Micmac - Orientation

Identification. The Micmac are a Canadian Indian group living in eastern Canada. The name "Micmac" is from the Micmac Mi:'maq, the plural form of Mi:k'mawaj, "one of high ability," a word derived from Mi"k'amwesu, the name of a legendary forest dweller with supernatural power.

Location. At the time of contact, the Micmac occupied what is now eastern New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. In historic times, the Micmac colonized Newfoundland. Presently, Micmac also migrate in significant numbers from their Canadian reserves to cities and towns in Ontario, Quebec, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey; they often spend years or decades in these places before returning to the reserves, often to retire.

Demography. In 1972, the number of registered Micmac was 9,805, with 1,943 in Quebec, 2,645 in New Brunswick, 4,769 in Nova Scotia, and 448 in Prince Edward Island. There is also a small number of Micmac in Newfoundland who have only recently been legally registered as Indians. Owing to natural increase, the Micmac population has been growing rapidly; by 1985, the Nova Scotia figure alone had reached 6,781.

Linguistic Affiliation. Micmac belongs to the Eastern Algonkian branch of the Algonkian division of the Algonkian-Ritwan family. The 3 major dialects are the Nova Scotia, the New Brunswick, and the Quebec.

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