This paper was originally presented at the Canadian Historical Association’s annual meeting at the University of Waterloo in May 2012.
Abstract: On the whole, the Mi’kmaw and Acadian people living in seventeenth and eighteenth century peninsular Mi’kma’ki (modern-day Nova Scotia) got along well. Historians such as John Mack Faragher and Naomi Griffiths have emphasized how the use of different resources and mutual political and economic interests helped to build bridges between these societies. Even historians who demonstrate the tensions that grew between these people as the European population increased, such as William C. Wicken, have also stressed the important legacy of an earlier positive relationship in continuing the connection between these communities. Much of this work, however, focuses on the Mi’kmaq and Acadians as cohesive units with little internal social, economic and political division. This paper uses a nominal census taken of the Mi’kmaq in 1708, the parish records from Port Royal, Minas and Beaubassin, alongside Stephen White’s genealogical work to look more specifically at Acadian-Mi’kmaw relations at the beginning of the eighteenth century. These sources illuminate Mi’kmaw reproduction in the areas around European settlement as well as family and social networks which linked these two societies. In taking this approach, the paper argues that the relationship between the Acadians and Mi’kmaq was stronger in some places than in others, and that for the most part this relationship was structured around the use of common resources and shared spaces. Rather than emphasizing the positive and negative aspects of this relationship, this paper illustrates its complexity. It shows that the Acadian-Mi’kmaw relationship was determined by local conditions that varied depending on geography, family history and economic activity.