Tribes of Canada
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Micmac. From the native term
Migmac, meaning "allies." Also called:
|Matu-as´-wi skitchi-nú-ûk, Malecite name,
meaning "porcupine Indians," on account of their use of
||porcupine quills in ornamentation.
|Shonack, Beothuk name, meaning
Souriquois, name by which they were known to the French.
Connections. The Micmac belonged to the
Algonquian linguistic stock and to that part of the Central
Algonquian group represented typically by the Cree, though their
speech differed in some striking particulars. Their closest
relatives, however, were the Malecite, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and
Location. Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward
Island, the eastern shore of New Brunswick as far north as
Restigouche, the head of the Bay of Fundy, and, in later times,
Rand (1894) states that the Micmac distinguished
seven districts, Prince Edward Island where the head chief lived,
constituting one of these. The other six consisted of two groups of
three each: one, called Sigunikt, including the districts of
Memramcook, Pictou (at the north end of Nova Scotia), and
Restigouche (in northern New Brunswick and neighboring parts of
Quebec); the other, called Kespoogwit (south and east Nova Scotia),
including Annapolis (in southwest Nova Scotia), Eskegawage (in east
Nova Scotia from Canso to Halifax), and Shubenacadie (in north
central Nova Scotia).
Antigonishe (?), probably on or near the site of the
present Antigonishe, Nova Scotia.
Beaubassin, a mission, probably Micmac, site unknown.
Boat Harbor, near Pictou, Nova Scotia.
Chignecto, Nova Scotia.
Eskusone, on Cape Breton Island.
Indian Village, near Lake Badger, Fogo County, Newfoundland.
Isle of St. Johns, probably in Nova Scotia.
Kespoogwit, given by one authority as a village, see under
Kigicapigiak, on Cascapediac River, Bonaventure County, Quebec.
Le Have, near the mouth of Mercy River, about Lunenberg, Nova
Maria, in Maria township, Bonaventure County, Quebec.
Minas, in Nova Scotia.
Miramichi, on the right bank of Miramichi River at its mouth.
Nalkithoniash, perhaps in Nova Scotia.
Nipigiguit, Bathurst, at the mouth of Nipisiguit River, New
Pictou, at the north end of Nova Scotia.
Pohomoosh, probably in Nova Scotia.
Restigouche, on the north bank of Restigouche River near its mouth,
Bonaventure County, Quebec.
Richibucto, at the mouth of Richibucto River, Kent County, New
Rocky Point, on Prince Edward Island.
Shediac, at Shediac on the east coast of New Brunswick.
Shubenacadie, at the head of Shubenacadie River, Nova Scotia.
Tabogimkik, probably in Nova Scotia.
History. Some Micmac may have been encountered by Norse
voyagers about A. D. 1000. They were probably seen next by John
Cabot in 1497, and from that time on they were constantly visited by
explorers and even more by fishing vessels from France and England.
During this period they acted as middlemen between the Europeans and
the Indians farther west and south and found this profitable. Early
in the seventeenth century they were missionized by the French and
became so devoted to French interests that after the cession of
Acadia to England in 1713 disputes and difficulties between them and
the English continued until 1779. Since then they have been peaceful
occupants of the territory with which they have always been
associated and have gradually adopted the ways and customs of
Population. Mooney's (1928) estimate for the Micmac applying
to the year 1600 is 3,500. This seems to be based on Biard's 1611
estimate of 3,000 to 3,500. (See Jesuit Relations, 1858.) In 1760
they were reported to number sonewhat under 3,000 but after that
date they increased and in 1884 were officially reported as 4,037.
The Canadian Report of Indian Affairs for 1904 gives 3,861, but it
does not include the Micmac of Newfoundland.
Connections in which they have become noted. The Micmac are
|(1) as having been one of the earliest
Indian tribes of the North American continent, if not the
very earliest, to be
||encountered by Europeans, and
|(2) that, in spite of that fact
and contrary to the general impression, they suffered no
permanent decline in numbers
||and continued to occupy the territories, or
at least a part of the territories, in which they had been
The Indian Tribes of North of America, by
John Swanton, 1953