The Mi’kmaq, Abenaki & Maliseet

Published on January 20, 2013 by Carol

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Ancient Maliseet Settlement

The Mi’kmaq, Abenaki and Maliseet all lived in eastern Canada. While the Abenaki were farmers, the Mi’kmaq and their allies, the Maliseet, had become hunter-gatherers when they settled in this area.

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The Mi’kmaq depended on fish and sea mammals when living in coastal summer villages, and hunted and gathered from their interior winter camps. As middlemen, they traded with hunters from the north and farmers in the south. Mi’kmaq are skilled canoeists. Their sea-going craft have humped profiles. Sails were added in 1600′s, when they also started sailing European shallops (pointed bows and sterns).

The Abenaki people lived in what is now the northern New England states and the southern Canadian Atlantic provinces. They farmed the “The Three Sisters” (beans, corn, squash) and lived along fertile river floodplains, also rich in fish and game. In extended families, they hunted and trapped in winter, and gathered in small villages besides rivers and at the Atlantic coast to fish and plant in spring and summer. Settlement and wars drove many Abenaki north into the St. Lawrence valley.

The Abenaki were skilled and mobile guerilla warriors. Because they disappeared into Canada, the Abenaki in the New England states called them Canadian Indians, surrendering part of their traditional lands in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

While the French traded with the Mi’kmaq, they also continued to trade with the Penobscot, a tribe of the Abenaki, creating rivalry. By 1620, wars and epidemics had reduced the Mi’kmaq population by 75 percent.

Source: Canoemuseum

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