Saturday, October 3, 2009

Molly Muise and the Mi'Kmaq

The first human inhabitants of what we now know as Nova Scotia were the ancestors of the Mi'Kmaq. The original territory of the Mi'Kmaq included the current maritime provinces, and the Gaspe penninsula. Later on this range was extende into Newfoundland and New England. Archaeological evidence shows that these people were living in our region, known to them as Kespukwitk, more than eleven thousand years ago. Originally a semi-nomadic people, the Mi'Kmaq used the shores of the Annapolis Basin and the Bay of Fundy as seasonal hunting and fishing locations. Seals, lobster, porpoise and shellfish were among the species which were harvested in this area. The abundance of white ash on the North Mountain was also useful in the production of traditional woven baskets. Archaeology has also shown that these people made extensive use of the inland water systems. When part of the Mersey River was drained a few years ago, evidence was unearthed which showed that eel weirs had been used in the same location for thousands of years.

Our photograph today, taken circa 1880, is one of the earliest known photographic images of a member of the Mi'kmaq. Molly Miuse was born about 1810 to Joseph and Nancy (Malagash) Muise. In this photograph she is seen wearing the traditional peaked cap with a double curve design. The name Muise is an interesting one as it provides evidence for the long term relationship between the Mi'Kmaq and the French/Acadians. The story of how the Mi'Kmaq assisted the French at the early settlement of Port Royal is well known. Without their help the small group at the Habitation would have not survived the winter of 1605-06. This relationship was extended into a long term political alliance with the Mi'Kmaq siding with the French against the British. The name Muise shows us that not all alliances were political. This name originates with the French Philippe Muis de Pobomcoup who married Therese de Saint-Castin in 1707. Therese was the daugher of Vincent, Baron de Saint-Castin and his Abenaki wife Marie Pidicwanmikwe. Pobomcoup's children marry into both the Acadian and Mi'Kmaq communities. Today the name Muise or Meuse can be both Acadian and Mi'Kmaq.

All for now,

1 comment:

  1. I notice in this artical it is stated that the Mi'kmaq harvested lobster. Where can I find documented proof of this? I need it for legal purposes.