Eustis Estate

Portrait of a Mi’kmaw

Isaac Sprague

The Mi’kmaq have occupied the area from the Gaspé and eastern Maritimes to Northern Maine for more than 10,000 years. Traditionally nomadic, they caught fish and gathered shellfish along the coast in the summer and hunted and trapped game inland in the winter. The canoe, made of spruce tree roots and birchbark, was integral to the Mik’maq way of life; used in salt water and fresh, it enabled travel and fishing in coastal areas, rivers, and lakes.

Beginning with novelists like James Fennimore Cooper and painters like Alvan Fisher, artists and writers have romanticized the fate of the region’s native population, creating an image of a vanishing people. But it’s important to recognize that the region’s native peoples never vanished. The Mik’maq, for instance, continue to occupy areas of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, with smaller numbers in Quebec, Newfoundland, Maine, and the Boston area.

Native Americans Crossing a Frozen Lake, Alvan Fisher (1792-1863), Boston and poss. Crawford Notch, New Hampshire, 1845, Courtesy Vose Galleries