The Míkmaq or Mi'kmaq (sometimes spelled Micmac in English, and formerly Mìgmaq (Mi'gmaq) in Míkmaw) are a First Nations or Native American people, indigenous to northeastern New England, Canada's Atlantic Provinces, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. The word Míkmaw is an adjectival form of the name for the people, Míkmaq.
The nation has a population of about 40,000, of whom approximately one-third still speak the Algonquian language Lnuísimk. Lnuísimk was once written in Míkmaq hieroglyphic writing and is now written using most letters of the standard Latin alphabet.
Members of the Míkmaq First Nation historically referred to themselves as Lnu, but the Míkmaq's French allies, to whom the Míkmaq referred as Níkmaq, meaning "my kin", initially referred to the Míkmaq (as is written in Relations des Jésuites de la Nouvelle-France) as "Souriquois" (the Souricoua River was a travel route between the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence) or "Gaspesians". Over time, their French allies and succeeding immigrating nations’ peoples began to refer to the Lnúk as Níkmaq, (invariably corrupting the word to various spellings such as Mik Mak, Mic Mac, etc.). The British originally referred to them as Tarrantines.
The Míkmaq were members of the Wapnáki (Wabanaki Confederacy), an alliance with four other Algonquian nations: the Abenaki, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet. At the time of contact with the French (late 16th century), they were expanding from their maritime base westward along the Gaspé Peninsula /St. Lawrence River at the expense of Iroquioian Mohawk tribes, hence the Míkmaq name for this peninsula, Kespek ("last-acquired"). In 1610, Chief Membertou concluded an alliance with the French Jesuits which affirmed the right of Míkmaq to choose Catholicism, Míkmaw tradition, or both.
The Míkmaq were allies with the French and were amenable to limited French settlement in their midst. After France lost political control of Acadia in 1710, the Míkmaq soon found themselves overwhelmed by the British, who seized much of the land without payment and, in 1755, deported the French. Between 1725 and 1779, the Míkmaq signed a series of peace and friendship treaties with Great Britain, but none of these were land cession treaties. The nation historically consisted of seven districts, which was later expanded to eight with the ceremonial addition of Great Britain at the time of the 1749 treaty. Later the Míkmaq also settled Newfoundland as the unrelated Beothuk tribe became extinct. Míkmaq representatives also concluded the first international treaty with the United States after its declaration of independence, the Treaty of Watertown.
The Míkmaw territory was divided into seven traditional "districts". Each district had its own independent government and boundaries. The independent governments had a district chief and a council. The council members were band chiefs, elders, and other worthy community leaders. The district council was charged with performing all the duties of any independent and free government by enacting laws, justice, apportioned fishing and hunting grounds, made war, and sued for peace, etc.
The Seven Míkmaq Districts are Kespukwitk, Sikepnékatik, Eskíkewaq, Unamákik, Piktuk aqq Epekwitk, Sikniktewaq, and Kespékewaq.
In addition to the district councils, there was also a Grand Council or Santé Mawiómi. The Grand Council composed of "Keptinaq", or Captains in English, who were the district chiefs. Also Elders, the Putús (Wampum belt reader, historian, and dealt with the treaties with the non-natives and other Native tribes), the women council, and the Grand Chief. The Grand Chief was a title given to one of the district chiefs, which was usually from the Míkmaq district of Unamáki or Cape Breton Island. This title was hereditary and usually went to the Grand Chief's eldest son. The Grand Council met on a little island on the Bras d'Or lake in Cape Breton called "Mniku", on a reserve today call Chapel Island or Potlotek. To this day, the Grand Council still meet at the Mniku to discuss current issues within the Míkmaq Nation.
Míkmaw names in the table are spelled according to several orthographies. The Míkmaw orthographies in use are Míkmaw pictographs, the orthography of Silas Tertius Rand, the Pacifique orthography, and the most recent Smith-Francis orthography, which has been adopted throughout Nova Scotia and in most Míkmaw communities.
|Community||Province/State||Town/Reserve||Est. Pop.||Míkmaq name|
|Abegweit First Nation||PE||Scotchfort, Rocky Point, Morell||396||Epekwitk|
|Annapolis Valley||NS||Cambridge Station||219||Kampalijek|
|Aroostook Band of Micmac||ME||Presque Isle||920||Ulustuk|
|Bear River First Nation||NS||Bear River||272||Lsetkuk|
|Buctouche First Nation||NB||Buctouche||80||Puktusk|
|Burnt Church First Nation||NB||Burnt Church 14||1,488|| Esk|
|Chapel Island First Nation||NS||Chapel Island||576||Potlotek|
|Eel Ground First Nation||NB||Eel Ground||844||Natuaqanek|
|Eel River Bar First Nation||NB||Eel River Bar||589||Oqpíkanjik|
|Elsipogtog First Nation||NB||Big Cove||3000+||Lsipuktuk|
|Eskasoni First Nation||NS||Eskasoni||3,800+||Wékistoqnik|
|Fort Folly First Nation||NB||Dorchester||105||Amlamkuk Kwesawék|
|Micmacs of Gesgapegiag||QC||Maria||1,174||Keskapekiaq|
|Nation Micmac de Gespeg||QC||Fontenelle||490||Kespék|
|Glooscap First Nation||NS||Hantsport||360||Pesikitk|
|Indian Island First Nation||NB||Indian Island||145||Lnui Menikuk|
|Lennox Island First Nation||PE||Lennox Island||700||Lnui Mnikuk|
|Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation||QC||Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation||3,166||Listikujk|
|Membertou First Nation||NS||Sydney||1,051||Maupeltuk|
|Metepenagiag Míkmaq Nation||NB||Red Bank||527||Metepnákiaq|
|Miawpukek First Nation||NL||Conne River||2,366||Miawpukwek|
|Millbrook First Nation||NS||Truro||1400||Wékopekwitk|
|Pabineau First Nation||NB||Pabineau||214||Kékwapskuk|
|Paq’tnkek First Nation||NS||Afton||1||Paqtnkek|
|Pictou Landing First Nation||NS||Trenton||547||Puksaqtéknékatik|
|Indian Brook First Nation||NS||Indian Brook (Shubenacadie)||2,120||Sipekníkatik|
|Wagmatcook First Nation||NS||Wagmatcook||623|| Waqm|
|Waycobah First Nation||NS||Whycocomagh||900||Wékoqmáq|