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New Brunswick First Nations
The First People of New Brunswick lived here for thousands of years and had their own Nations, confederations, religion, philosophy of social order, land use and justice.  Determining a population number during this early time is difficult because of their migratory lifestyle and the lack of permanent residences.  The important thing to note is that for many centuries before contact with Europeans, the Mi'gmaq and the Maliseet People had thoroughly explored and travelled over the area that later became New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Maine and Newfoundland and had a well-developed culture, religion, social behaviours, laws and customs.

The Mi'gmaq (Mi'kmawi'simk, Mi'kmaq, Míqmaq, Míkmaq, Mi'mkaq, Miiqmaq, Miikmaq, Mi'kmaw) First Nation call themselves 'Lnu or Nnu, meaning "the people", while the well-known Mi'gmaq name means "allies" and indicates a confederation of districts.  Mi'gma'gi, the territory of the Mi'gmaq First Nation, covers all of the Maritimes, as well as parts of Maine, Newfoundland and the Gaspé Peninsula and is divided into 8 distinct Districts each with its own independent government and territorial boundaries (1).  The Mi'gmaq language is Algonquin and related to their southern neighbours, the Maliseet, Passamaquoddy (Pestomuhkati ), Penobscot (Penawapskewi) and Abenaki First Nations.  These north-eastern nations are culturally and linguistically related and are collectively called the "Wabanaki", which means "People of the Daybreak", or "Dawn land People".

There is a Grand Council of Mi'gma'gi, consisting of the 8 District Chiefs, and a Grand Chief (2).  In 1860 another district in southern Newfoundland, Taqamkuk, was added for a total of eight modern day Mi'gma'gi Districts.  The Grand Council of the Mi'gmaq and the 8 Mi'gmaq Districts are political institutions that precede the creation of Canada.  Following is a description of the seven Mi'gmaq Chieftaincy Districts according to Pére Pacifique de Valigny (3), each with a hereditary chieftaincy, and the latest District, Tagamgoog.

  1. Epeggoitg (Epelwik, Epegoitg ag Pigtog), "lying in the water", and in the south Pigtog (Piwtuk) "where explosives are made" is the District spanning Prince Edward Island and Pictou County, Nova Scotia, respectively.  The 3 Mi'gmaq communities today within this District are: Abegweit First Nation, Lennox Island First Nation and Pictou Landing First Nation

  2. Esgigiag (Eskikewa'kik), "skin dressers territory", spans Halifax and Guysborough Counties of Nova Scotia.  The Mi'gmaq community today within this District is the Paq'tnkek (Afton) First Nation.

  3. Gespegiag (Kespek), "the last land", extends from the Miramichi River to the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, a land area that straddles the modern day Quebec/New Brunswick border, part of Maine and the Islands in the Baie des Chaleurs, as well as their surrounding coastal and marine areas.  Gespegiag spans Gloucester, Northumberland, and Restigouche Counties of New Brunswick and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec.  The Mi'gmaq communities today within this District are, in Quebec: Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg and 5 communities in New Brunswick: Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church), Metepenagiag (Red Bank), Ge'goapsgog (Eel River), Natoageneg (Eel Ground) and Oinpegitjoig (Pabineau).
  4. Gespogoitg   (Kespukwitk), "lands end", in Nova Scotia spans Annapolis, Digby, Queens, Shelburne and Yarmouth Counties.  The 2 Mi'gmaq communities today within this District are: Bear River First Nation and Acadia First Nation.

  5. Onamagig (Wunamakik), "foggy land", spans Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.  The 6 Mi'gmaq communities today within this District are: Eskasoni First Nation, Potlotek (Chapel Island) First Nation, Membertou First Nation, Wagmatcook First Nation and We'koqma'q (Waycobah) First Nation.

  6. Segepenegatig (Sipekne'katik), "ground nut place", spans Colchester, Hants, Lunenburg, and Kings Counties of Nova Scotia.  The 4 Mi'gmaq communities today within this District are: Annapolis Valley First Nation, Glooscap (Horton) First Nation, Shubenacadie First Nation, and Millbrook First Nation.

  7. Sigenitog (Signigtog, Siknikt), "drainage place", spans Cumberland County of Nova Scotia and Albert, Kent, Queens, Saint John, and Westmorland Counties of New Brunswick.  The 4 Mi'gmaq communities today within this District are the Fort Folly First Nation, Elno Minigo (Indian Island) First Nation, Bouctouche First Nation and Elsipogtog (Big Cove) First Nation.

  8. Tagamgoog (Gtagmatgog, Taqamkuk, Ktaqamkuk) - southern Newfoundland

The Maliseet or Wolastoqiyik are of the Saint John River valley and its tributaries, within New Brunswick, Quebec, and Maine with their territory extending along the Saint John River valley upward toward the St. Lawrence River and westward into what is now Aroostook County, Maine.  Generally known as the Maliseet or Malecite, their name for themselves is Wolastoqiyik derived from Wolastoq (commonly known as the Saint John River or River Saint John) on which their territory and existence are centered.  Wolastoq means "Beautiful River" and Wolastoqiyik means "People of the Beautiful River".  The term Maliseet is the name by which the Mi'gmaq people described the Wolastoqiyik to early Europeans.  Maliseet is a Mi'gmaq word meaning "broken talkers" or "lazy speakers".  The Wolastoqiyik and Mi'gmaq languages are closely related, but the name Maliseet reflects what the Mi'gmaq took to be a different version of their own language.  There are 6 modern day communities located along the Saint John River from Oromocto up to the Quebec border at Edmunston.  There communities are Oromocto, Saint Mary's, Kingsclear, Woodstock, Tobique and Madawaska Maliseet First Nations.

Together with the Abenaki, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot First Nations, the Mi'gmaq and Maliseet First Nations form the Wabanaki Confederacy covering the vast territory of the Maritimes, the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and New England.  From the early 1680's to the mid 1880's the Wabanaki Confederacy played a crucial role for First Nation rights in North America.  The Mi'gmaq, Maliseet, Abenaki, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot First Nations were all members at various times during this interval and developed a close cultural relationship.  Representing a sacred bond of Algonquian goodwill that arose out of necessity, these five First Nations shaped policies in reaction against or in accord with strategic movements by the French, English, Huron, Ottawa, Mohawk, Ojibwa and Iroquois.  The forms of government practiced by American First Nation societies, which had human rights and freedoms as cornerstones, have been attributed to changing the political fabric and social structure of the world (4).

The Wabanaki Confederacy continues to meet periodically today (5).

See also  Abbe-Museum


New Brunswick Mi'gmaq First Nation Communities

New Brunswick Maliseet First Nation Communities

Nova Scotia Mi'gmaq First NationCommunities

Quebec Mi'gmaq First NationCommunities

Prince Edward Island Mi'gmaq First NationCommunities

Maine First Nation Communities

Newfoundland First Nation Communities

  1. Governing_a_Nation
  2. Migmaq_Grand_Council
  3. Micmac_Chieftancy_Districts
  4. Discovery_Channel-America's_First_Nations
  5. Keptin_Stephen_Augustine