Delivered at the bi-annual Atlantic Canada Studies Conference, Fredericton, May 2014

Abstract: Everyday life for the Mi’kmaq changed significantly on the Tantramar marshes during the 1670s and 1680s. Over the twenty years between the arrival of the first permanent French settler in the region, Jacques Bourgeois, to the dawn of the second Anglo-Wabanaki War in the 1690s, this space was transformed. In 1670, the Tantramar was Mi’kmaw land, an important geography connecting peninsular Mi’kma’ki with the mainland; it was part of a region known to them as Sikniktewaq. In 1690, the area had become a French parish with a population of nearly one hundred and thirty people. This paper builds on my previous research on Mi’kmaw-Acadian social networks in Kespukwitk, near the French settlement of Port Royal, by examining the arrival of the French to the region around the isthmus of Chignecto. Using social network analysis to study the parish registers from this region, which include about 80 Mi’kmaq and 50 Acadians, this paper argues that specific relationships with the Mi’kmaq – developed while the settlers lived at Port Royal – structured their initial interaction around Chignecto at the end of the seventeenth century and, in the case of some families, these relationships continued at least until the 1720s. In building this argument, the paper also explores the interconnections between families (both Acadian and Mi’kmaq) living around Chignecto and Kespukwitk, examining the question of whether late-seventeenth century Acadian-Mi’kmaw relations were primarily local or regional in nature.

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