Indigenous people have rich and diverse histories on Turtle Island (North America) going back thousands of years. The timeline page outlines a small part of that history, focusing on elements of colonization and cultural genocide that have left Indigenous people vulnerable to abuse, including sexual violence. It also features some of the ways in which Indigenous people have resisted colonization, genocide, racism, and gendered violence.
Pre European contact, the Mi’kmaq or L’nu (meaning “the people”), had their own territories, governance structures, economies, laws and political systems. According to Mi’kmaw historian Daniel Paul, The Mi’kmaq were nomadic, following the food supply (fish, game, and fowl) based on the season, and did some farming. Mi’kmaw life was, and continues to be, intrinsically linked to the land.
The family unit, which consisted of extended family, was central to the social and political structure of Mi’kmaw communities. Men, women and Two Spirit people all made valued contributions.
Watch this short video of Elder Jane Meader to learn more about Mi’kmaq women’s role in the creation story and their culture and society as a whole.
Mi’kmaw people have lived throughout Mi’kmaki for over 10, 000 years. According to Mi’kmaw Elder Daniel Paul “the food supply was bountiful, dependable and extremely healthy, and materials needed to construct snug wigwams and make clothing suited to the changing seasons were readily available. They were not wanting.”
Pre European contact the Mi’kmaq had developed at culture founded on: “the supremacy of the Great Spirit, respect for Mother Earth, and People Power.” (Daniel Paul) The Mi’kmaq spoke, and many continue to speak, Mi’kmaw - a non-gender specific language.
The Mi’kmaq’s traditional territory included seven districts. Mi’kmaq people made decisions using a democratic, consensus based model. Elders were held in the highest regard and were involved in all major decisions.
- Image courtesy of the Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre.
Blue generations = generations since European contact.
Yellow generations = the generations [the current generation of children] can relate to directly in their families
“Indigenous peoples had systems that were complete unto themselves and met their needs. Those systems were dynamic; they changed over time and were capable of continued change.”
Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission