Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mi'kmaw Customs... Setting Broken Bones

Mi'kmaw Customs... Setting Broken Bones

There are so many interesting and unique facts about the early Mi'kmaq. Bernard Hoffman is by far the leading authority on the earlier customs. The custom of mending broken bones is interesting. Perhaps more interesting and unusual is how they treated a drowning. See the Hoffman thesis.

Public Domain file from wikepedia

Broken bones

“:...If the Indians break their Arms or Legs, the bones are reset evenly, & large pads of soft fine moss are made, which are saturated with their Turpentine, & wrapped around the broken limb; outside of that is placed a piece of Birch-bark, which readily conforms to the shape of the part; splints are not forgotten, and, to hold all this secure, they use long strips of thinner bark which make suitable bandages. The patient is then laid in this position on a bed of moss, & this method always succeeds very well.
If such an accident were to overtake an Indian when he was alone, he would fire his Musket to summon help; or, if he had arms, he would make smoke, the usual signal between them, one that never fails in time of need. A Wigwam is made at the place where the accident has occurred. This is the manner in which it is constructed. Fifteen or sixteen poles, more or less according to its size, are set up in a circle, two feet apart; they are a fathom or a fathom and a half in height, & their upper extremities are joined in a point, & fastened together; the Poles are covered with branches of fir, & large pieces of bark from the same tree, or from Birch, & sometimes with skins; a hole is left at the bottom that is only large enough to go in & out of, on all fours. Inside, a Pole traverses it at a height of four or five feet, & on it the Kettle is hung over a fire, which is kept low, & built in the centre of the rear part of the Wigwam. 
The Comrades of the injured Man go hunting, & care for him until he is once more able to walk as well as themselves...(Di√®reville, 1933, p.177).”
The Historical Ethnography of the Micmac of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries © Bernard Gilbert Hoffman. 1955


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.

Pat Cher

Mi'kmaq Song, a time travel story set in Mi'kmaq territory in 

the early 1600's. Awesome reviews.


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