Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Mi'kmaq are an Algonquian-speaking people of Eastern Woodland culture, and the dominant First Nations group of the Canadian Maritime provinces. At the time of first European contact they occupied what is now eastern New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. Traditionally the Mi'kmaq subsisted by hunting, fishing, and gathering, with the fur trade being of great importance in the early contact period. In the twentieth century the Mi'kmaq live on government reserves; thirteen in Nova Scotia, nine in New Brunswick, four in Quebec, two in Prince Edward Island, and one in Newfoundland. Welfare and work projects are the major sources of income on most reserves. Men travel to cities to work in construction or factories from some reserves.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Eastern Woodlands



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF World Cultures collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Mi'kmaq (NJ05) collection covers a period from about 1500 to the late twentieth century, primarily in the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada. The main source of information on this group will be found in Wallis and Wallis (n.d., no. 1), supplemented by Le Clercq (n. d., no. 2), and Denys (n. d.., no. 3), for historical depth. In addition to the above, a brief culture summary of the Mi’kmaq people is presented in Bock (n. d., no. 9). Additional ethnographic topics described in this collection are as follows: the hunting territory system in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, in Speck (n. d., no. 4); Shamanism in Johnson (n. d., no. 6); culture loss and culture change for the period of 1912-1950 in Wallis and Wallis (n. d., no. 7); the contemporary Mi’kmaq of the Restigouche Reserve (up to 1961), in Bock (n. d., no. 11; and social revitalization and change in regard to the religious festival of St. Anne described in Chute (n. d., no. 12).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document

Overview by

John Beierle


Band Councils Use COUNCILS ( 623)

Bible Group Use CONGREGATIONS ( 794)

Buguladamuc –mythical dwarfs– Use SPIRITS AND GODS ( 776)

Buo'win –shaman or diviner– Use SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS ( 756) and/or MAGICIANS AND DIVINERS ( 791)

Ginap –"strong men", some with supernatural power– Use SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS ( 756) with STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE ( 554)

Gluskap –mythic culture hero– Use SPIRITS AND GODS ( 776)

Grand Chief –political district heads: Mi’kmaq country was divided into four political districts, each of which comprised several regional bands. A or Gran Chief headed each of these distrcts. The Grand Chief of Cape Breton was the preeminent leader of the Mi’kmaq nation– Use CHIEF EXECUTIVE ( 643)

Grand Council Use PARLIAMENT ( 646)

Kji Saqmaw –or Grand Chief headed a political district.– Use CHIEF EXECUTIVE ( 643)

Local Group Use COMMUNITY STRUCTURE ( 621)

Membertou –an outstanding Great Chief of Mi’kmaq society– Use CHIEF EXECUTIVE ( 643)

Mntu –impersonal, preternatural power of the universe– Use SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES ( 778) with COSMOLOGY ( 772)

Putu Swaqh –the Wabanaki Confederation; an alliance of Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and Abenaki communities against the English– Use INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS ( 648)

Putu's –orator; wampum record keeper– Use LOCAL OFFICIALS ( 624)

Puwo-win –shaman or sorcerer– Use SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS ( 756) and/or SORCERY ( 754)

Sagamore –the head of a residential kin group– Use COMMUNITY HEADS ( 622)

Skadegamutc –the ghost of a dead person– Use ESCHATOLOGY ( 775)

State Council Use PARLIAMENT ( 646)

Wikuom –cone-shaped dwellings– Use DWELLINGS ( 342)

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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