Page 22 - The Four Lives of the Micmac Copper Pot
ISSUE : Issue 24
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1979/12/1
all of November they concentrated on hunt? ing beaver and "elks" (caribou?). Tomcod and young turtles were harvested through? out December. Disregarding January for a moment, Biard designated February to mid- March as the principal season for the bea? ver, otter, moose, woodland caribou, and bear hunt. Beginning in mid-March, anadro- mous fish (first smelt, soon followed by herring) and northward-migrating wildfowl occupied their attention. And as the spring unfolded these were supplemented by sturgeon, salmon, and innumerable birds' eggs. The period from May to mid-September was the flush season: cod and other fish, along with shellfish and French trade goods (including food) provided a broad margin of security. Finally, as autumn ap? proached, everyone prepared to move into the interior once more.. . . It is the injection of French trade goods into this seasonal rhythm which especially interests us. Undoubtedly, one of the very earliest items bartered in the Atlantic coastal trade was the metal kettle. His? toric archaeological investigations at coastal and interior sites have revealed that until the early seventeenth century, brass kettles at least were routinely cut up and fashioned into body ornajiients or u- tilitarian objects; initially, it would seem coastal Algonkian tribes had little inclination to use them as cooking ves? sels. So, too, did the protohistoric Wa? banaki dispose of their copper pots. What? ever their earlier preferences, we know that by the beginning of the seventeenth century the Micmac were accustomed to boiling their food in their shiny French kettles. Acknowledged Lescarbot: "In the countries where they use tillage, as in that of the Armouchiquois, and farther and farther off, the men make earthen pots, in the shape of a nightcap, in which they seethe their meats, flesh, fish, beans, corn, squashes, etc. Our Souriquois (Mic? mac) formerly did the same, and tilled the ground; but since the French bring them kettles, beans, peas, biscuit, and other food, they are become slothful, and make no more account of those exercises." Archaeologists doubt Lescarbot's claim (and Le Clercq's intimation) that the pre? historic Micmac once farmed; there is nothing in the archaeological record which would suggest they did. The absence of milling tools is rather conspicuous. As for the ceramic pots referred to by Les? carbot, we have overwhelming evidence in the form of numerous sherds recovered from coastal and interior middens that Indians living here in prehistoric times were pot? tery-makers. The question is, who were these ceramicists and when did they ply their craft? Crowdis Conservers 4lP''if BOOKS * COOKING ACCESSORIES * WOOD STOVES * TILES * CLIVUS MULTRUM ~'i' ' W'W' i'' A ' ''M) M • ?...xc, • . gjobbijuje mmm mLj ENTERPRISES * "HEFTY" SANDWICHES ON HOMEMADE BREAD • ASSORTED CANADIAN AND IMPORTED CHEESES UNDER ONE ROOF! * DANISH SMOKED FISH * SMOKED MEATS EXOTIC BEVERAGES ' 'la * NATURAL GRAIN BAKERY ??' iif* WHOLE NATURAL FOODS * VITAMINSli _ BULK & PREPACKAGED * GOURMET CATERING' Located on the Trans Canada Highway 105 between Whycocomagh and Baddeck in Nyanza, 1 mile west of Cabot Trail turnoff. Mail: R.R.No. 3, Baddeck. Phone (902) 295-2275. CO-OP DO-IT- YCXJRSELF Home Improvement Centre # Compiato stocks of kimber, building supplies. Plumbing, HMting md Bactcical materials. m Component Homes & Cottages CO-OP Building Supplies S/ckriey R)rt HaiAtosbury 539-6410 625-2600 Qualified Dispensers Always in Attendance OWL DRUGSTORE D. I. MacDonald, Prop. Yonr Northside DOROTHY GRAY DISTRIBUTOR 'Convalescent and Sick Room Supplies Sales & Rental Drug Sundries and Cosmetics P.O.Box 125 79'-3611 North Sydney ALWAYS AT TODB 8EKVKX
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