Daniel N. Paul
Daniel N. Paul, CM ONS, (born 1938) is a Mi'kmaq Elder, author, columnist, and human rights activist. Paul is perhaps best known as the author of the book We Were Not the Savages. Paul asserts that this book is the first such history ever written by a First Nation citizen. The book is seen as an important contribution to the North American Indian movement. One writer stated, "It’s a Canadian version of Dee Brown’s best seller Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and, as such, served a valuable purpose in raising public consciousness about Mi’kmaq history, identity, and culture."
Among his many awards, Paul has been conferred with the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia. He received from Université Sainte-Anne an honorary Doctor of Letters Degree. His brother Lawrence Paul is the former long-serving chief of Millbrook First Nation (1984-2012).
Prior to Paul’s birth, his parents Sarah Agnes and William Gabriel were re-located from Saint John, New Brunswick to Indian Brook, Nova Scotia. Paul was born at Indian Brook; the eleventh of fourteen children. During his childhood he earned money through selling the Star Weekly, Liberty Magazine, seeds, greeting cards, and painted the interior of houses. At age 14, he left home for Boston. Eventually returning to Nova Scotia, he married twice and had three children.
In 1971 he began work for the Department of Indian Affairs, and from 1981 to 1986 was the Department's Nova Scotia District Superintendent of Lands, Revenues, Trusts, and Statutory Requirements.
A community activist, he was the founding Executive Director of the Confederacy of Mainland Micmacs (CMM) from 1986 to 1994, and while in this position, initiated fundraising for a new community centre for the Indian Brook Reserve. During his tenure at CMM, Paul also started a trust fund for the Confederacy, which would support financing legal issues for the six Bands associated with the organization. His leadership helped resolve the Afton Band's 170-year-old treaty claim to old Summerside property. In addition, he worked to resolve land claims for the Pictou Landing Band. He has also served on Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, and on the Nova Scotia Department of Justice's Court Restructuring Task Force, among other provincial commissions, as a Justice of the Peace for the Province. He has also written bi-weekly op-eds for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald newspaper.
On January 14, 2000, he received a millennium award from the city of Halifax for his contributions. In 2001, Paul was involved with a CBC documentary entitled "Growing Up Native", and in Bear Paw Productions' (Eastern Tide’s) "Expulsion and the Bounty Hunter”.
Paul has written numerous articles in both newspapers and academic journals. His most well known work is We Were Not the Savages, which is now in its 3rd edition. Paul is critical of colonial historical accounts of the Mi’kmaq people:
- "Because of their belief that European civilizations were superior, and therefore all others were inferior or savage, these writers reported the superior human rights practices of Amerindian civilization as if they were abnormal. Later, using these biased records as gospel, many White authors have written works about Mi'kmaq civilization that do not present a true picture. Their efforts were probably taken with sincerity and honesty, but many, if not all, are lacking in two respects: they ignore the Mi'kmaq perspective on civilization and fail to appreciate that the values of the two cultures were in most cases completely opposite... More contemporary authors who have written about Amerindian civilizations have also used European standards to evaluate the relative merits of these cultures. Thus their efforts are flawed."
Post-colonial historian Geoffrey Plank writes:
- "We Were Not the Savages is unique, in chronological scope and the story it tells, covering the last three centuries of Mi'kmaq history in detail. Prior to the appearance of this book [in 1993] it was common for historians to downplay or even deny the violence inflicted on the Mi'kmaq people by European and Euro-American colonizers. This work, more than any other piece of scholarly production, has headed off that consensus at a pass. Scalp-bounty prices are now recognized as a historical problem worthy of investigation. Finally, it is important to recognize that we have far too few histories written by Native American authors - very few indeed that cover as extensive a time span as this book does."
Many post-colonial historians, such as Thomas Naylor, applaud Paul’s efforts to render visible the harms the British conducted toward the Mi’kmaq people. Naylor writes:
- "Daniel N. Paul's We Were Not the Savages is a brilliant and painful account of how the Mi'kmaqs were treated by the Europeans. When will Canada and the United States begin paying reparations to Mi'kmaqs and other Tribes for what we did to them over the centuries? Daniel Paul makes a convincing case that the time is now! It is a fact-filled read that will make North Americans of European descent very uncomfortable. I highly recommend it."
Paul’s assertions in his publications have caused controversy with numerous scholars of colonial history. Along with Paul, most contemporary scholars of the colonial period in Nova Scotia document the illegal means in which local British authorities confiscated native land. The work of these scholars has been used to address issues of legal reparation. There is also agreement that the British engaged in a long history of frontier warfare against aboriginal families in North America, including the Mi'kmaq people. Paul's work has been helpful in highlighting the history of the British bounty proclamations against aboriginal families. In We Were Not the Savages, Paul outlines the history of the New England and Nova Scotia governors' use of scalping proclamations against the Mi'kmaq. He specifically quotes Massachusetts Governor William Shirley's scalping proclamation of 1744, that of Governor Cornwallis in 1749, and that of Nova Scotia Governor Charles Lawrence in 1756. He also states that there is evidence some Mi'kmaq had even been targeted as early as in the Governor of Massachusetts' scalping proclamation of 1694.
All agree that the British authorities ordered the use of colonial warfare practices which involved killing Mi'kmaq for scalp-bounties. In contrast to these scholars, however, Paul asserts that the Mi'kmaq leaders did not employ such tactics against British families in defense of their homeland. He states that the renegade Mi’kmaq who did participate in such "crimes" were "mercenaries acting beyond the authority of their leaders", who were doing "dirty work for the French". Paul asserts the people who acted "savagely" were primarily those of European descent - not the Mi'kmaq.
Historians Geoffrey Plank and Stephen Patterson, however, offer evidence that indicates some of the Mi’kmaq leadership did support frontier warfare against Protestant families, such as Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope. Further, Cornwallis' decision to put a bounty on the Mi'kmaq was not based simply on the Raid on Dartmouth (1749) that immediately preceded it. Historian John G. Reid's work indicates that by the time Edward Cornwallis had arrived in Halifax (1749), there was a long history of the Wabanaki Confederacy (which included the Mi'kmaq) killing British civilians along the New England/ Acadia border in Maine furing conflict (See the Northeast Coast Campaigns 1688, 1703, 1723, 1724, 1745). Grenier indicates that frontier warfare against families was the standard practice by all parties through the six colonial wars which started in 1688 (see the four French and Indian Wars, Father Rale's War, and Father Le Loutre's War).
Along with challenging Paul's assertion that the Mi'kmaq leadership did not use the standard warfare practice of the period, historians have also disagreed with Paul labelling the British use of colonial warfare as "genocide". Post-colonial historian John G. Reid states, “I believe (genocide) is essentially a 20th century term, and I’m not sure that it’s the best way to understand 18th century realities... What happened in the 18th century is a process of imperial expansion that was ruthless at times, that cost lives…. But to my mind, you can’t just transfer concepts between centuries.” Kyle Matthews, the lead researcher at the Montreal Institute For Genocide and Human Rights Studies states "The word ‘genocide’ is today used by anybody, at any time — some people use it to get media attention or to support a cause,” he said. “I think that’s a real problem.” 
In response to these challenges to his work, Paul writes that most objections to his work “come from Caucasians, probably of British ancestry. It's understandable they try to minimize the horrors their ancestors committed." Paul also asserts that his work is largely responsible for British colonial figures’ names being removed from landmarks because they used frontier warfare against Mi'kmaq families. In We Were Not..., he mentions his participation in a successful 1998 campaign to change the name of a Nova Scotia Highway that had been named after New England Ranger John Gorham. Paul's efforts have also led to the removal of the name "Cornwallis" from a junior high in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has also advocated for the removal of the Edward Cornwallis Statue in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
We Were Not the Savages
In Paul's book, he addresses numerous issues. One of these is the validity of the Treaty of 1752 and the importance of Jean-Baptiste Cope in Maritime history.
Treaty of 1752
Paul celebrates Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope for negotiating the November 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty with the British, "in a desperate attempt to prevent the complete annihilation of his people". According to historian William Wicken the only written evidence is Cope signed the Treaty on behalf of ninety Mi’kmaq at Shubenacadie. Further, these historians suggest no other Mi’kmaq leaders would endorse the treaty and that Cope himself destroyed it six months after it was ratified. The British did not formally renounce the Treaty until 1756.
Despite the short-term fate of the 1752 Peace Treaty with hostilities continuing soon afterward, some Nova Scotians continue to celebrate the signing of it annually on Treaty Day. As Paul also notes, in 1985, the Supreme Court of Canada finally affirmed and recognized its validity (See R v. Simon). In this case, the Crown Prosecutors argued that Cope had violated the treaty, which, in turn, made it null and void. Paul asserts, in contrast, that it was the British who violated the treaty - not the Mi'kmaq. In his book, Paul cites in extenso a journal entered under oath by eyewitness Anthony Casteel regarding a resumption of hostilities the following spring, and concludes by noting
- "In the 1980s, descendants of the British colonials [i.e., the Crown] attempted to nullify the Treaty of 1752 in the courts by claiming that Chief Jean Baptist Cope had violated the terms of the treaty during the Casteel incident. But they conveniently overlooked the facts that the English, by their refusal to prosecute two murderers [involved in the Attack at Mocodome], were in clear violation of the treaty, and that Chief Cope had had very little involvement in the [Casteel] affair."
- Canadian Who's Who - Paul was entered in the publication in 2004
- American Indian History
- Paul Bennett. How solid is the case against Cornwallis? Chronicle Herald. 29 June 2011
- -- We Were Not The Savages, p. 15.
- -- We Were Not The Savages, back cover endorsement.
- For Historian John Grenier's response see National Post, July 5, 2011 "300 Year feud plays out in Halifax". For Historian John Reid's response see CBC - Historian's Mi'kmaq genocide claims challenged - 14 September 2011
- See William Wickens, Andrea Bear Nicholas and John Ried as well as Plank and Grenier.
- We Were Not the Savages, p. 102-3, 110, 146, 182.
- We Were Not the Savages, p. 71.
- Globe and Mail. 24 Jun 2011 – Halifax junior high strips Cornwallis of his rank
- Cornwallis’s deeds: no excuse for barbarism in any age | The Chronicle Herald
- In keeping with this position, for example, Paul dismisses the British account of the Raid on Dartmouth (1749). Cornwallis reported that Mi'kmaq killed six unarmed British woodcutters in Dartmouth, after which Cornwallis set a bounty on the Mi'kmaq people. Paul asserts the Mi'kmaq would not have killed unarmed civilians and that the British woodcutters were likely armed better than the Mi'kmaq that killed them and, therefore, Cornwallis' bounty was unjustified. (See Daniel N. Paul, We Were Not the Savages 2000 ed., p. 111-112).
- Patterson, Stephen E. 1744-1763: Colonial Wars and Aboriginal Peoples. In Phillip Buckner and John Reid (eds.) The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1994. p. 148
- John G. Reid. “Amerindian Power in the Early Modern Northeast: A Reappraisal.” William and Mary Quarterly , 3rd series, 61 (2004), 77-106. Co-authored with Emerson W. Baker. Recipient of Harryman Dorsey Award (Society of Colonial Wars in the District of Columbia).
- See National Post, July 5, 2011 "300 Year feud plays out in Halifax"
- Historian's Mi'kmaq genocide claim challenged. CBC news. 14 September 2011
- European settlers sought ‘genocide’ on Mi’kmaq: historian by Kathryn Blaze Carlson National Post. Sep 16, 2011
- American Indian History
- Also see The John Gorham Controversy
- We Were Not the Savages p. 121; see also
- William Wicken. Mi'kmaq Treaties on Trial: History, Land, and Donald Marshall Jr. University of Toronto Press. 2002. p. 184
- Plank, 2001, p.137
- Plank, 1996, p.33-34
- We Were Not the Savages p. 122.
- We Were Not the Savages, pp. 125-138.
- John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. Oklahoma University Press. 2008
- John Grenier. The first way of war: American war making on the frontier, 1607-1814 Cambridge University Press. 2005
- Geoffrey Plank, “The Two Majors Cope: the boundaries of Nationality in Mid-18th Century Nova Scotia”, Acadiensis, XXV, 2 (Spring 1996), pp. 18–40.
- Geoffrey Plank. An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign Against the Peoples of Acadia. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2001
- Geoffrey Plank. "New England Soldiers in the Saint John River Valley: 1758-1760" in New England and the Maritime provinces: connections and comparisons By Stephen Hornsby, John G. Reid. McGill-Queen's University Press. 2005. pp. 59–73
- Patterson, Stephen E. 1744-1763: Colonial Wars and Aboriginal Peoples. In Phillip Buckner and John Reid (eds.) The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1994.
- William Wicken. Mi'kmaq Treaties on Trial: History, Land, and Donald Marshall Jr. University of Toronto Press. 2002.
- Andra Bear Nicholas. Settler Imperialism and the Dispossession of the Maliseet, 1758-1765. John Reid and Donald Savoie. (eds). Shaping An Agenda for Atlantic Canada. Fernwood Press. 2011
- John G. Reid. Empire, the Maritime Colonies, and the Supplanting of Mi'kma'ki/ Wulstukwick, 1780–1820, Acadiensis 38: 2 (Summer/ Autumn 2009), 78-97.