Dinner Date- Membertou
Membertou (____, September 18th 1911)
Ever been asked the question... If you could dine with anyone in the world, present or past, who would it be be?
Granted there are many choices, and it would be very difficult to chose, but for me Membertou, the Mi'kmaw sagamore who lived in New France when Champlain first came upon our shores, would be my first choice.
Membertou was a sagamore (political leader), an autmoin (spiritual leader), an elder, a warrior, a wise man, a healer, and a monogamist when tradition was more permissive.
Membertou lived to be over a hundred years old. When nearly a hundred he organised, led and took part in a war with the Amourchiquois who had killed his friend, Panonias.
Membertou and his people lived in peace and as equals with the French who explored what is now, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Here are some of the words of historians who knew him....
"At Port Royal, the name of the Captain or Sagamore of the place is Membertou. He is at least a hundred years old and may in the course of nature live fifty years longer. He has under him a number of families whom he rules, not with so much authority as does our King over his subjects, but with sufficient powers to harangue, advise, and lead them to war, or to render justice to one who has a grievance, and like matters.
He does not impose taxes upon the people, but if there are any profits from the chase, he has a share of them, without being obliged to take part in it. It is true that they sometimes make him presents of beaver skins and other things, when he is occupied in curing the sick, or questioning his demon to have news of some future event or of the absent: for, as each village, or company of savages, has an Acutmoin, or Prophet, who performs this office, Membertou is the one who, from time immemorial, has practiced this art among his followers. He has done it so well that his reputation is far above that of all the other Sagamores of the country, he has since his youth been a great Chief, and has also exercised the offices of Soothsayer and Medicine Man, which are the three things most officious to the well-being of man, and necessary to human life."
"Membertou was already a man of great age, and saw Captain Jacques Cartier in that country in 1534, being already at that time a married man and the father of a family, though even now he does not look more than fifty years old"
Biard wrote that Membertou: "was the greatest, most renowned and most formidable savage within the memory of man; of splendid physique, taller and larger-limbed than is usual among them; bearded like a Frenchman, although scarcely any of the others have hair upon the chin; grave and reserved; feeling a proper sense of dignity for his position as commander."
Pierre Biard, Missionary 1911
Please check back often for wonderful facts re Mi'kmaq in
honour of Mi'kmaq History month, October. Posts will
continue until the end of October.
Mi'kmaq Song, a time travel story set in Mi'kmaq territory in
the early 1600's. Awesome reviews.