The Mi'kmaq are an indigenous people of eastern Canada and northern Maine, US, which are variously spelled Míkmaq, Micmac, Mikmak, Mi'gmak, or Mikmaq. Their original term for themselves was Lnu'k (or L'nu'k), the people. "Mi'kmaq" comes from a word in their own language meaning "my friends"; it is used both internally and externally now, though Mi'kmaq people fluent in their native language will often use the more grammatically correct "Mi'kmaw" as an adjective. Famed for their porcupine-quill art, they were sometimes also known as the Porcupine Indians.
The Mi'kmaq were kinfolk and traditional allies of the Abenaki, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet Indians, with whom they formed the historic Wabanaki Confederacy of New England and the Maritimes. The traditional Mi'kmaq territory is concentrated in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but they also had a presence in parts of Quebec, Newfoundland, and Maine. There are about 25,000 Mi'kmaq Indians today, most of whom still live on their traditional lands today.
Though many of Mi'kmaq heritage in the United States and Canada are not enrolled in organized communities, the Mi'kmaq First Nations are:
Abegweit First Nation (PE)
Annapolis Valley (NS)
Aroostook Band of Micmac (Maine)
Bear River First Nation (NS)
Buctouche First Nation (NB)
Burnt Church First Nation (NB)
Chapel Island First Nation (NS)
Eel Ground First Nation (NB)
Eel River Bar First Nation (NB)
Elsipogtog First Nation (NB)
Eskasoni First Nation (NS)
Fort Folly First Nation (NB)
Micmacs of Gesgapegiag (QC)
Nation Micmac de Gespeg (QC)
Glooscap First Nation (NS)
Indian Island First Nation (NB)
Lennox Island First Nation (PE)
Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation (QC)
Membertou First Nation (NS)
Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation (NB)
Miawpukek First Nation (NL)
Millbrook First Nation (NS)
Pabineau First Nation (NB)
Paq’tnkek First Nation (NS)
Pictou Landing First Nation (NS)
Indian Brook First Nation
Wagmatcook First Nation (NS), and
Waycobah First Nation (NS).
In allying with the French, the Mi'kmaq tribe did not successfully pick the winning side in the European fight over Nova Scotia; they did, however, pick pretty good friends. Not only didn't the French harass or massacre the Mi'kmaqs, they kept their own settlements to the coast and didn't infringe on Mi'kmaq hunting grounds much. For their part, the Mikmaq people were staunch allies of the French in good times and bad, and had their ranks not been devastated by smallpox and other European diseases (Mi'kmaq losses are estimated at around 15,000, from an original population of 20,000) the history of Nova Scotia might have been written very differently. As it was, the English, helped by the Mohawk and other Iroquoians, did eventually defeat and deport the French, but the Mi'kmaq tribe remains in the Maritimes to this day.
The Mi'kmaq language, Mi'kmawi'simk or Mikmawisimk, is an Algonquian language spoken by 8000 Indians in the Canadian Maritimes (particularly Nova Scotia) and a few US communities. The Mi'kmaq dialect spoken in Quebec is called Restigouche (or Listuguj) and can be hard for other native speakers to understand. Mi'kmaq is written alphabetically today, but in the past it was written in pictographs. Though these pictographs were modified by Jesuit missionaries, who used them to help Mi'kmaq converts remember Christian prayers, they probably predated European contact. Micmac hieroglyphics do not resemble Ancient Egyptian or Mayan hieroglyphs; see here for an explanation of these different writing systems. Mi'kmaq is not linguistically related to Ancient Egyptian or any other semitic languages, this data was faked.
The Mi'kmaq language is entirely native to the New World and is related to other major North American Indian languages like Lenape, Ojibwe, and Cree. Although Mi'kmaq is one of the healthier American Indian languages, the number of children learning the language has been in decline since the '70's.
Mi'kmaq educators are working to reverse this trend before they find their language, like so many others, on the brink of extinction.
SOURCE:This article first appeared at www.native-languages.org, one of the best online resources for Native Languages of the Americas.