Maliseet - History and Cultural Relations



There has been much intermarriage between the Maliseet and the neighboring Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot and, since the early historical period, the French in Maliseet communities in northern New Brunswick and Quebec as well. Elsewhere Maliseet intermarriage with neighboring English-speaking persons has continued since the 1830s. Since White contact, relations among the Maliseet and their Algonkian-speaking neighbors have generally been peaceful. The Mohawk were their traditional enemies. Contact with Europeans dates to at least the mid-sixteenth century, with more or less continuous contact with the French since the seventeenth century. The Maliseet allied with the French against the British, although in the revolutionary war they sided with the British. Because of this support, the Maliseet were granted the first reserve established in Atlantic Canada. With the arrival in New Brunswick of Loyalists from New England and the Mid-Atlantic states in 1783, the Maliseet were displaced from several areas of traditional settlement along the St. John River. Encroachment on other lands by later White settlers led to further problems of access to traditional hunting territories.

When reserves were established, most were too small to accommodate the full range of traditional economic pursuits and the Maliseet were forced into the White economic world, becoming more and more dependent upon income from wage labor and the tourist trade and White products. Today the Maliseet live on six reserves along the St. John River in New Brunswick and off reserve at numerous places in Maine, Quebec, and New Brunswick.

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