Page 21 - The Four Lives of the Micmac Copper Pot
ISSUE : Issue 24
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1979/12/1
summer, and early fall (June through Sep? tember), precisely the time when European fishing fleets were codfishing and whaling in coastal Atlantic waters. Fur trade his? torians have traditionally dated the be? ginning of the Atlantic coastal trade no earlier than 15OO or so, shortly after English, Norman, Basque, and Portuguese fishing fleets began making regular, annu? al runs to the Grand Banks. Records show that these fishermen were the first to barter with the coastal tribes and bands, presumably in the course of drying and salting their catch on the rocky shores and inlets of Labrador and eastern New? foundland. What was thus begun as a casual exchange of trinkets and other wares for a few pelts quickly became a booming indus? try in the early seventeenth century, fol? lowing a late sixteenth-century take-off in the European hatting business. On the basis of this somewhat contradicto? ry evidence it is difficult to imagine why twelfth-century Micmac Indians would have revised their settlement habits from win? ters spent clamming on the seacoast to winters spent hunting inland by invoking the commercial fur trade hypothesis. For there seems to be a discrepancy here of 300 years between the adoption of one and the inauguration of the other. Either our date is in error, and this shift happened several centuries later, in alignment with the earliest fur trade impulse, or there were indeed climatic or other reasons (perhaps Norse influences) responsible for this anomaly. Regardless of the exact date, it would make sense, of course, for early sixteenth-century ?4icraac band seg? ments or families--we are unclear which was the basic hunting group at this early contact date • to hunt beaver and other furbearers, caribou, and moose in the in? terior during the height of winter, for this is when their pelts and skins are in their prime. It was also the logical time for the snowshoed hunter to prey on the large herbivores rendered helpless by the deep March snows. In his Histoire de la Nouvelle-France, published in 1609, Marc Lescarbot con- firmed that the Micmac of his time were adhering to a seasonal migration cycle similar to that of their southern breth? ren, the Maine Wabanaki described by Bourque. Despite a brief residency in Aca? dia • barely over a year, from I6O0 to 1607 • Lescarbot proved to be a respectable ethnographer. The Micmac preferred to con? duct their hunting during the winter sea? son, he explained, "when the fish with? draw" from the coast • "feeling the cold," as he quaintly phrased it. There was no need for them to retire into the interior during the other three seasons as these fish, a dietary staple, were sufficient to their needs. Only in the winter did "the savages forsake the sea-shores and encamp in the woods, wherever they know that there is any prey.... In the countries where there are beavers, as throughout all the great river of Canada, and upon the coasts' of the ocean as far as the country of the Armouchiquois (New England Wabana? ki), they winter upon the shores of the lakes, to catch the said beavers." This final emphasis on the beaver was, of course, an oblique reference to the anim? al's worth in the fur trade. Pierre Biard, more explicit than Lescar? bot, described a similar seasonal pattern: winters spent inland and the remainder of the year passed at the coast. From mid- September into October, the Micmac mi? grated inland, above the tidal zone, to the "little rivers" where the eels were spawning. For the rest of the month and "' have your place in the sun Choose from hundreds of sun spots all over the world. We'll help you pick the best one for you. And American Express Travel Service has over 750 places around the world to take care of you while you're away. J.A.Young&Son; /J 181 Charlotte Street Sydney, N.S. 539-'800 For all your travel needs.. American Express Travel Service We're the all-around travel agent • with hundreds of American Express Company, subsidiary and Representative Travel Service offices to help you here and all around the world. And with an all-around package of i else can match: services no c • Book plane tickets • Arrange complete vacations • Sell, cash or refund American Express? Travelers Cheques • Offer complete business travel service • Help at destination • Reserve hotel space • Provide rental cars and limousines • Provide American Express pay-later plans (for American Express? Cardmembers) • A unique combination of travel financial services We want to be your travel agent. .0,' Young's Travel in Woolco -J5' Woolco Department Store ??Sm- Sydney River 562-5553 ' As% 1753.jpg
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