Micmac - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Traditionally, the Micmac had two major deities, Khimintu (Manitou) the creator, and Glooscap, a legendary hero of supernatural power who taught and protected the Micmac; only the former was an object of worship. (Kji)Mintu became the term for the Christian devil when the Micmac converted to Catholicism, and Glooscap presently awaits to appear to the Micmac when they are most in need. Micmac religious belief is highly syncretic, and other non-Christian supernatural beings also live on in tandem with Christian belief. These include Kukwes, a giant cannibal, Wiklatmuj, little forest people, Jenu, northern ice giants, and the Kinap, a person of extraordinary or supernatural ability, among others.

Religious Practitioners. The literature records no priests. There were and are, however, male and female sorcerers who used supernatural power to their own advantage. The sorcerer, puoin, traditionally healed or injured, and a male puoin used his powers to make himself or other men leaders. Presently, sorcerers use their powers primarily to bring misfortune or injury to others.

Ceremonies. Presently, Roman Catholic ceremonies are most important. In addition to the common ceremonies, the Micmac celebrate the feast day of St. Ann, the Micmac patron saint, at several central locations throughout their Territory. During most of the last 350 years, when priests were Usually unavailable, funerals and weddings were held during the St. Ann's Mission, a celebration of several days ending with the St. Ann's Day Mass.

Arts. Historically, the material arts have been important, including the incision of designs in birchbark baskets, the dyeing and weaving of porcupine quills in birchbark, as well as the sewing of Micmac motifs on clothing, especially the characteristic double-curve motif. Presently, Indian music, some Micmac and some not, is making a resurgence. A few painters, employing Indian motifs, have had much commercial success.

Medicine. In aboriginal culture, disease was attributed to the influence of malevolent spirits, which were removed by a puoin by blowing or sucking, and using medicinal herbs. The puoin was well paid for his or her services. Today, Canadian clinical treatment and prayer are the first lines of defense, and traditional herbal medicines are used when clinical treatment fails. Abortion is not acceptable to the Micmac. Recently, Micmac-oriented drug and alcohol treatment has become available.

Death and Afterlife. Traditionally, the Micmac believed that all things have souls, and that human beings have two types of souls, one connected with the body and one that held the life of the individual. At death, both souls were affected, the body soul perishing and the life soul becoming a skate:kmuj, which traveled to the land of the souls. The souls of grave goods traveled with the human soul to assist it in the afterlife. Presently, the house of the deceased must be inhabited until burial in order to prevent the skate:kmuj from Returning to it, and Micmac believe that to see a skate:kmuj signals one's own impending death. Catholic beliefs now exist syncretistically with Micmac beliefs.

User Contributions:

Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 13, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
They were really connected with nature. They believed they were put on Earth, were equal with nature.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jun 17, 2013 @ 9:09 am
They also belived that everything should be respected and not "wasted" (e.g. if the killed an animal they would use every part of it[bones,fur,hide,meat etc.] and wouldn't let it rot)
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:12 pm
This article was very helpful, I learned a lot, thank you.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 15, 2015 @ 8:20 pm
This was so helpful for my project I learned a lot from this website I will go on next time I have a projecte
Lionel Kitpu'se
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 5, 2016 @ 4:16 pm
The article does contains some useful information however it should be pointed out that not all Mi'kmaq have embraced the Catholic faith in fact there are countless "Traditonal" Mi'kmaq living and breathing on this good earth and their prespectives on the same bullet point itmes are different. If you prefer to cookie cutter report then you should be happy with this article but if you seek to know more of a tradtional experience and truth then the article is mssing a lot of details. Ask an Elder.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 27, 2017 @ 2:02 am
Thank you Lionel. I'm here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and would love to know more. Happy to hear all you've said. I have a kaumatua (Maori elder) to whom I turn to understand more of the Maori world, and feel blessed for this. Where can someone is our country find out more of the living and breathing Mi'kmaq and their perspectives?
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 9, 2017 @ 11:11 am
Thank you! I had to do a project about tribes across America and this helped a lot.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 24, 2020 @ 1:13 pm
THANK YOU SOMUCH,this really helped with my project :)

MERCI BEAUCOUP, c'est vraiment aide avec ma projet :)

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: