THE MICMAC: HOW THEIR ANCESTORS LIVED FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO
Harold McGee and Ruth Holmes Whitehead.
Volume 11 Number 6.
All along the eastern shores of New Brunswick are intriguing coastal names such as "Buctouche" or big bay, "Shediac" or running far in and "Kou-chibouguac" or river of the long tide. These names are the faint evidence left us of a decimated race, the Micmac, who now barely number 10,000. The Micmac have long since left the coast and moved inland to reserves with poor soil and shrinking, logged-over forests.
Ruth Holmes Whitehead, curatorial assistant in history, at the Nova Scotia Museum and author of Micmac Quill-work* and Dr. Harold Franklin McGee, anthropologist at St Mary's University, Halifax, editor of The Native peoples of Atlantic Canada, have collaborated to produce a sympathetic and interesting study of the Micmac.
The Micmac is simply but effectively written. The authors explain in detail their environment, religion and philosophy, fishing, game and food, community and customs, etc., before the white man, and then the seemingly fatal choices and consequences once the Europeans moved in are all charted and explained. Each chapter has salient facts or summaries printed in heavy type in order to help the would-be scholar or researcher. Kathy R. Kaulbach, a graphic designer at the Nova-Scotia Museum, has beautifully illustrated this work. Every simple object such as a snowshoe or bow-loom rests on a textured background or quillwork or basket weave.
Whitehead and McGee do not try to interpret the Micmac world from the Indian viewpoint as has been done in the past, notably by Frederick J. Pratson in Land of the Four Directions, nor do they give way to the temptation to wallow in legends as so often happens when writers explore the Indian world. Rather, they objectively describe the history and lifestyle of the Micmac, and I suspect their book might be one of the few resources on the North American Indians that will be read from cover to cover. This is entirely due to the clear brief exposition and careful organization employed by the authors. A not-particularly-studious visiting adolescent voluntarily read this book one afternoon this summer. Praise can come no higher! Purchase is recommended for any school library whether or not the Indians of North America are part of the curriculum. *Reviewed vol. X/4 1982 p.256
Eve Williams, MacNaughton H. S., Monet on, NB.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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