Our journey begins here. In this section, we will discover more about our territory and our unique relationship to it from the earliest times. We will travel through a historic timeline of eighteenth-century treaties with the British Crown that prove we were a sovereign nation recognized and well-respected by British representatives of the day. Then, we will learn more about Mi’gmaq ways of gathering together and making decisions. Finally, we will learn more about the Gespe’gewa’gi communities and how they are prospering and serving our people today.
Below is a summary of each stop on our journey. Click on the title to get more details.
Our national territory is called Mi’gma’gi. We, the Mi’gmaq, have always lived on this land. Through our Creation Story
, we learn about how our territory was made, the original First Families, and the seven districts of our territory.
The seventh district, Gespe’gewa’gi,
includes northern and central New Brunswick, the Gaspé Peninsula, and parts of mainland Québec, as well as the islands and surrounding waters.
The word “Nm’tginen” means "our territory." Nm’tginen is also the name of our statement of claim
. In 2007, as part of our Gespe’gewa’gi claim, we deposited an official statement of claim to our territory with the Governments of Canada and Québec. In our statement of claim, which we entitled Nm’tginen
, we describe our Aboriginal and Treaty rights over the territory
Over thousands of years, we used, named, and occupied all the territory and waters of Gespe’gewa’gi – all the way from theMaqtugweg
(Gulf of Saint Lawrence) to the Mawi Poqtapeg
(Baie des Chaleurs), as well as the network of waterways in the interior of Gespe’gewa’gi.
Toboggans, birch bark canoes, and snowshoes are among the technologies developed by the Mi’gmaq. These tools allowed our ancestors to use the resources and travel all over our land.
Mi’gmaq ways of knowing are holistic, that is, viewed as a whole thing, not just in small unconnected parts. How we lived and used the land was based on our observations of the seasons, animals, plants, the waters, land, wind, and sky.
The Mi’gmaq had, and continue to have, a relationship with nature.
We have a special bond with maqamigal, sipu’l, nipugt, ugju’sn, and musigisg (meaning land, rivers, woods, wind, and the sky). From our understanding of the territory, we developed our social and political systems. Our teachings confirm that, over time, we organized ourselves around the seven districts of Mi’gma’gi. The Sante Mawiomi is the name of the Mi’gmaq governing body.
In the old times, the Mi’gmaq would gather in a mawiomi
at different times of the year to talk about resources, the land, and how to best live in Gespe’gewa’gi. The Sante Mawiomi, as well as extended family connections, helped to keep peace and harmony in and among the districts, with other nations, and with all parts of creation.
Long before the Europeans arrived in Mi’gma’gi, the Mi’gmaq made treaties with other nations. In Mi’gmaq, treaties are called angugamgewe’
l. This word means “adding on to our relations.”
Treaties can be thought of as a way to extend your family connections.
Also, in Mi’gmaq, Elders describe treaties like this: gisiagnutmatimgewe’l
. This word means, “What we have agreed to in the treaty process.”
Treaties with the British
When the Europeans arrived in Mi’gma’gi, they wanted to control the land, resources, and waters in Gespe’gewa’gi, and all over Mi’gma’gi. But, before they could live on the land, treaties had to be signed.
These treaties were agreements which said that the two nations – Mi’gmaq Nation and British – would respect one another and would live side by side on the territory. The treaties that were signed in the 1700’s are called "Peace and Friendship treaties." They were valid then, and they are still valid today.
Today, we still live on the territory of Gespe’gewa’gi. We have never left it, and we never gave our territory away. There are eight Mi’gmaq First Nation communities throughout Gespe’gewa’gi.
In 2000, the three Mi’gmaq First Nation communities that are located in Québec ~ Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg ~ signed a Political Accord. From this accord, the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi was formed
As part of its vision, the leadership of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi are working together to uphold and respect Aboriginal
and Treaty rights