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Page 27 - European Impact on the Micmac Culture

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1982/6/1 (336 reads)

In order to understand the role of the Mic? mac in the fur trading enterprise of the colonial period, it is useful to investi? gate the role of the Micmac hunter in the spiritual world of precontact times. Hunt? ing was governed by spiritual rules and considerations which were manifest to the early French observers in the form of seem? ingly innumerable taboos. These taboos con? noted a sense of cautious reverence for a conscious fellow-member of the same ecosys? tem who, in the view of the Indian, al? lowed itself to be taken for food and clothing. The Indian felt that "both he and his victim understood the roles which they played in the hunt; the animal was re? signed to its fate." That such a resignation on the part of the game was not to be interpreted as an un? limited license to kill should be evident from an examination of some of the more prominent taboos. Beaver, for example, were greatly admired by the Micmac for their industry and "abounding genius"; for them, the beaver had "sense" and formed a "separate nation." Hence there were vari? ous regulations associated with the dispos? al of their remains: trapped beaver were drawn in public and made into soup, ex? treme care being taken to prevent the soup from spilling into the fire; beaver bones were carefully preserved, never being giv? en to the dogs--lest they lose their sense of smell for the animal--or thrown into the fire--lest misfortune come upon "all the nation"--or thrown into rivers--"be- cause the Indians fear lest the spirit of the bones...would promptly carry the news to the other beavers, which would desert the country in order to escape the same misfortune." Likewise, menstruating women were forbidden to eat beaver, "for the In? dians are convinced, they say, that the beaver, which has sense, would no longer allow itself to be taken by the Indians if it had been eaten by their unclean daugh? ters." The fetus of the beaver, as well as that of the bear, moose, otter, and porcu? pine, was reserved for the old men, since it was believed that a youth who ate such food would experience intense foot pains while hunting. Taboos similarly governed the disposal of the remains of the moose--what few there were. The bones of a moose fawn (and of the marten) were never given to the dogs nor were they burned, "for they (the Mic? mac) would not be able any longer to cap? ture any of these animals in hunting if the spirits of the martens and of the fawns of the moose were to inform their own kind of the bad treatment they had re? ceived among the Indians." Fear of such re? prisal also prohibited menstruating women from drinking out of the common kettles or bark dishes. Such regulations imply cau? tious respect for the animal hunted. The moose not only provided food and clothing, but was firmly tied up with the Micmac spirit-world--as were the other game ani? mals . CONTINUED ON THE NEXT PAGE Ingrahams United Ltd. 213 Conmercial St., North Sydney, N. S. B2A 1B5 Telephone 794-4536 GENERAL DEALERS Clothing for the Whole Family Country Crafts Giftshop Handknit Sweaters * Purses * Mitts * Socks * Hats Quilts * Icelandic & Cape Breton Wool * Other Handcrafts R. R. 2, Dingwall, N. S. BOC IGO Phone (902) 383-2933 On the Cabot Trail SOUTH HARBOUR in Victoria County Counselling Assistance to Small Enterprises IF I KNEW WHERE MY PROBLEM WAS I WOULDN'T HAVE A PROBLEM' It's a common complaint coming from small business owners and managers, but tielp is at hand with CASE * For a modest fee a CASE counsellor can visit your business and wort< with you, department by depart? ment, until the problem is identified and corrective action is recommended. Our counsellors are well seasoned business people selected for their adrriinistration talents and manage? ment experience. Whether you have trouble in areas such as book? keeping, inventory control, sales promotion, personnel or financial know-how, CASE covers all aspects of management counselling. Why not put CASE on your case today! For more information call: D. J. MacDonald, CASE Co-ordinator, Federal Business 48-50 Dorchester St. Development Bank gy'ney. Nova Scotia Phone 539-6910 }k on Trans-Canada Hwy. 5 miles west of Baddeck • Swimming Pool - Hot Showers • Laundromat - Camper's Store • Supervised Children's Program • Full Hook-ups - Canoeing 295-2288 BADDECK - CABOT TRAIL KAMPGROUND Sydney Party Rentals Your Party Supply Centre Weddings - Banquets - Parties Anniversaries - Conventions We cater meals for all types of gatherings and receptions. 106 Townsend Street Sydney, Nova Scotia 562-4688 Tuxedo Rentals Catalogues Available (27
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