Mi’kmaq

by Trudy Sable and Julia Sable
Introduction by Franziska von Rosen

In 1985, I experienced my first dance to the beat of a powwow drum. I was in a Mi’kmaw home on the outskirts of Big Cove, the largest Mi’kmaw reserve in New Brunswick. I, a non-Native ethnomusicologist, had come to learn about Mi’kmaw music. At that time, many older people were not comfortable with the traditional teachings, dances and ceremonies Mi’kmaq young people were bringing back from out west. Like most Mi’kmaq, their families had raised them as devout Roman Catholics.

The powwow drum was not welcome on the reserve. Yet less than 10 years later, I saw young boys in the same community proudly displaying drum sticks in their back pockets. During recess they set up the drum in the schoolyard and chanted songs such as the Mi’kmaq Honour song. Other children encircled them and watched intently. Elders looked on with approval and pride. A new generation of Mi’kmaq were reclaiming their heritage.

All over Canada, the First Peoples have begun to reclaim their heritages after centuries during which the larger Canadian culture attempted to assimilate them. To learn about the Mi’kmaq and their wonderfully rich culture and their ability to adapt and renew traditions, feel free to explore this essay.  Look carefully and you will discover a wealth of links to interviews, photos, audio and video clips of dancers, drummers and the people who make their regalia.

This project was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through Canadian Culture Online
Native Dance