The purpose of this program is to promote, advocate for and raise the level of Tribal unity and community interaction while increasing the degree of awareness of Tribal Programs, functions and activities. This program is designed by sharing expertise, resources and through exchanging ideas that will provide a forum to assist our Tribe to carry out their mandate. The purpose is also to maintain this by respecting our elders, helping Micmac people through friendship, harmony, quality of service, cultural integrity and awareness.
The word culture has two root words; "cult" meaning to worship and "ure" meaning earth. Culture is in essence the "worship of the earth." Mimajuagan has deeper meaning to the beliefs of the Mi'kmaq, "mimaju" "agan" is "way of life." Mi'kmaq cultural heritage is rooted in our connection to the earth. Just as the roots of plants draw nourishment from the water and nutrients underground, so do our human bodies and spirits draw from where our people originally worked the soil and ate of the earth and sea.
It is difficult for some people to understand mimajuagan, particularly that there is no separation of physical and spiritual life or the continuum of life. It is no wonder that at first contact with alien cultures, the result was a collision of cultures, consequently Mi'kmaq were labeled as the lost tribe or souls, which needed salvation and be civilized. As a result it was made illegal by foreign governments for the Mi'kmaq to continue the practice of mimajuagan and the teachings of the seven generations - through all this, some of our wise elders were looking seven generations ahead and preserving the language, wisdom, teachings and the ways of the Mi'kmaq.
Again, let's return to the holistic belief in language as an example: When a Mi'kmaq makes reference to the Spirit of our ancestors; we call upon the "engijamig." This translates into English as "spirit" and also as "shadow." This concept in the Mi'kmaq language indicates our spiritual nature and the conviction that we carry our ancestors with us and they provide us with guidance. While I see my ancestors as my shadow, physically, the ancestors are always with me; science describes this relationship through DNA. In the cycle of life, I am part of the evolution and physically evolve with life around me, making attempts to balance the past with the present. However, the DNA of my ancestors, language, teachings and traditional values are passed on through me to my children and grandchildren. Respect our ancestors and the willingness of our children to learn the language and traditions can not be separated.
Until traders from Europe came with goods, such as copper kettles and iron knives, Mi'kmaq lived pretty much as their early Woodland ancestors did. They dressed in clothing made of leather and furs such as beaver, otter, caribou, moose and deer. The skins were to make them water resistant. The tanned leather was soft, supple and easily worked. Usually clothing was decorated with the designs colored with paints made of yellow and red ochre, charcoal, lignite, manganese and ground white shell. Vegetable dyes such as bloodroot and red bedstraw, alder and spruce bark were also used. Porcupine quills, moose hair and wampum (shell beads made of the whelk shell or quahog clam) were used for decoration too. (Maine State Museum, Augusta)
Throughout the fall and winter, Mi'kmaq families lived dispersed over the large territory of Mi'kma'ki. When living inland, they often established their camps at rapids and waterfalls where fishing was good. Outlets of lakes were also favorite fishing stations, as were the confluences of rivers and streams. Mi'kmaq was excellent canoe builders and the rivers provided them with highways into the hinterland for following the fish, otter and beaver. In the winter, wearing snowshoes, Mi'kmaq hunters chased caribou and moose, which couldn't make quick getaways in the snow.
Usually, throughout the spring and summer, Mi'kmaq were at the coast digging clams and fishing cod, salmon, sturgeon, trout and other fish. They hunted porpoise, seal and all kinds of waterfowl. Women and children collected eggs from fish and fowl; they gathered different grasses, rushes and roots to make bag like baskets; men and boys speared salmon by torch light; whole families dug clams when the tide was low. Late in the summer, women and children picked berries and nuts. During such periods of abundance, Mi'kmaq (as many as 200 people consisting of groups of family and friends) would come together and have a good time "MAWIOMI." In the fall, the Mi'kmaq would split up into small groups again, each of which would try to survive the harsh winter days of scarcity.
Mi'kmaq territorial boundaries, Mi'kma'ki, were vaguely associated with the water divides in the hinterland. Natural demarcations in the landscape and along the coast were generally respected between neighboring Mi'kmaq and other Aboriginal groups. Each hunting group roamed the area well known to them and maintained sporadic contact with other groups. Mi'kmaq families held their territories in communal use. There was no private landownership, although, in times of scarcity, feuds may have developed over the right to hunt and fish in certain regions.
Mi'kmaq calendar: this disk depicts the historical seasonal movements of animals, plants and Ul'oo (Mi'kmaq). The yearly round is divided in two main periods:
Abundance in the summer: During this time, families gathered in bands at the sea coast; European trading vessels and fisherman came to the Mi'kmaq coast in this season.
Scarcity in the winter: During these months, Mi'kmaq families were dispersed over Mi'kma'ki, often hunting in the riverine regions of the hinterland.
Created by: Wallis & Wallis, 1955:104 | Calendar painted by: Monica Alexander
For information on the Micmac calendar
please contact John Dennis, Cultural Director
Mi'kmaq divided their year into "tepgunsejig" (moons), which correspond to the modern English months). The name they gave to their moons made sense, for they were the most important characteristics of the Mi'kmaq way of life at a particular time of year. English names are relatively strange, we use December, which Latin means tenth, to mark our twelfth month and March is called after a pre-Christian God of war: Mars!