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Pre-contact–1867 (as a State)
1867–Current (as an unrecognized country)
Flag of Miꞌgmaꞌgi
Seven Districts of Miꞌkmaꞌki excluding Taqamkuk
Seven Districts of Miꞌkmaꞌki excluding Taqamkuk
StatusConfederated Districts of Wabanaki
CapitalMniku, Unamaꞌkik
Common languagesMiꞌkmawiꞌsimk
GovernmentSanteꞌ Mawioꞌmi / Miꞌkmawey Mawioꞌmi
Kji Sagamaw 
• unknown-1611
Henri Membertou
• 1792-1818
Francis Peck
• 1818-1842
Michael Tooma
• 1842-1869
Frank Tooma Jr.
• Established
• Contact with John Cabot[1]
• Exclusion from the Treaty of Utrecht
• First Treaty with Great Britain after the Anglo–Wabanaki War
• Indian Act, 1876
1867 (as a State)
1867–Current (as an unrecognized country)
• pre-1500
• 1500
• 1750
• 1900
• 2016
CurrencyWabanaki Wampum
Today part ofCanada

Miꞌkmaꞌki or Miꞌgmaꞌgi is composed of the traditional and current territories, or country, of the Miꞌkmaq people. It is shared by an inter-Nation forum among Miꞌkmaq First Nations and is divided into seven geographical and traditional districts. Today Taqamkuk is separately represented as an eighth district. Miꞌkmaꞌki is one of the confederate nations within the Wabanaki.

Each district was autonomous, headed by a Sagamaw. He would meet with Wampum readers and knowledge keepers called turkey keeper's, a women's council, and the Kji Sagamaw, or Grand Chief, to form the Santeꞌ' or Miꞌkmawey Mawioꞌmi (Grand Council).[2] The seat of the Santeꞌ Mawioꞌmi is at Mniku in Unamaꞌkik. It still functions as the capital today in the Potlotek reserve.

Following European contact, Miꞌkmaꞌki was colonized by the French and British in modern Nova Scotia, who made competing claims for the land. Siding with the French, the Miꞌkmaq fought alongside other Wabanaki warriors during the repeated wars between France and Britain in North America in the 17th and 18th centuries, between 1688-1763. These European powers divided Miꞌkmaꞌki in the treaties of Utrecht (1715) and Paris (1763). After the latter, when France ceded its territories east of the Mississippi River to Britain, the British claimed Miꞌkmaꞌki as their possession by conquest. The defeated Miꞌkmaq signed the Peace and Friendship Treaties to end hostilities and encourage cooperation between the Wabanaki nations and the British. They wanted to ensure the survival of the Miꞌkmaq people, whose numbers had dwindled to a few thousand from disease and starvation.

The power held within Miꞌkmaꞌki faded further after the Confederation of Canada in 1867 united the colonies, establishing four provinces. The Dominion of Canada passed the Indian Act in 1876, which resulted in the loss of autonomous governance among the First Nations. The Miꞌkmaq had said that they never conceded sovereignty of their traditional lands.[4] Some analysts have advanced legal arguments that the Peace and Friendship treaties legitimized the takeover of the land by Britain.

For more than 100 years, until 2020, the Santeꞌ Mawioꞌmi (or Grand Council) was limited to functioning solely as a spiritual and dialogue forum. The Mi'kmaq and other First Nations were required to elect representatives for their governments. In 2020, however, by agreement with the Government of Canada, the Grand Council was authorized to consult on behalf of the Miꞌkmaq First Nations and all First Nations in the province.


Miꞌkmaq camp in Unamaꞌkik (Cape Breton Island) in 1857

Traditionally each Mi'kmaw district had its own independent government. Those governments were composed of a chief and a council. The council included the band chiefs, elders, and other important leaders. The role of the councils was similar to those of any independent government and included the ability to make laws, establish a justice system, divide the common territory among the people for hunting and fishing, make war, and search for peace.

The overarching Grand Council Santeꞌ Mawioꞌmi was composed of the keptinaq (captains), or the district chiefs. The Grand Council also included elders, putus (historians reading the wampum belts), and a Council of women. The Grand Council was headed by a grand chief who was one of the district chiefs, generally the Unamaꞌkik chief. Succession was hereditary. The seat of the Grand Council was generally on Unamaꞌkik (Cape Breton Island).[5]


The eight districts are the following: (names are spelled in the Franci-Smith orthography, followed by the Listuguj orthography in parens):

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Miꞌkmaw Time Line". Cape Breton University. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b McMillan, Leslie Jane (December 1996). "Miꞌkmawey Mawioꞌmi: Changing Roles of the Miꞌkmaq Grand Council From the Early Seventeenth Century to the Present" (PDF). Dalhousie University: 219. Retrieved 26 September 2017. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Harold Franklin, McGee Jr (13 August 2008). "Miꞌkmaq". Historica Canadian. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  4. ^ Paul 2000, p. 160.
  5. ^ "Miꞌkmaq". Intercontinental Cry. Retrieved 2 December 2016..