Mi'kma’ki Early Years
Mi'kmaq Illustration by Christopher Hoyt
One of my great pleasures is researching Mi'kmaw history. Over the years, I've been awed, surprised and full of admiration when I've read the early writers.
Fish fascinated me. Why? The abundance of fish, and the sustenance it provided in the early days.
Here are some of the quotes I came across;
...In the middle of March, fish begin to spawn, and to come up from the sea into certain streams, often so abundantly that everything swarms with them. Any one who has not seen it could scarcely believe it. You cannot put your hand into the water, without encountering them. "
.....Biard , Jesuit Relations Volume 3. p.79.
John Cabot reported,' ".. the sea is full of fish that can be taken not only with nets but with fishing baskets. "
"From the economic viewpoint, the sea and its products were of primary importance for the Micmac, the sea providing them with possibly 90% of the food they consumed and keeping them adequately supplied for 10 of the 12 months of the year." Hoffman, "The Historical Ethnography of the Micmac of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century", 1955
" ... at night with their canoes and their torches....The Salmon or the Trout seeing the fire which shines upon the water, come wheeling around the canoe.He who is standing up has in his hand a harpoon...But sometimes the spear did not take hold.... This did not prevent them from taking ahunderd and fifty to two hundred in a night." ( Denys 'The Description and Natural History of the Coasts of North America (Acadia, Greenwood Press 1968)
"They ... do eat it new(freshly caught).... which I believe to be one of the best instrument of their health and long life." (Lescarbot, Nova Francia, p.282)
Some of the early writing also gives us a glimpse of the spirituality of the Mi'kmaq, their connection to Mother Earth, and to all she provided.
"...who know the rendezvous of every one[fish], and the time of their return, go to wait for them in good devotion to bid them welcome..."(Lescarbot, Nova Francia, p.283).
What are your favourite quotes? Why? Do you have others connected to fishing and the early Mi’kmaq. Send them along, and I’ll be happy to post them.
Please check back often for wonderful facts re Mi'kmaq in
honour of Mi'kmaq History month, October. Posts will
continue until the end of October.
Mi'kmaq Song, a time travel story set in Mi'kmaw territory in
the early 1600's. Awesome reviews.