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ed with life in the latitude of Nova Scotia, to say nothing of the northern part of New Brunswick, will readily believe that a nomadic tribe, possessing only the implements of the stone age, and preyed upon by the many causes which tend to enfeeble or destroy human life, could never become very numerous within the limits indicated. In fact there seems good reason for believing that the tribe has never been much larger than it is at present. At times it would be reduced by war or famine, and would again increase during peace and plenty.
Unless there is some mysterious influence deadly to the red man in the vicinity of his white brother, who builds cities where he used to haul up his canoe, and scares away the game with his villanous vapor, his present circumstances are at least as favorable to long life as those of his ancestors three hundred years ago. It is true that his mode of living has been changed in some degree, but he does not appear to have suffered any very great loss in the change. Catching fish with wooden spears, and killing caribou with stone-headed arrows, must have been a much more uncertain way of procuring a dinner than a journey to a neighboring village or farm-house with a load of baskets. Pork is better than rabbits, and the wenjutēâmwā * of the pale face than soup made from the scraped hide of a moose, the Indian himself being judge.
Some allowance must be made for the destructive effects of the “ vices of civilization," but against the operation of these in modern times may be set the ancient passion for scalp-locks, common to all the tribes. With respect to one of these vices, the one which especially characterizes the continent, it may be maintained that the Micmac is not more drunken than the average American.
There seems, therefore, to be no very strong reason against a belief that the numbers of this tribe have been increasing rather than decreasing for many years. They cling to a belief in a golden age, when game was plenty and sickness unknown; but in their stories and legends, mingled with tales of wonder, we find the truer record of the existence of the enemies of man, — want, disease, war, and crime. Athletic, muscular men, and active, light-hearted women are to be met with everywhere among them.
Their shrewdness and ingenuity give sufficient foundation for the belief that their past history was one of gradual elevation, though they were hemmed within narrow boundaries by the conditions of existence, and their behavior in the presence of an alien civilization, achieved by toiling slow from grade to grade, is a study of great interest. In them hoar antiquity and patriarchal simplicity look out on the multiplied complexity of modern life as really as if Tubal Cain could pay a visit to Sheffield, or Job make a trial of le beau monde. We chide them, and wonder at them, because they cannot learn in a few years what we have gathered from the experience of many centuries. We might as well expect infancy to join in the vigorous sports of boyhood.
Concerning the early movements of this tribe, almost nothing is known. There is a belief among them that they came from the West, and they are still accustomed to speak of their home in the Southwest ; but this seems to be as much conjecture as tradition, for when questioning among themselves as to the manner in which they came to be inhabitants of this eastern part of the continent, they are naturally led to suppose that they emigrated from the West, as that is the only direction from which a journey by land would be possible.
One point seems well established. There was a time when the Micmacs inhabited the region formerly known by the name of Acadia, in connection with another tribe, called by them the Kwēdechk,* who were, according to tradition, the original inhabitants of the country. The two were soon involved in war, which lasted for many years, the contest presenting all the features common to Indian warfare, — spies, scouts, surprises, slaughter of men, women, and children, and torture of captives. Numerous stories are still told among them of the commencement, renewal, and close of the Kwedech war. As might be expected, these are tales of Micmac triumph. Whatever were the varying fortunes of the war, the Kwedechk were forced to move across the Restigouche River, and finally into some more remote part of Canada.
In the struggles which were made for the ownership of Acadia, the Indians frequently aided the French, and committed
* Kwedech, plural Kwedechk. It is not known what tribe this was.
terrible depredations on the English. It is their boast that, in their contest with the whites, they killed more men than they lost. All this contest has long ago ceased, and they now enjoy peaceably the privileges granted them by the provincial governments.
Their numbers, their language, and the power of old habits and associations have prevented them from changing rapidly ; and on entering their wigwams and mingling with them for a short time, one cannot help observing that the customs and ideas of their ancestors are still strong among them, despite Christianity and the vicinity of civilization. A few have abandoned the old mode of life, and dwell in houses, cultivating a small piece of ground. Others have learned trades. They make excellent mechanics, but generally evince a dislike to regular employment. The power of the all-conquering tongue is well exemplified in their case: most of them can speak English. An Indian woman said to me, “I often wonder why our children learn so many words of English, while English children don't know one word of Micmac.” I left her with her own explanation, which she would find more agreeable than ours would be. A few of them have received some English education, and it was from one of these I took my first lessons in the structure of the language, and the manners and customs of the people. From a gentleman * who has been many years among them as a missionary I have received additional information, and have had the pleasure of examining a number of their legends and stories, collected and translated by him.
From these we may learn much concerning the man, and the conditions of his life in the olden time. In these the savage himself comes before us, and tells the story of his aspirations and fears, his privations and pleasures, his notions of honor, and the highest good. The golden age was not then.
The dwelling of the Micmac was a lodge, or wigwam, built of poles, and covered with bark, or the skins of animals. He had vessels of stone and wood, barks and skins for containing water, knives made of caribou ribs, and needles of bone. His dress consisted of skins, which he seems to have been very skilful in dressing, — using, for that purpose, an instrument
* Rev. S. T. Rand.
made of the leg-bone of the moose. The
used in war and hunting were bows and arrows, the latter headed with a stone; spears, tomahawks, and knives made of stone or bone. In fishing, they used wooden spears, of a peculiar form. Weirs are occasionally mentioned, but they seem to have known nothing of fishing with nets or lines. Implements of stone, both chipped and polished, are said to have been dug up; all that I have seen were of chipped stone, and bore a striking resemblance to the relics of the stone age in the Old World. Among the implements of polished stone, chisels, gouges, and axes, or adzes, are enumerated, while spear-heads, arrow-heads, and knives of chipped stone are frequently found.
Particular places in the wigwam were assigned to the different members of the family, and this arrangement seems to have been invariable. The positions seem to have been first chosen for convenience. The fire occupied the middle of the lodge; on one side of this, and near the door, sat the wife, and, beside her, but farther from the entrance, her husband. So unvarying was this order, that, to place a maiden thus beside a young man, and tell her that this was her place, constituted marriage. On the other side of the fire sat the older members of the family or the children. And' visitors were invited up to the farther end of the wigwam, as a mark of courtesy. There were, besides, numerous small points of etiquette, always to be observed. The lordship of the father comes out very strongly. If a woman stepped across his bow or fish-spear, as it lay on the ground, he would consider it disgraced, and only fit to be burned.
The young people of different sexes were not allowed to mingle; and often a young man never spoke to the maiden who was to be his wife, and sometimes never saw her, until they came to be married. When one of them wanted a wife, he would suggest to his mother or grandmother to make an evening visit;* or, if he went into a strange place on such an errand, he must treat with the parents of the maiden. One cannot read their stories, without remarking the condition of woman among them. It is not so much a state of subjec
* Wellögumitoogwet, to make an evening visit, is equivalent in Micmac to going in search of a wife.
tion and hard labor that is noticeable, as the fact that she is a being of almost no moment. The young man starts on his perilous journey in search of a wife, because his mother has grown old, and can no longer take care of the wigwam; and he wants some one to dress the game he takes, and prepare it for the coming winter. Once, indeed, we meet with a young hunter, who, having killed a raven, was struck with the beautiful contrast of the three colors, as it lay bleeding on the snow, and vowed that, if he could find a maiden with a face as white as snow, cheeks as red as blood, and hair as black as a raven, he would marry her; but he soon forgets his resolve. The woman, it is true, comes to be of a slight importance during the wooing. “ The chief had a beautiful daughter," — so much of the story is devoted to her. After the wedding, she is lost. Occasionally, the mother appears as the ally of her little boy, who is just budding into a boo-õin, and requires her aid in making the moccasins necessary for his intended journey. So far as he is concerned, she has no share in his triumphs. He leaves her behind, perhaps to be killed by his enemies; but, killed or not, she is evidently forgotten.
Their ideas of hospitality were such as are often met with among savages. The stranger went into the first wigwam he came to, confident of a kind reception ; and when, in times of scarcity, it was known that one family had food, the neighbors would come in, without waiting for an invitation.
Their principal in-door amusement was the alteståkun, which was played with a sort of dice. Five pieces of bone of a hemispherical shape, and marked on the flat side, were put into a dish and shaken by the players in turn. Their out-door amusements consisted of races in canoes and on foot, dances, wrestling, and games of ball. “ Who are you?” said one runner to another as they started for a race round the world. “ I am Weggadusk” (Northern Light), said he," and who are you ?” “ I am Wasögwodésk” (Chain Lighting), was the modest reply. Their dances seem to have been a slow, measured step, and are spoken of as the common dance and the war dance,-n'skowwókun. Their musical instrument was a cheegumâkun, - a bark drum, which was beaten with a stick, and accompanied by the voice. Their vocal music may be divided