Discovering Distant Relatives

Post by Vera Marie

Glooscap Statue--That tiny figure on the left is ME.

My sister and I are currently traveling in Canada--Nova Scotia to be exact–and have been learning about the Mi’kmaq people. (That name is pronounced Mee-maw. )What a surprise to learn that they are relatives of Quincy Tahoma’s own people, the Diné (Navajo).

Garrett, our guide at Glooscap Center

Garrett, our guide at Glooscap Center

We stopped at the Glooscap Heritage Center near Truro, Nova Scotia and were fortunate to meet Garrett, who is a trained archaeologist.  He is 100% Mi’kmaw and filled us in on a lot of information. But the Glooscap Center would be extremely educational for any visitor even if they did not have the good fortune to run into Garrett.

Your visit starts with a short film, partly in English and partly in the Mi’kmaw language. Each language has subtitles in the other, so you will never be at a loss to understand.  The main narrator is Glooscap, a spirit hero of the Mi’kmaw. He tells a little about their legends. Then others, including a woman who is an expert on the culture add other information.

I learned that archaeological evidence puts these people in the area at LEAST 10,000 years ago–much longer time than the Southwestern peoples have been in their territory.

Mikmaq Alphabet

Mikmaq Alphabet

Garrett explained to us later that there is a relationship between the Mi’kmaw and the woodland Indians of the Eastern U.S., but also to all other tribes that speak a variation of the Alqonquin language. That includes Diné.

Like the tribes of the Southwest with which I am familiar, the Mi’kmaw have developed some unique crafts. I never saw such beautiful basketry as I saw in their museum. The museum also displays contemporary painting, beadwork and quill work which is exquisite.

If your knowledge of Native peoples (which the Canadians call First Nations) is limited to those who live in your area, I urge you to look into the great variety–and maybe even discover common threads all around the Western Hemisphere.

Did you know that Navajo are related to Canadian tribes?

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4 Responses to Discovering Distant Relatives

  1. NoPotCooking says:

    I did know that most of these tribes have common ancestors, which is not surprising, given the path that migration took. We are heading to the SW on vacation and I am really looking forward to learning more about those Native communities, as well as their beautiful handcrafts.

  2. pen4hire says:

    (Vera) NoPot: I did not realize that either, partly because western archaeologists have always held that the western tribes (except Pueblo) came from Asia over the land bridge through the Bering Straits. But our Mi’kmaq guide was adamant that they all came up from central America. The mythology of each people of course, says they came up from the ground right where they are, and as Garrett explained their philosophical acceptance of wherever they are, it sounded vaguely like the Buddhist “Wherever you go, there you are.”

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