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MICMACS


284


MICMACS


eastern Alpon()uins. The first place lit'loiigod to the "father" of that nation, nanielv, the Ottawa tribe, which received as its share the "land of origins"; the second, called Wapanakiag, the "country of the dawn", fell to the lot of the Abenakis. while the third province, known as Miginapip. was allotteii to the Mic- macs. Until the arrival of the white men, an ainuial

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^Aho made you the Great God indeed made me What for the Great God made you He wanted

indeed that I know Him I pray to Him I love Him I serve Him so that

to Heaven I will go were they created men(Indian3) they were created indeed all perhaps to Heaven will go such as indeed are baptized are wise those only to Heaven will go who tJien is wise he that indeed greatly loves the Creator moreover also tries to ful61 as he is commanded and his neighbour

be loves him


ceremony long recalled this compact. There is a probability that the Micmacs were visited Isy Sebas- tian Cabot (1497) and by Cortereal (1501). They welcomed the French and their religion, preached to them by secular priests and Jesuits, as well as by Recollects and Capuchins. Father Biard (1611) has left us an interesting account of this tribe, which he characterized as mild and peaceful in temperament. He estimated its numbers at three thou.sand or three thousand five hundred. The Capuchins even opened for it and the white settlers the first high school within the limits of New France, and a report of the Micmac missions sent to Rome (163.S) located one of them in Porta Regio. Father Leclercq, a French Recollect who did much for their instruction, called them fias- pesians. probably t)ecau.se he had first landed (1675) on theda.spi'- peninsula, where he successfully lalioured for about twelve years. It was not until 16'J3 that these aborigines t)ecame officially known under their true name. (Juick to appreciate the religion of the French, the Micmacs were no less faithful to the flag which to them symbolized it. Though not given to the cruel practices of the Iroijuois and other eastern tribes, they proved their braverj- by their active share in the French and English wars^ and their lasting hostility to the colonization schemes of England. The erection of forts on the coast, especially the one at


Halifax, exasperated them, but on the fall of Canada, Abb(5 Maillard (1735-62) succeeded in reconciling them to the new order. Several chiefs made their for- mal submission (1761), and ever since, though more in sympathy with the French, the Micmacs have re- mained loyal to the British Crown. In 1778 the I'niti'd States endeavoured to incite them to revolt, liut Father Bourg, at the request of the colonial author- ities, restrainecl them from the war-path.

The .Micmacs originally dwelt in the ordinary con- ical wig\vams common to most Algonquin tribes ; their garments were of dressed leather and onuuiicntcd with an abundance of fringe; their government resembled that of the New England aborigines; and their main occupation was fishing. Except in the case of the chiefs, polygamy was not general. There is an old tradition, related by an .\benaki of Oldtown (Nicolar, " Life and Traditions of the Red Men ", 1S93J, that the Indians came from the West while the white men originated in the East. The Micmacs are remarkable for the fact that they are the only Canadian tribe which ever used hieroglyphs, or ideograms, as a means of acquiring religious and secular knowledge. These were invented in 1677 by Father Leclercq, who took the idea from the rude signs he one day saw some chil- dren draw on birch I^ark with coal, in their attempt to memorize the prayers he had ju.st taught them. They consisted of more or less fanciful characters, a few of which, such as a star for heaven and an orb for the earth, bore some resemblance to the object repre- sented. A number of manuals were composed which remained in manuscript until 1866, when Father Kau- der, a Redemptorist who for some time ministered to them, had tv'pe bearing the ideograms cast in Austria, with which he printed a catechism and prayer book. Though the hieroglyphics are still known by the Mic- macs, for all general purposes Roman type has been substituted, in which a little newspaper is published monthly in their own language at Restigouche, Que- bec. In the autumn of 1S49 the Protestants formed a Micmac Missionary Society, which commenced work the following year and made a few proselytes in the vicinity of Charlottetown. Rev. Silas Rand, a great linguist and prolific writer, was the principal agent. The Indians, almo.st without exception, have remained steadfast in their fidelity to the Church of their first


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Where the first M


Fort f)F Port Rn\ \L


24 June, 1810


8ouriquois were baptized


missionaries. Another point for which the Micmacs may be said to be remarkable is the manner in which their population holds its own in spite of many diffi- culties, such as the bad example given by the whites and the facility with which they can procure intoxi- cants. In 1891 they had increased to 4108; and later, a careful census taken by one of the Capuchins, living among them since 1894, showed that they numbered 3850 in Canada and 200 in Newfoundland. The Blue Book of the Canadian Government for 1909 sets down their numbers at 3961 within the Dominion alone, practically all of whom are Catholics. .\11 the