From the verge of extinction to the survival of the Mi'kmaq
LE3 .A278 2009
Bachelor of Arts
The Mi‘kmaw First Nation is one of the original aboriginal Nations inhabiting what is now the Maritime Provinces of Canada. In this thesis I argue that during the time since contact to the present day, most ancient Mi‘kmaw traditions and customs have been altered, changed, misrepresented, and, in many cases, destroyed through a policy of cultural genocide. I explain the Mi‘kmaw worldview known as Netukulimk, exploring various aspects of this all-embracing philosophy of life. Drawing on postcolonial theory, I present a narrative of Mi‘kmaw experience with colonialism, focusing on the effects of colonial practice on religion, education, and the economy. I argue that the traditional concept of Netukulimk is present only implicitly in Mi‘kmaw culture, but it survives in many traditional practices such as in healing and spirituality. As a primary research method, I organized and participated in a sharing circle, which followed traditional Mi‘kmaw custom. The process of the circle and the results are described in the thesis. The thesis draws on autoethnography to discuss the difficulties I had reconciling my desire to understand my own culture through Netukulimk and put this understanding in terms of an academic thesis. The main contradictions were between my role as an insider and as an academic outsider, the use of a traditional sharing circle as a 'focus group', and ultimately between the oral culture of the Mi‘kmaq and the written, objective culture of sociology.
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