkers."Also called:

  Etchemin, perhaps from tchinem, "men."
  "Muskrats," by some of their neighbors.
  Wula´stegwi?ak, meaning "Good River People," name used by themselves, referring to the St. John.

Connections. The Malecite belonged to the Algonquian linguistic family, their nearest relatives being the Passamaquoddy, and after them the Penobscot, Abnaki, and Pennacook. They were frequently classed with these under the general name Abnaki.

Location. In the valley of St. John River, New Brunswick, but extending slightly into the northeastern corner of Maine.


Maurault (1866) makes a distinction between Malecite and Etchemin, but there seems to have been no valid foundation for this.


Medoctec, about 10 miles below Woodstock, N. B.
Okpaak, on the middle course of St. John River, N. B.
Saint Anne, on an island near Frederickton, N. B.
Viger, in Viger township, Temiscouata County, Quebec Province.

History. Like the Abnaki, the Malecite trace their origin to some region in the southwest. Early in the sixteenth century some of them were probably encountered by French and English explorers and fishermen, but they were first referred to specifically by Champlain in 1604, though his "Etechemins" were on the St. Croix River and were perhaps Passamaquoddy. Some years later Fort La Tour was built on St. John River, and it became a noted resort for members of this tribe. After the English gained possession of Malecite territory, certain lands were assigned to the Indians. In 1856, according to Schoolcraft (1851-57), these had become reduced to the valley of "the Tobique river, and the small tract at Madawaska, Meductic Point, and Kingsclear, with their small rocky islands near St. John, containing 15 acres." The descendants of the Malecite live partly in New Brunswick and partly in the province of Quebec, while a few appear in the population statistics of the State of Maine.

Population. The Malecite population is estimated by Mooney to have been 800 in 1600. In 1884 there were 767 (584 in New Brunswick; 183 in Quebec); in 1904, 805 (702 in New Brunswick; 103 in Quebec). The United States Census of 1910 returned 142 living on the south side of the International Boundary, of whom 138 were in Maine.

Connection in which they have become noted. The name of the Malecite is preserved in that of a small town called Maliseet in New Brunswick, and one of its synonyms in Etchemin River, Province of Quebec.

The Indian Tribes of North of America, by John Swanton, 1953

Canadian Indians

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