Episodic Survey of the History of the Constellations
The illustrations on this page have been compiled from a variety of sources. They are reproduced in accord with 'fair use' provisions unless copyright is otherwise noted. If advised that copyright has been infringed I will immediately remove the particular illustration(s).
Return To Section Index Page
B: Palaeolithic Siberian-North American Constellations
2: Ice-age bear constellation?
The drawing the astronomer Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687) made of Ursa Major for his great celestial atlas Uranographica which was published in 1690. The constellation is drawn as if being viewed from outside the celestial sphere. The issue of its pre-contact antiquity is somewhat vexing. There are suitable reasons for believing its existence is post-contact.
The three most obvious groupings of stars in the northern sky are (1) the Dipper, (2) Orion, and (3) the Pleiades. (Readily apparent star patterns liable to grouping as constellations by any culture include (1) the Pleiades, (2) the Hyades, (3) the Big Dipper (in Ursa Major), (4) Orion, (5) Orion's Belt, (6) the Northern Cross (in Cygnus), (7) Cassiopeia, (8) Castor and Pollux, and (9) the Southern Cross.) The ethnographic evidence indicates that the Big Dipper asterism that presently forms part of our modern Ursa Major constellation was anciently identified as a bear constellation throughout many parts of the world.
There is perhaps archaeological evidence that the Big Dipper stars were anciently recognised as a constellation. In her 1954 article on "Astronomy in Primitive Religion." (The Journal of Bible and Religion, Volume 22, Number 3, July, Pages 163-171) the noted astronomer Maud Makemson reproduced a drawing of what she also believed was a representation of stars in Ursa Major and Boötes incised on a fossilised and silicified sea-urchin (Echinus), on an amulet from stone-age northern Europe. The drawing used by Makemson was likely taken from a detailed article ("Luminosities, Colors, Diameters, Densities, Masses of Stars.") relating to the history of stellar astronomy by the Swedish astronomer Knut Lundmark (who had migrated to the USA but after a few years returned to Sweden). Lundmark's article appeared in Handbuch der Astrophysik, Volume 5, Part 1, Chapter 4, 1932, Pages 209-697 (Appendices to Chapter 4 in Volume 5, Part 2, Pages 1077-11501). On page 221 there are 2 figures of the amulet (figure 5 and figure 6). Makemson has reproduced figure 5 as figure a and also adopted Lundmark's discussion of the amulet. Marcel Baudouin also thought he had identified the constellation Ursa Major on a number of palaeolithic bones and rocks (as well as the amulet). Makemson is apparently relying ultimately on the work of the pioneer French archaeoastronomer Marcel Baudouin (1860-1941, Secretary of the Societe Prehistorique Francaises). Baudouin's work with the fossilised and silicified sea-urchin (Echinus) was published in 1921 (Baudouin, Marcel. (1921). "La Grande Ourse et le Phallus du Ciel. [Spongiaire phalliforme à gravures]." Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, Tome 18, Number 11, Pages 301-308). Baudouin has made the original constellation identifications. It is likely that Makemson never sighted Baudouin's original article. Through at least Lundmark's article she endorsed the interpretation of the amulet that included: (1) that the engraver had taken care to indicate the differences in brightness of the stars by varying the sizes of the cavities, and (2) the depicted configuration of the Big Dipper stars indicated a high age for the origin of the amulet. Discussions of the amulet and its possible astronomical interpretation are rare. The obvious question is: If the amulet is correctly described by Marcel Baudouin then is the astronomical interpretation reasonable on the evidence? The mention of the amulet by Elizabeth Baity in 1973 likely relies on knowledge of the relevant publication by Maud Makemson and nothing further. Arjan Smit (January, 2011) kindly informed me where Makemson's article can be accessed on the internet. I finally sighted Baudouin's article in April, 2011. (Baudouin also believed that 1 group of 7 cup marks (out of a total of 18) on a stone excavated from Aurignacian cultural deposits at La Ferrassie, France, was a representation of the Big Dipper (= Big Bear) constellation.) Note: A discussion of the occurrence of representations of the Big Dipper on Paleolithic artefacts was also given by Baudouin in, Bulletin de la Société Astronomique de France, Tome 36, avril-may, 1922, Pages 158-170-221-228.
Stone-age amulet from northern Europe as representation of representation of stars in Ursa Major and Boötes from "Astronomy in Primitive Religion." by Maud Makemson (The Journal of Bible and Religion, Volume 22, Number 3, July, 1954, Pages 163-171). Makemson drew on the work of the pioneer French archaeoastronomer Marcel Baudouin in analysing a map of the stars in Ursa Major and Boötes incised on a fossilized sea-urchin amulet from stone-age northern Europe. Makemson wrote: "The representation of Ursa Major ... is remarkable for two reasons: first because the relative positions of the stars point to a very great antiquity for the amulet; and second, because the engraver has taken pains to indicate the difference in brightness of the stars, by varying the size of the cavities."
Original drawing from "La Grande Ourse et le Phallus du Ciel. [Spongiaire phalliforme à gravures]." by Marcel Baudouin (Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, Tome 18, Number 11, 1921, Pages 301-308). A possible criticism is it is a case of interpreting images on the basis of what they look like to us.
Early folklorists were intrigued that the early Greeks (but only a few other Europeans before the Middle Ages) and some Native Americans (i.e., the Mi'kmaq, Algonquin, and the Zuni) identified the Big Dipper as a bear (and hunters). Most did not (i.e., the Egyptians, Arabs, and Germans, and Native Americans). Other versions don't have hunters, or feature other animals. For folklorists, making comparisons became an interesting subject of analysis and discussion. It was suggested that if the Greeks and some Native Americans thought the Big Dipper was a bear, then the narrative must have originated before both groups became geographically isolated more than 10,000 years ago. For many people it seemed unreasonable to suggest that there was a likelihood for 2 independent cultures to have independently formulated a similar simple story. The theme of a man or men pursuing one or more animals, and they are all changed into constellations is not uncommon. Hunting is a common worldwide activity. The Greeks have a myth in which Orion the hunter pursued Scorpius the scorpion, and Zeus then placed them both among the stars.
Native American tribes of the northeastern part of North America commonly identify the 7 key stars of Ursa Major (the "Big Dipper" asterism) as a bear. In his 1906 article "Cherokee Star Lore." (Boas Anniversary Volume, (Pages 354-366)) Stansbury Hagar remarked that generally among the Native American Indians the most important constellations were Ursa Major (= the Big Dipper) and the Pleiades. The identification of Ursa Major (or more accurately the stars forming the Big Dipper asterism) as a bear in North America largely exists in the Algonkin (Algonquin) speaking groups but also in the Plateau groups.
Clan bears are not to be confused with a bear constellation. "Bears are also one of the most important and widespread clan animals in Native American cultures. Tribes with Bear Clans include the Creek (whose Bear Clan is named Nokosalgi or Nokosvlke,) the Chippewa (whose Bear Clan and its totem are called Nooke,) Algonquian tribes such as the Mi'kmaq and Menominee, the Huron and Iroquois tribes, Plains tribes such as the Caddo and Osage, the Hopi (whose Bear Clan is called Honngyam or Hona-wungwa), the Navajo and Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, and Northwest Coast tribes such as the Tlingit, Tsimshian, Nisgaa-Gitksan, and Salishan tribes. Bear was an important clan crest on the Northwest Coast and can often be found carved on totem poles. And many eastern tribes, such as the Caddo, Lenape, and Iroquois, have a Bear Dance among their tribal dance traditions." (Native Languages of the Americas website: http://www.native-languages.org/legends-bear.htm (accessed 2015).)
The Cherokee language is related to the languages spoken by the Iroquois peoples - linguistically the Cherokee are connected to the Iroquois. The Iroquois people occupied the area comprising New York state and the Great Lakes region. At some time the Cherokee left this homeland area and migrated further south, occupying the region of the southeastern USA - primarily the region of present-day Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. (The Algonquin tribes, numbering as many as 100 at one time, were also living along the Great Lakes, and St. Lawrence River, and the Eastern Seaboard from present-day Maine down to Virginia.) By the 19th-century, European settlers in the USA called the Cherokee one of the "Five Civilized Tribes," because they had adopted numerous cultural and technological practices of the European American settlers. (As example of (complete) loss of Native American knowledge: For a brief comment by the ethnologist James Mooney that by the end of the 19th-century the Cherokees had entirely lost their their old calendrical system and had adopted the European calendrical system see The American Antiquarian, Volume XVI, Number 4, July, 1894, Page 244.) The Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia and the Iroquois along the St. Lawrence seaway share the same story about the Big Bear constellation. In the story, the quadrangle of the Big Dipper represents a bear that is pursued by 7 hunters; the 3 closest hunters are the handle of the Big Dipper. The Iroquois story is that the constellation of the Big Dipper was formed when 3 giant hunters chased and wounded a bear, whose blood spread on the autumn leaves as he climbed a mountain and jumped into the sky. The hunters followed. The 3 hunters became the 3 stars of the Big Dipper's "handle," and the bear became the 4 stars of the 'dipper." (Perhaps because the 4 bright stars were seen as the 4 paws of the bear. The hunters continue the chase forever. (Interestingly, the Iroquois oriented their long houses according to the 4 cardinal directions so that the Sun would shine onto the entrance at dawn, and set in the direction of the exit.) The Cherokee also had a story of the Big Dipper as a bear pursued by hunters. It is obviously suggested that the particular story has a common origin.
Bear hunting has a vast history throughout Europe. Bear hunting was common in Europe, even in the 19th-century. Bear hunting is still popular in Russia and conducted for tourists (able/willing to pay the fee) in Romania. Europe's largest brown bear population is now in Romania, their main home territory spreading along the Carpathian Mountains. The early French settlers at least, continued bear hunting in North America. The Mi'kmaq hunted black bears inhabiting the region. Interestingly, a small number of Basques (from the western Pyrenees and Cantabrian seacoast region of southern France and northern Spain) immigrated to America as part of the California gold rush (1848-1855).
Whether the North American bear constellation is an indigenous pre-contact constellation or a post-European contact development has been long discussed. Also, how freely Native Americans borrowed and adapted European tales is still being researched. By the 1870s when the first scientifically oriented anthropologists/ethnologists began to gather information, Native American cultures had been contaminated by interaction with outsiders. The answer may be that the bear constellation and lore was a comparatively late introduction from Siberia/Asia. It is commonly held that the existence of certain parallels between Siberian/Asian star lore and North America star lore relating to the Big Dipper asterism establishes a pre-Columbian origin for the latter and also an Ice-Age antiquity for such. Proponents maintain that the Big Dipper bear constellation entered the American continent with a wave of immigrants circa 14,000 years ago. The eminent astronomer and science historian Owen Gingerich, in his article "The origin of the zodiac." (Sky and Telescope, Volume 67, 1984, Pages 218-220) proposed that a bear constellation crossed the Bering Straits with ancient migrants. (It is generally treated as a reasonable claim by other historians of astronomy and also some folklorists rather than appreciated as a speculative remark. It is somewhat puzzling that it has become something of a standard "argument" as to why the bear constellation in North America must have been introduced very early. Gingerich has also essentially endorsed Willy Hartner's highly speculative "Lion-Bull combat" as early constellations claims as reasonable. Hartner's claims for such are ignored by archaeologists, assyriologists, and art historians.) Gingerich acknowledges Campbell's chapter "Circumpolar Cults of the Master Bear." (Pages 147-151) in his book The Way of Animal Powers: Historical Atlas of World Mythology. Volume 1 (1983). The ultimate source for the contents of Campbell's chapter may have been Geographische Kulturkunde by Leo Frobenius (1904). In this book Frobenius examined world-wide diffusion. In his approach to mythology Joseph Campbell was influenced by Leo Frobenius. Leo Frobenius was involved in the study of the circumpolar bear cult. In 1899, Richard Allen, in his book Star-Names and Their Meanings, and in 1900 Stansbury Hagar, in a journal article on the Mi'kmaq celestial bear, both proposed an ancient origin in Asia for the North American bear constellation. However, the idea is problematic and remains highly controversial. Today, archaeological methods have largely replaced the previous method that made almost exclusive use of ethnographic parallels in determining the history of arctic peoples, including Eskimos (Inuit). The final blow to the kulturkreise theory of Frobenius, etc. came from archaeology. Excavations failed to produce evidence for it. As example: "To put it negatively, there were not Kulturkreis-like movements across Bering Strait of specific traditions, physical types, or linguistic stocks from Asia that then spread out along specific routes in the New World." ("Men Out of Asia; as Seen From the Northwest Yukon." by Richard McBeath (Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska, Volume 7, Number 2, May 1959, Pages 41-70, Page 53).) Archaeology gives a somewhat different picture regarding possibilities. Grant Keddie (Royal British Columbia Museum), 1989, in tracing the diffusion of the labret, set out a case ("Symbolism and Context: The World History of the Labret and Cultural Diffusion on the Pacific Rim." (Paper presented at the Circum-Pacific Prehistory Conference, Session VIII Prehistoric Trans-Pacific Contacts, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., August 1-6, 1989) that the Pacific Rim area circa 3000 BCE saw intensive interaction over broad areas and involving extensive sea travel.
The statement by Owen Gingerich is often quoted but is outdated. This traditional view of the peopling of America is challenged by more recent evidence/data. "All Native Americans trace their biological and cultural roots to one or more groups of Late Pleistocene (Upper Paleolithic hunters from northeast Asia who migrated to North America across the Bering Land Bridge [plain = large area of flat land with few trees] in pursuit of giant mammals that provided their substance [sic? sustenance]. ... To date, the data supporting this traditional scientific view of Native Americans are scanty, conflicting, and confusing. ... Another critical issue arises when the Ice-Free Corridor model is referred to as an event that implies nearly instantaneous American occupation. The peopling of the New World was not a series of migration "events," it was a time-transgressive process of demographic expansion into an unknown territory not previously occupied by humans. ... The peopling of the Americas was a very complex process, leaving behind complex evidence. ... Racial-typological analyses find Paleoindians (or Paleoamericans, as some may prefer) to have a skeletal morphology similar to that of modern Southeast Asians and other Pacific Rim groups ... most recent linguistic analysis of Pacific Rim languages points towards a Southern Asian origin for some American languages." (The First Americans by Joseph Powell (2005, Pages 229, 231-232)). The conditions under which a "Bering Strait migration" might have been possible did not exist much further back in time than 15,000BCE. There were several periods during which the land bridge was thought to have existed. In the last few decades archaeologists have increasingly come to assume that a coastal migration was involved - that the first people travelled along the Bering land bridge (i.e., along the coast of the Bering Land bridge, alongside the ice sheets), rather than across it (i.e., overland through gaps in the ice sheets). Geneticists have found no evidence that the corridor was habitable until 12,600 years ago, well after the archaeological record states the hemisphere became populated.
The modern study of DNA in remains of ancient Native Americans indicates that Native Americans descended from small populations of Asians (and others from the Pacific region) who migrated - beginning some 13,000 years ago - into Alaska (and the west coast) and then expanded southward, likely along the coast. Some also migrated eastward. More recent migrations indicated - occurring in the past few thousand years - are Inuit-related people moving southward to Alaska and eastward to the area of Ontario. Genetic data lends support to the proposal that the area around Lake Baikal in southern Siberia was the ancestral homeland for the proto-Clovis culture that trekked into North America.
Anthropologists currently believe the Inuit (Eskimo) of Alaska and Canada are relatively recent arrivals in North America, from northeastern Asia, arriving only during the last 5000-6000 years. Likely beginning circa 4000 BCE (circa middle Holocene) and routinely continuing into the 1st-millennium BCE. Arriving by boat in Alaska they migrated across the top of Canada as far east as Greenland.
Stansbury Hagar remarked in his 1900 article ("The Celestial Bear." (Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 13, Number 49, Apr.-Jun., Pages 92-103)) on the Native American bear constellation: "When we seek legends connected with the Bear, we find that in spite of the widespread knowledge of the name there is by no means a wealth of material." In his 1906 article "Cherokee Star Lore." (Boas Anniversary Volume. (Pages 354-366)) Stansbury Hagar also remarked that the Mi'kmaq tradition of the Three Kings (= the three stars of Orion's belt) is evidently of European origin.
In 1896 Stansbury Hagar published an article which in part identified the Mi'kmaq snake dance symbolised the Pleiades. (The work for this was conducted several years earlier.) However, no early ethnologist/investigator seems to have made the effort to investigate and argue for a pre-Columbian origin for all or most of Mi'kmaq uranography/star lore. Even William Gibbon simply summarised secondary sources for his two papers setting out the existence of certain parallels between Siberian/Asian star lore and North America star lore.
Native American cultures were devastated by contact with early Euripeans. Native American data was contaminated by European influence and misunderstanding.
Ignoring Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie by the Recollect Order missionary Father Chréstien Le Clerq (1691), the 1900 article by Stansbury Hagar appears to be the sole source for the details of a Mi'kmaq celestial bear tale. This is unfortunate. Hagar was never a professional anthropologist/ethnologist. (Ethnography is the systematic study of ethnic groups (not "races") based on in-depth interviews of typical individuals by skilled observers, especially in the case of nonliterate societies.) At the time Stansbury Hagar began investigating Mi'kmaq lore he was only 22 or 23 years old. To his credit he did actual field work. Whether he paid his informants (consultants) is not recorded. Throughout the 1800s the Mi'kmaqs had been living in rather wretched conditions on reservations. Also, the government had attempted to suppress their traditions. The celestial bear tale may have been obtained when he was 26 years old (and concluded his investigations of Mi'kmaq lore. (It is also unfortunate that he does not identify his sources. It appears the story was gathered whilst literally sitting around a number of Mi'kmaq camp-fires. There was no specific "follow-up" with the particular story-tellers. There is doubt regarding the accuracy of at least one of Hagar's claims. In their book, The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada (1955), Wilson Wallis and Ruth Wallis (Pages 155 & 260) state no confirmation could be found of Hagar's observation that "a form of water-burial analogous to the Norse, was once practiced by the Micmac at the funeral of chiefs." Also, another modern researcher has written that Hagar's claim of hermits living in the mountains has not been able to be verified.) Professional anthropology was not established in Canada until 1911 with the newly-established Anthropology Division. The Baptist missionary Reverend Silas Rand (1810-1889) recorded in 1850 (A Short Statement of Facts Relating to the History, Manners, Customs, Language, and Literature of the Micmac Tribe of Indians in Nova Scotia.) that the Mi'kmaq call the Great Bear constellation, 'Muen' (the bear). (The celestial bear tale is not among the Mi'kmaq tales later collected (during 1915 and 1922) by the ethnologist Frank Speck.) Not answered is the question of whether the celestial bear story is a rigid embedded part of Mi'kmaq traditional culture. "[T]he folk-lore of the Micmac ... is in sad condition, - mixed with European elements, and apparently in large part recast to accord with a European taste." (The Explanatory Elements in the Folk-Tales of the North-American Indians by T. T. Waterman (Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, circa 1913; Published in The Journal of American Folklore, Volume XXVII, Number 103, January-March, 1914, Pages 1-54, Page 4.) Certainly the sole particular example of a Mi'kmaq celestial bear which has been given by Stansbury Hagar does not validate that the Big Dipper as a bear is the product of a stable and relatively widespread Mi'kmaq belief. Exactly where Hagar travelled is vague. (However, the Mi'kmaqs were mostly living on reservations.) We only know he visited the Digby area of the province. At the time of Hagar's visits to Digby (Nova Scotia) there were only 160 Mi'kmaq in Digby County. Most of these would have been of mixed French Acadian descent and only a few would likely have been "full-bloods." (It is, at least, a traditional 19th-century belief of the Mi'kmaq informants (consultants) as recorded by non Native-American.) Earlier references are far briefer. It has been noted by the ethnologist Jesse Fawkes that "... in observations on the traditions of the Indian tribes, the tendency of the listener to add his own thoughts or interpretations is very great. Moreover, no two Indians tell the same story alike." (See: "Contributions to Passamaquoddy Folk-Lore." (Journal of American Folk-Lore, October-December, 1890).) In the same article the (untrained) ethnologist Jesse Fewkes also wrote: "Mr. Leland's work [The Algonquin Legends of New England by Charles Leland (1884).] exhibits throughout want of exactness in recording." Even Frank Speck's study of the Mi'kmaq has been shown to be frequently flawed - especially his model of pre-European Mi'kmaq riverine fisheries (but mostly because of problems with methodology). (See: "The Perfect Disguise: Frank Speck's Pilgrimage to Ktaqamkuk - The Place of Fog - In 1914." by David McNab (American Review of Canadian Studies, March, 2001).) The premise of knowledgeable informants (now called consultants) and competent researchers requires examination. (The historian Michael Coe considers that the most complete study of the starlore of any American Indian group was the Navajo and was accomplished by Berard Haile (1947).)
Source: New Relation of Gaspesia by Father Chrestien Le Clercq (1691); translated and edited by William Ganong (1910); Pages 135-136.
In his monograph Naskapi: The Savage Hunters of the Labrador Peninsula (1935) Frank Speck provides numerous examples of the extensive cultural integration (genetic, "spiritual" and material) that has taken place in Labrador (with the Algonkins (Algonquins)) over the past 400 years. Dating oral traditions can be exceedingly difficult. It is a well established that oral traditions tend to confuse fairly recent events as being "ancient or old" - anything over a hundred years or so can be retold as an original myth. There are many instances in the anthropological literature where events which can be historically placed have been incorporated into tribal lore as very old.
The term "Micmac" for the Native Americans of Nova Scotia (the Atlantic Provinces and Southern Gaspe Bay Peninsula) dates to English records from the end of French rule. Basically it is a mispronunciation of the word Mi'kmaw. The term Nova Scotia = New Scotland (replacing the previous French term "Acadia" (sometimes mispelled, Arcadia)) also dates to the same period. (Samuel de Champlain arrived in Nova Scotia on May 12, 1604. The establishment of French outposts in Atlantic Canada led to the founding of Acadia.) In 1604-1605, with the founding of Port-Royal, in Acadia (later named Nova Scotia) the first serious attempt was made to encourage permanent French settlement of of Acadia. By 1671 there were some 500 French settlers in Acadia, 300 of these were at Port-Royal. (Father Chréstien Le Clerq's account of 1691 was not made prior to other French contact. He came some 50 years at least after French settlers had been engaging with Mi'kmaqs for some time.) There are several explanations offered for the term "Micmac" or "Mi'kmaq." One is that before European contact the Mi'kmaq called themselves L'nu'k meaning simply "the people." Mi'kmaq is the plural form of the singular Mi'kmaw. The present name "Mi'kmaq" derives from "nikmaq" which means "the people." Mi'kmaq also presently live in New England, particularly in Maine and Massachusetts.
Largely forgotten: With the revocation by Louis XIV of the Edict of Nantes on 17 October 1685 (withdrawing privileges of worship to Protestant, issued by Henry IV in 1598) there was a Huguenot exodus from France of about 160,000 persons. In the late 1600's some of these French Huguenot men, women, and children migrated to South Carolina (and other British colonies in North America). It was Huguenot stories that were the primary source of the fairy tales of the Grimm brothers.
Both of William Gibbon's papers on "Asiatic Parallels in North American Star Lore." (published 1964 and 1972 in Journal of American Folk-Lore) present a strong case for the common origin of the bear constellation in Asia and America. Gibbon tracks a number of astronomical stories from the Caucasus to America. I would, however, hesitate to conclude that he has conclusively presented the case for the such. (The folklorist Alan Dundes deemed that Gibbon had conducted limited analyses. See the article: "North American Indian Folklore Studies." by Alan Dundes (Journal de la Société des Américanistes, 1967, Tome 56, Numero 1, Pages 53-79). Dundes does not indicate he believes there was a prolific borrowing of European tales by Native Americans.) In 1902 Waldemar Bogoras published a study ("The Folklore of Northeastern Asia, as Compared with that of Northwestern America." (American Anthropologist, Volume 4, Number 4, December, Pages 577-683)) showing that many folklore tales of northeast Asian peoples had often striking similarities to the folklore tales of the Inuit and Northwest American tribes. (Note: Best used with some caution.) (See also: Asiatic Influences in American Folklore by Gudmund Hatt (1949).) Obviously the question is: How to account for the similarities? However, the issue is perhaps more complex and uncertain than simply arguing for Ice-Age diffusion. Both the ancient Asian and the North American cultures were bear-hunting cultures. If persons wish to maintain that the Native Americans brought the bear constellation with them circa 14,000 years ago when they entered the America continent then they need to make a suitably convincing case that can deal with problematic issues. (Paul Shepard and Barry Sanders (The Sacred Paw (1985), whilst admitting that not every Native American tribe knew of a bear in the sky, simply state: "Some, apparently, had forgotten.") The conclusive case for the early entry of the bear constellation into the Americas has perhaps yet to be incisively made. An early (i.e., pre-Columbian) Native American depiction of the Great Bear constellation would be a convincing discovery. Overall, the Native Americans had few constellations.
See the recent (interesting) investigation: d'Huy, Julien. (2013). "A Cosmic Hunt in the Berber sky: a phylogenetic reconstruction of a Palaeolithic mythology." (Les Cahiers de l'AARS, Number 16, Pages 93-106). (Les Cahiers de l'AARS = L'association de Amis de l'Art Rupestre Saharien.) See also: "Scientists Trace Society's Myths to Primordial Origins." by Julien d'Huy, in Scientific American, September, 2016). The cosmic/astral bear hunt motif is unique to Northern and Central Eurasia and to the Americas. Usually the 3 stars of the handle of the Big Dipper are hunters and the Dipper itself is an animal (a deer or a bear).
The late Danish ethnologist Kaj Birket-Smith (once Curator of Ethnology at the National Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark) wrote: "The cultural link between northern Eurasia and North America is so close that the two parts should be regarded as a single circumpolar cultural district in which a similar environment forms the basis for common development."
The wider question of Palaeolithic connections between Europe - in addition to Eurasia - and the American continent (as example: suggested by artifacts from the Kogruk site, Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska) is not settled. The likely period for Palaeolithic Europeans to use the Bering Strait land bridge to cross into the American continent is the Wisconsin maximum (glacial period) circa 23000-19000 BCE. (See the 1963 publication on the Kogruk complex by the American archaeologist John Campbell. Campbell, John. (1963). "Ancient Alaska and Paleolithic Europe." (Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska, Volume 10, Number 2, April 1963, Pages 29-49. (Note: Based on his work (tool discoveries) at the Kogruk site, Anakturvuk Pass, Alaska in 1956. John Campbell (1927-2013) was an archaeologist and faculty member of the University of New Mexico (rejoining 1964 until retirement).)
Currently archaeology and ethno-history both have an emphasis on cultural interaction. The evidence associated with the history of the pre-contact period and also the post-contact period of the Americas shows that cultural groups do not exist for any extended periods of time in total isolation and that cultural interaction has shaped even those cultural groups who lived in remote and sparsely populated regions. For the northeast region of Canada there is now sufficient archaeological and historical knowledge to understand the inter-related history of the Paleo-Eskimo, Inuit, Dorset, Beothuk and the Mi'kmaq and Abenaki cultures. These cultures largely shared the same climate and geography and their worlds often intersected. (Frank Speck mentions cultural affinities between the Beothuk and the Eskimo.) The arctic and sub-arctic regions and their adjacent coasts are increasingly recognised as longstanding "highways" rather than as barriers to the flow of plants and animals, peoples and cultures. Siberian influence in several early Alaskan cultures is now recognised, and Bering Strait sources are known for many features of Eskimo cultures found across the Arctic. The evidence reinforces the intimate relation that exists between culture and environment and it shows that climate, in particular, often plays a determining role in cultural interaction and technological innovation. (See: A History of the Native People of Canada. Volume 1. (10,000-1,000 B.C.) by James Wright (1995); and Ancient People of the Arctic by Robert McGhee (1996).)
Native American groups have always "borrowed culture" from one another. This includes stories. For an example of the dispersion of myths between Native American tribes (i.e., "The Story of the Waiwailus" from the Bella Coola to the Chilcotin) see A Guide to B. C. Indian Myth and Legend by Ralph Maud (1982, Page 85). The German-American pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas wrote a paper ("Northern Elements in the Mythology of the Navaho," American Anthropologist, Volume X, November, 1897, Pages 371-376.) discussing the evidence for the influence complex elements of of Northeastern Indian mythology on Navaho mythology. The Navaho lived in the Southwest. Historically, the diffusion of agriculture throughout the Americas probably originated from the Valley of Mexico. The diffusion of the Sun Dance throughout much of North America probably originated from the Plains Area. The Algonquin who moved into North Carolina borrowed from their southern neighbours as they adapted to the geographical and climatic conditions of the area. The people of the Woodland Period in the Champlain Valley borrowed from other groups around them. (See also: "Some Aspects of the Aztec Religion in the Hopi Kachina Cult." by Susan James (Journal of the Southwest, Volume 42, 2000). The author also comments on the similarities between Native American tales and folklore and those in other parts of the world. A Paleolithic "universal mythology" is postulated with myths being carried away from a common site of origin as early humankind migrated across the world.)
The rival twins theme incorporated into Mi'kmaq cosmology is identified as borrowed from the Iroquois. The trickster tales of the Huron and Seneca are identified as borrowed from their Algonquian neighbours. (See: Dictionary of Native American Literature edited by Andrew Wiget (1974, Page 71); reissued as Handbook of Native American Literature edited by Andrew Wiget (2013, Page 73).)
Rarely discussed is early Mi'kmaq knowledge of a number of European languages. Soon after European contact some Mi'kmaqs apparently acquired a limited knowledge of a number of European languages.
In his book The Building of Culture (1928) the ethnologist and historian Roland Dixon showed numerous identical mummification practices existed between the ancient Egyptians (21st dynasty, circa between 1090 BCE and 945 BCE) and the remote Torres Strait Islanders of the 19th-century. However, there were also numerous differences. (The island cluster of the Torres Strait lies in a 200 kilometre wide passage of water between the southern coast of New guinea and the tip of the Cape of York (Queensland, Australia).) Naturally cultural borrowing (diffusion) was out of the question (except for some extreme diffusionists). A nineteenth-century paper by John Murdoch ("On the Siberian Origin of Some customs of the Western Eskimos." (The American Anthropologist, Volume 1, Oct., 1888, Pages 325-336)) holds that use of tobacco, fishing nets, and the bird-bolas amongst the Western Inuit originated from contact with Siberia. Such offers the prospect of a pathway for other cultural borrowing. Tobacco use literally diffused around the world within 100 years of the European discovery of the American continent. In his book The Beothucks or Red Indians (1915) James Howley held that the spear design (for killing seals), and also the technique for such, used by the Beothuks of Newfoundland was borrowed from the Eskimos (Inuit). (The last Beothuk died in captivity in 1829.) The antiquity is unknown for certain but it is now generally agreed that they were relatively recent migrants to the Americas from northeast Asia, spreading across the top of North America from west to east over the course of the past 6,000 years. (The Eskimo-Aleut migration circa 4,000 BCE populated (for the first time) the Arctic coastal zone of North America. Another migration took place more recently, circa 1,000 CE.) At Blue Hill Bay on the central Maine coast at least one stone tool found there that was made from non-native stone is made in the style of the Dorset Culture, a prehistoric Eskimo (Inuit) people. It is evidence that before European contact, the Indians living in the coastal Maine area had long-distance relationships through trade with people living in the far north.
Chinese and Japanese coins, as well as Taoist temple talismans, have been found in British Columbia, the oldest of the Chinese coins dating from 1125 CE. The Japanese coins pre-date European contact. They are obviously items brought across the Bering Strait.
Native American origin stories make no mention of a historic arduous crossing, such as the crossing of the Bering Strait, and then a journey southwards away from an ice-bound northern land. (On the basis of their myths they tend to believe they were always in the American continent.) However, we are asked to believe that they have successfully kept a 14,000 year old memory of a bear constellation. It is obvious that among Native American groups their stories and lore do not primarily serve an historical purpose. (Another theory holds that the first Americans may have used boats to make the crossing into North America. There is a growing viewpoint that the first people to enter the American continent were skilled sailors who came by boat circa 11,000 BCE, island hopping from Siberia all the way to the coast of California.) In their recent paper ("Linguistic Origins of Native Americans." in Scientific American, November, 1992, Pages 94-99) Joseph Greenberg and Merritt Ruhlen propose, on linguistic grounds, 3 major Asian migrations; the first circa 12,000 BCE (Amerind speakers i.e., Maya); the second somewhat later (Na-Dene speakers i.e., Apache); and the third circa 3000-2000 BCE (Eskimo-Aleut speakers i.e., Inuit). The colonisation of the Americas was more recently discussed in "The First Americans." by Heather Pringle (Scientific American, November, 2011, Pages 20-27).
If we uncritically maintain that the Big Dipper bear constellation entered the American continent with a wave of immigrants circa 14,000 years ago then we would have to argue similarly for the dragon myth and many others. (Also, there is no one homogenous Native American mythology.) It is well understood that storytellers borrow from storytellers. It is often impossible to determine how folktales and stories originated (i.e., where and when) and how they have migrated and been adopted elsewhere. But the transference has to be done through individual story tellers. The term migration is used when we can distinguish the bearers of the culture and the term diffusion is used when we cannot. European scholars have long believed that Glooscap (Glooskap), the legendary cultural hero of the Mi'kmaqs who appears in a numbers of their tales, is ultimately European in origin. (For Stansbury Hagar the Mi'kmaq hero Glooscap was but one version of the world-wide story of of the solar hero (See: "Weather and the Seasons in Micmac Mythology." (The Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 10, April-June, 1897, Number 37, Pages 101-105).)
"The indigenous stories with the most similarity to European
are those that depict the adventures of an unprepossessing central character,
an orphan, who lives on the margins of a community, sometimes with a
grandparent. Through his or her personal efforts and talents, the assistance of
spiritual beings or forces, or luck, the protagonist attains power, prestige,
and occasionally material wealth." … Stith Thompson (Tales of the North
American Indian (1929)) concluded that ""The Seven-Headed Dragon"
from an Ojibwe source, an Assiniboine version of "John the Bear,"' a Zuni
retelling of ''
For Frank Cushing telling a folktale (The Cock's Whiskers) from Thomas Crane's Italian collection to the Zuni and it quickly (within a year) becoming adapted by them see, The Folktale by Stith Thompson (1977, Pages 222-223). Thompson writes: "It had become so thoroughly adapted to Zuni ceremonialism, however, that its original cumulative nature was hardly recognizable." See also: Italian Popular Tales by Thomas Crane (1885). The tale is known only in a few locations in Europe and amongst the Zuni of New Mexico.
It is difficult to know how much influence the pioneering American anthropologist, Daniel Brinton (1837-1899) may have had. Brinton was an advocate of solar mythology. The European (French) story of John, the son of the bear (Bear Son tale), faithfully appears in the tales of a number of Native American tribes. (The European Bear Son tales have also passed into the folk tales of the French, Spanish, and English speaking areas of the Caribbean.) This European story obviously was not carried by immigrants across a land bridge circa 14,000 years ago. The same may be said of the Cinderella story. (The "Cinderella" story (or rather a variation of it) was told by a Mi'kmaq storyteller circa 1870 and is obviously a reworking from some French-Canadian storyteller. Even the Bear Son tale appears in Mi'kmaq story telling.) (A useful publication is: European Tales Among the North American Indians by Stith Thompson (1919).) See also, Tales of the North American Indians by Stith Thompson (1929, Page xx): "Not fewer than fifty well-known European tales are current among the American Indians." some were told in their entirety, and parts of others were incorporated in existing Indian tales. Also see, The Folktale by Stith Thompson (1977). In his book The Algonquin Legends of New England (1884) Charles Leland frequently makes reference to French influence on Indian stories. The Americanist Earl Count identified that the Earth-Diver stories of the Native Americans had basic similarities to the Earth-Diver stories told by European nations; especially the Slavs. The presence of the Swastika in North America is able to be convincingly explained as a separate parallel development. (Another point of caution with Native America beliefs relate to Creation and Flood legends. This class of myths provides a very useful and important way to assess the issues of European influences.)
The Mi'kmaq story of "The Orchard Keeper" (recorded by Silas Rand; see his: Legends of the Micmac, Volume 2, Pages 242-251) has been considered a French tale (or French influenced tale).
For an example of Hagar's capacity for error with Mi'kmaq myths see: "Angels of Light: A Mi'kmaq Myth in a New Archê." by Jennifer Reid (Canadian Journal of Native Studies, Volume 25, Number 2, 2005, Pages 463-475). Also: Mi'kmaw Myth: Finding Kluskap by Jennifer Reid (2011). Both involve the study of the Mi'kmaw mythic hero Kluskap, and of a ritual space that is the site of an annual Mi'kmaw mission to St. Anne. The author (an academic who has spent time with the Mi'kmaq) suggests that Kluskap myths are linked to a series of 17th-century treaties negotiated with the British, and that both the treaties and Kluskap are enmeshed in a distinctive structure of Catholic ritual through which Mi'kmaw peoples express a unique critique of modernity. The association between the Mi'kmaqs and the Roman Catholic Church dates to the earliest fur trade alliances at the turn of the 17th-century. There are parallels between Glooskap (Kluskap / Koluskap) and St. Anne (Mary's Mother). Hagar (1897), no doubt utilising a range of already established interpretive categories, believed Kluskap was a sky god and an example of a universal solar hero.
Other studies for assessing the issues of European influences (with identified limitations) are: (1) Mythology of the Thompson Indians by James Teit (1912) (edited by Lucy Kramer) which has a section of "Tales Based on European Folklore"; (2) the further selection James Teit in 1916 in Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 29, Pages 301-329; and (3) the short study "Romance Folk-lore Among American Indians" that Franz Boas contributed to his book Race, Language and Culture (1940, Pages 517-524). A more recent study worthy of note is: "The Bible in Western Indian Mythology." by Jarold Ramsey in Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 90, 1977, Pages 442-454. For an interesting view of the diffusion of Native American mythology before European contact see: "The Growth of Indian Mythologies." by Franz Boas (The Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume IX, January-March, 1896, Number XXXIL, Pages 1-11).
A relevant but overlooked article is "The Migration of Folktales: Four Channels to the Americas." by Francis Utley (a specialist in folklore and linguistics) (Current Anthropology, Volume 15, Number 1, March, 1974, Pages 5-27 (then additional comments pages)). The late Francis Utley was Professor of English at Ohio State University, He received his PhD in 1936 from Harvard University (Department of Medieval English Studies). He was also a Fellow of the American Folklore Society. In his article he identifies 4 major routes through which culture, including folklore, has traveled or might have traveled into the American continent. The 4 routes identified are: (1) from Northeast Asia across the Bering Strait; (2) from Southeast Asia across the Pacific islands; (3) from Europe across the North Atlantic; and (4) from Africa across the South Atlantic (due to the slave trade in South America). (See: "African Tales Among the North American Indians." by Alan Dundes (Southern Folklore Quarterly, Volume 29, 1965, Pages 207-219). The essay was also reprinted in the book, Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel edited by Alan Dundes (1973, Reprinted 1981).) Regarding early European influence. The English were established in the north; the French and the Spanish were established in the south. The Spanish in the southwest remained undisturbed throughout the 18th-century. Influence was exerted through the Spanish missions. The French military (French garrisons) and French traders also exerted influence. The French were well established in lower Louisiana. At one time the Choctaw nation was virtually reduced to a French protectorate. A French trading post was established on the Arkansas but eventually advance to western Pennsylvania.
Interestingly, some Portuguese stories were introduced into Angola.
"The mythic figure of the bear is ubiquitous in Christian mythology. The are countless numbers of saints known by a name based on the French or Latin words for bear - Saint Ours, Saint Ursin, and so forth - as well as names based on other similar etymological associations (such as Saint Bernard - from bär, a Germanic source, and -art, the Celtic name for this animal) (Christianity: The Origins of a Pagan Religion by Philippe Walter (2003, Page 176))."
Hagar lacked the means to date tales. A lot of European folklore and beliefs were introduced to Native Americans (especially in Canada) by the early French settlers. Amongst the early French settlers were singer, fiddlers, dancers, and storytellers. The Mi'kmaq relationship with the early French colonists in Canada's Maritime provinces was very close and intermarriage was common. In the early 17th-century several hundred French settlers came to settle in the Maritime Region. (According to the work of Genevieve Massignon the original French farmer settlers who called themselves Acadians came from the region around the city of Loudun. Effectively they all knew each other and were often related to each other.) During the 17th-century many Mi'kmaq children attended French schools on a daily basis. The Mi'kmaqs also adopted the Roman Catholic faith. (The baptism of the aged Chief Membertou and his family at Port Royal, in 1610, was followed in a few years by the conversion, chiefly under Recollet friars, of the whole Mi'kmaq tribe to Roman Catholicism.) By the early 18th-century the British found it difficult to distinguish the French Acadians from the Mi'kmaqs. The French Acadian and the Mi'kmaq population were inseparable. Partly in reaction to Jesuit resistance to sexual relations between Indians and French settlers, the French Crown began a policy in 1668 of encouraging intermarriages. In his recent history of the Mi'kmaq, the historian Harald Prins notes that given the close interaction and relationships between the French settlers and Mi'kmaq in Acadia, and the fact that their communities were so small in number, the result of the policy of the French Crown (began in 1668) of encouraging intermarriages between Indians and French settlers was that few of the local Mi'kmaq and French Acadians would have been "full-bloods" by the mid-1700s. (See: The Mi'kmaq Resistance, Accommodation, and Cultural Survival by Harald Prins (1996), Page 68.) The French Acadian influence was simply enormous. Currently most Mi'kmaqs have French surnames.
There were efforts made in the 20th-century to recover French narrative tradition in North America. (The early French settlers of Canada came in the 17th-century. Quebec was the core of French presence in North America.) The self-proclaimed pioneer ethnographer/folklorist Marius Barbeau (1883-1969) - the founder of professional folklore studies in Canada - recognised that many French Canadian folktales had been assimilated into Native American folklore. (Charles Marius Barbeau is known more commonly as Marius Barbeau.) He obtained a degree in Anthropology at Oxford University. In 1911, as an anthropologist, Barbeau joined the National Museum, (at that time part of the Geological Survey of Canada), and remained until his retirement in 1949. Marius Barbeau frequently lectured on anthropology and folklore (in a structured and comprehensive manner) at at the University of Montreal and at Laval University. Barbeau and others obtained from French communities or individuals within those communities. Also collected were folktales from Native American communities or individuals within those communities. During his work for the National Museum of Canada he built up the French-Canadian archives in the National Museum by collecting (mostly by fieldwork) some 400 French folk tales, aside from other material (such as artifacts and songs). (See: Tradition and Modernity: The Cultural Work of Marius Barbeau by Andrew Nurse (Unpublished PhD thesis, Queen's University, 1997).) Since Barbeau's original field work folklorists have collected literally thousands of Canadian French tales. His student, Luc Lacourcière, a noted folklorist, founded the Archives de folklore et d'ethnologie at the University of Laval (Quebec City). (The Archives of Folklore and Ethnology, founded in 1944 by Luc Lacourcière contains records and material relating to historical French-Canadian customs, legends and tales, songs and music, crafts, costume, etc. They are mainly based on field surveys.) Interestingly, before the decay of oral narrative tradition there were both male and female narrators/storytellers. See: The Two Traditions: The Art of Storytelling Amongst French Newfoundlanders by Gerald Thomas (1993, Pages 15-16). Emphasis has also been given to to understanding how folklore functioned amongst those who used it. Hagar simply collected folklore/mythology. See also: North American Indian Legends by Allan Macfarlan (1968). Folktales of French Canada by Edith Fowke (1979). American Folklore Scholarship: A Dialogue of Dissent by Rosemary Zumwait (1988). American, African, and Old European Mythologies by Yves Bonnefoy (1993). A Landscape of Left-Overs by Anne-Christine Hornborg (2001). Soldier and Peasant in French Popular Culture, 1766-1870 by David Hopkin (2003). American Regional Folklore: A Sourcebook and Research Guide by Terry Ann Mood (2004). The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia edited by Andrew Cayton, et al. (2006, Entry: Folk Narrative, Page 397f). Cinderella in America by William McCarthy (2007). Creole Medievalism by Michelle Warren (2011). Folktales and Fairy Tales by Donald Haase and Anne Duggan (2016, Page 375).
The French-Canadian anthropologist Marius Barbeau (1883-1969) relates that in 1914, during the course of a meeting of the Anthropological Association, that Franz Boas at Columbia University told him that Native American folktales as far south as Mexico could only be French in origin and were likely transferred through the influence of French Canadians. See: "Mythology and Folk-Tales of the North American Indians." Franz Boas (The Journal of American Folklore, Volume 27, Number 106, October-December, 1914, Pages 374-410).) (See also: "Notes on Mexican Folklore." by Franz Boas (Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 25, 1912, Pages 204-260).) The anthropologists Franz Boas, Elsie Parsons, and Aurelio Espinosa held the view that except for the Huichol people, and possibly the Cora people (both groups residing in Western Central Mexico), the folklore of all Native American groups studied in Mexico is primarily European in type (i.e., European in origin). The anthropologist Ralph Beals also commented on the scarcity of tales among many Mexican Indian groups. (See: "Comparative Notes on New Mexican and Mexican Spanish Folktales." by Aurelio Espinosa (Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 27, 1914, Pages 211-231; and also "Problems of Mexican Indian Folklore." by Ralph Beals (Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 56, Number 219, Jan.-Mar., 1943, Pages 8-16.) The anthropologist Gladys Reichard wrote in her Introduction to An Analysis of Coeur D'Alene Indian Myths (1947) that the Coeur d'Alene Indian mythology "has many evidences of white influence." This European influence included French Canadian fur traders. (The Coeur d'Alene traditionally lived in what would become the Panhandle region of Idaho.) The bear constellation of the Coeur d'Alene Indian mythology was a grizzly bear. The Coeur d'Alene lived in the Plateau country of northern Idaho and were well familiar with grizzly bears.
The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar (1987, Page 42): "The critic who undertakes the task of interpreting a tale without first studying the relation of a folkloric text to its variant forms may find himself drawing generalizations based on false premises. The Prairie Band Potawatomi may be able to state with impunity that the folktale hero P'teejah is a full-blooded American Indian boy, but the folklorist who fails to recognize that P'teejah is the French folk hero Petit Jean masquerading as an Indian will find himself drawing embarrassing conclusions about Amerindian culture."
The French presence in Canada began in 1534, but permanent settlement did not begin until Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City in 1608. The French eventually carved out an enormous territory stretching as far east as the Maritime provinces and south to the Gulf of Mexico. After France's defeat in the French and Indian Wars, Britain won control of New France, formalized by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Under British rule, the French Canadians remained a distinct cultural group. The preservation of their cultural identity was aided by the influence of the Catholic Church, the tendency to marry within their own community, and the tradition of having large families. When the Dominion of Canada was established in 1867, French Canadians accounted for one-third of the new country's population. The French-Canadian folklore tradition was strengthened by colonial laws that made it crucial for French Canadians to transmit their culture orally across the generations. Popular characters in French Canadian folklore include a hero figure named Ti-Jean (short for petit Jean, or Little John) and a hunter named Dalbec.
"Important Metis Mythological Figures. Since the Metis are primarily of mixed French, Cree and Ojibway origins, it is not surprising that their folklore contains many traditional stories and mythological figures from all three of these traditions. Here are some common characters from Metis stories: Nenabush, Wisakechak or Ti-Jean. These are benevolent trickster/transformer figures that have largely merged together in traditional Metis folktales. Nenabush is the Michif pronunciation of the Ojibway hero Nanabozho and is the most common name given to the Metis hero; Wisakechak is a traditional Cree trickster; and Ti-Jean is a Michif pronunciation of the French Canadian folk hero Petit Jean ("Little John.") Although the original Petit Jean is quite different in character from the two Algonquian heroes Nanabozho and Wisakechak, Metis storytellers tend to use the three characters interchangeably, and the same story can be heard ascribed to any of these three trickster figures. Nenabush is pronounced similar to nay-nah-boosh, Wisakechak is pronounced similar to wee-sah-kay-chock (and is often called "Whiskey-Jack" by English speaking Metis people), and Ti-Jean is pronounced tee-zhawn." (http://www.native-languages.org/michif-legends.htm; accessed February 2016.)
Source: Coyote Was Going There edited by Jarold Ramsey (2014, Page xxix)
Another popular figure in early French Canadian folklore was Dalbec the hunter. Stories involved him with bears, but not as far as I know, bear hunting.
Due to the French settlers calling the general region of the Maritime Provinces by the name "Acadia" (l'Acadie), possibly from a Mi'kmaq word meaning "fertile land", the French settlers there became known as Acadians. (The establishment of fur posts in 1603-1608 by Samuel de Champlain marked the beginning of Acadia. After the capture of Acadia by British colonial forces in 1710 it became known as Nova Scotia. At that time there was a population of some 2000 French farmers and fishermen.) There was a 100 year period of uninterrupted close relationships and harmony between the Mi'kmaq and French Accadians.
"About 10,000 aboriginals lived in what is now Atlantic Canada before European contact. This included about 1,000 Beothucks who dwelt in Newfoundland, but few if any lived along the south coast by 1670. Epidemic diseases substantially reduced the number of Algonkian-speaking Mi’kmaq long before the early seventeenth century when the French established their first small trading posts in Acadia. As early as 1611, Father Pierre Biard, sj recorded increasing mortality among the Mi’kmaq inhabitants of Nova Scotia. Population densities may have been relatively high among these seminomadic hunters of the sea as well as of the eastern boreal forests, but by 1670 they probably numbered about 2,000 after more than a century and a half of contact with European fishermen and traders. The decline continued into the second quarter of the eighteenth century. A 1705 estimate claimed there were two French for every Indian in Acadia ...." (In Search of Empire: The French in the Americas, 1670-1730 by James Pritchard (2004, Page 5).)
"The astonishing population growth of Acadian colonists was due to unique conditions that prevailed in the colony, where sweeping epidemics were unknown and infant mortality was low. Population growth, however, did not occur in the isolation once thought to be characteristic of the Acadians. Some growth may have been due to Acadian absorption of Mi’kmaqs. Abbé Pierre Maillard claimed that racial intermixing had proceeded so far by 1753 that in fifty years it would be impossible to distinguish Amerindian from French in Acadia." (In Search of Empire: The French in the Americas, 1670-1730 by James Pritchard (2004,Page 36).)
In 1755 the "Great Expulsion" ("Great Upheaval") occurred. In 1755, just prior to (or at) the outbreak of the British-French war (the Seven Year's War), the British deported all the French Acadian population of Nova Scotia (including their Mi'kmaq families), at least 10,000 persons, for their refusal to take an oath of allegiance to Britain (and fight against the French). Of the estimated 10,000 Acadians in 1755 about 8,000 were deported. Thousands more Acadians were killed for resisting deportation and many Acadian homes were burnt. The Acadians had wanted to keep a neutral position regarding the constant wars between Britain and France. They were initially dispersed along the southern Atlantic seaboard. mostly amongst the 13 colonies, and lived a destitute existence. Many Acadians eventually settled in Louisiana which was still under French rule), becoming known as the Cajun culture ("Cajuns"). (The name Cajun is derived from Acadia.) In 1763, after 7 years of war, the British Government gained effective control and after 1764 the proscription against their presence was lifted. Initially only a small number of Acadians were allowed to return to Acadia. Eventually many Acadians returned to Nova Scotia and were resettled on inferior land at the periphery of the settlements established by British settlers. British settlers now occupied much of their former homeland. (For the duration of the war the area had remained largely unoccupied. At the end of the war the British encouraged British settlement of the area.) Most of the Acadians who returned to Nova Scotia were those displaced Acadians who had settled in Louisiana.
Despite this, some Acadians and Mi'kmaqs went to Newfoundland and, due to lack of suitable government systems, remained there. There were both French and German settlers in Nova Scotia.
In the west the marriages between early French settlers with Native Americans created the Métis (a French term) of western Canada. The Métis were the result of marriages of Woodland Cree, Ojibway, Saulteaux, and Menominee Native Americans to French settlers circa the mid-seventeenth century. The Métis homeland consisted of the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, as well as the Northwest Territories. It also included parts of the northern United States (specifically Montana, North Dakota, and northwest Minnesota. (The Hudson's Bay post in the northwest USA was also another likely source of influence.)
The early Spanish conquerors also were influential in passing European folklore and beliefs to Native Americans (especially in Mexico). Dispersion of European tales was likely from the southeast through the trade routes. Early Christian missionaries introduced some 50 biblical themes into Indian beliefs across the USA. Influences for the post-Columbian introduction of some European star lore and constellations to the Native Americans include: missionaries, explorers, traders (including coureurs de bois ("wood rangers") who were free traders who accompanied the Native Americans on their hunting expeditions), colonists, trappers, captives, military alliances, inter-marriage, tribal relocations (migrations and reservations), Indian schools, and ethnologists (exchanging tales). Of these early cultural contacts the key ones were French commercial connections and frequent intermarriage with Native Americans (i.e., Canada), and Spanish military and religious contact (i.e., the mission system) (in Mexico and the Southwest USA). By the 17th-century European colonists had made direct contact with most Native American communities. Some assimilation had also taken place by this early date. Fascinatingly, it was apparently common for early European maps of North America to call it America Septentrional (= Great Bear constellation (Big Dipper)). It is not too difficult to expect that some European constellation beliefs were transmitted to Native Americans after Columbus.
It is particularly among Native American lore that the 4 stars of the 'dipper' are seen as a bear being pursued by the 3 stars of the 'dipper handle.' This is an idea comparable to the Greek constellation myth of Callistro being pursued by hounds.
In his Introduction to Cushing's book Zuni Folk Tales (1901, Pages
xvi-xvii) the noted ethnologist John Powell (1834-1902) relates how a Seneca
Indian, the nephew of a Seneca shaman, was taken by the Spaniards to Europe and
educated as a priest. On his return the nephew related numerous Bible stories to
his uncle who proceeded to compound a number of these with Seneca folk tales and
then establish these new stories among the Seneca.
Customs and Traditions"
Anthropologist, January, 1895, Volume 8,
Stansbury Hagar stated
it was his purpose to
a record of the
stories in order that they could be preserved.
narrates a Micmac folktale about the water fairies, and notes its resemblance to
a Chippewa legend ("The Magic Circle in the Prairie"), and even to the biblical
story of Moses and the
Comparison of key features of Seneca and Mi'kmaq bear constellation stories. The variation in completeness is likely due to different gathering techniques.
|Seneca (per Arthur Parker, 1923). The Seneca are indigenous Iroquoian-speaking people native to North America who historically lived south of Lake Ontario. (The Seneca nation was one of the original members of the Iroquois League.)||Mi'kmaq (per Stansbury Hagar, 1900). The Mi’kmaq are indigenous to Canada's Maritime Provinces and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec.|
|7 hunters (brothers).||7 hunters (Mi'kmaq as brothers).|
|Bear pursued as prey.||Bear pursued as prey.|
|Bear blood staining foliage = Autumn.||Bear blood staining foliage = Autumn.|
|Bear revives annually and is hunted again.||Bear revives annually and is hunted again.|
The differences between European and Native American bear constellations does not pose a problem for late borrowing. Europe and North America have 2 different bear constellations. The European bear constellation is inherited from ancient Greece. The Greek bear constellation has a long tail (but modern bears have no tail). With the Greek sky-bear the stars of the Big Dipper form the hindquarters and tail of the bear with other forming the head and paws. The Native American bear constellation has no tail. In most North American folk-tales the 4 stars comprising the cup of the Big Dipper is the bear and the 3 stars comprising the handle of the Big Dipper are warriors chasing the bear (around the pole). However, it has been recognised that the wide familiarity of the seven Big Dipper stars would tend to make them readily susceptible to the influence of European star lore. For several examples of this see The Arctic Sky by John MacDonald (1998). The later movements of Native American tribes would have assisted in the diffusion of these beliefs. One of the interesting effects of post-colonization was that Native Americans borrowed (copied) some of each other's tribal dress as they were forced into closer contact. They also adapted some articles of European clothing to their own style. (The Mi'kmaq early adopted forms of European dress.)
The astronomer Ed. Krupp pointed out (personal communication, 28 April, 2006): "I am not aware of any European tradition, including French, that incorporates a myth that parallels the content and meaning of the Micmac tale. In fact, the French seem to have taken a different and typically European turn with the Big Dipper and referenced the Bear only because they also inherited the Classical tradition." This comment by Ed. Krupp is, as always, astute and to the point, and requires answering. More so since the European (Greek) bear myth involves both the Great Bear and the Little Bear. (Only a few tribes of Native Americans reflect this scenario.) I can only offer, without the benefit of having made a detailed examination, that the Mi'kmaq bear tale recorded by Stansbury Hagar over 100 years ago is likely a story constructed out of Mi'kmaq seasonal lore and post-contact European star lore. Hagar relates a very short story. A legitimate question is whether it is a "full version" or a "condensed" (i.e., truncated) version that he was told. It has been noted that the Mi'kmaq tale accurately portrays the relative positions as well as their appearance and disappearance in the sky at 45 degrees north latitude (in Nova Scotia). However, the establishment of these details would not be difficult in post-Columbian America. The Mi'kmaq have one of the longest records of interaction with Europeans and North American settlers of any North American Native Indian people. Hagar really doesn't tell us anything detailed about his informants (consultants). We appear to have no information about them - we really know nothing about them regarding their attainments, or status in the tribe. Nothing was done by Hagar to establish the age of the story or its genuineness as a product of Mi'kmaq thought. In his book The Algonquin Legends of New England (1884) Charles Leland wrote: "I have often heard French fairy tales and Aesop's fables Indianized to perfection...." (In European star lore Boötes and his dogs were in perpetual pursuit of the Great Bear constellation.) It is also relevant that Stansbury Hagar had strong preconceptions. His misguided attempts to reconstruct the constellations of the Inca were made on his erroneous assumption that they were identical to Greek and Roman constellations.
The Alabama tribe of the southeastern USA possess a seasonal myth involving the Big Dipper stars as a boat (i.e., celestial canoe with occupants). (The Alabama Indians lived along the Alabama River in the State of Alabama.) In some ways it has similarities with the Mi'kmaq seasonal myth involving the Big Dipper stars as a bear. Also, one version of the Alabama myth holds the Big Dipper stars are a large canoe and a small canoe. The work of ethnologists to recover Native American folklore from the southeastern region of the USA began in the late 1800s. By this time the Alabama had sustained a long history of European contact. In contrast, Blackfoot lore had the 7 stars of the Big Dipper 'Ishkitsi-kammika' comprising 6 legendary brothers and their sister. (See: The Blackfoot Papers: Volume 3, by Adolf Hungry-Wolf, 2006, Page 128.)
There is a paucity of material dealing with the critical analysis of storytelling practices of the Mi'kmaq. One source is Micmac Documented Oral Accounts as Historical Source Material by Scott McKeen (unpublished MA Thesis, 1995). In it he points out that Mi'kmaq storytelling was flexible and "freeform." The storyteller could easily (and did) incorporate changes to suit the audience. He also states that the form of Mi'kmaq stories did change over time.
Without reliable sources from the early period of European contact with Native Americans it is very difficult to decide just how much a story may have been influenced by European beliefs. However, worth noting, the North American Indians were all in nearly the same stage of cultural growth. All of their societies were organised on the same general plan.
"The new ideas brought to a people are dexterously interwoven into the fabric of their life. For example, the hero-story of Pa-bu ka tawa told by Mr. Grinnell in his Pawnee Hero stories bears such a striking resemblance to the life of Christ that we must look upon it as the modification of an early missionary account. An analysis of the folk-lore of the American Indian leads to the conclusion that at least their legends and tales are recently borrowed from European sources." ("The Antiquity of the Folk-lore of the American Indian." by Katherine Stanbery In: The International Folk-Lore Congress of the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, July, 1893. Volume I (1898) edited by Helen Wheeler Bassett and Frederick Starr. (Pages 278-279).) Most of the material in the book was collected during a single visit to the Pawnee camp (on Agency land). The author notes that over the years their number had reduced from 3000 to 800. (It is worth noting that by the time the photographer and 'ethnologist' Edward Curtis was taking his photographs (between 1907 and 1930) there were no Native American remaining whose lives (culture) had not been changed through contact with Europeans.) Interestingly, Robert Lehmann-Nitsche contributed an interesting article to the Report of the Fourteenth International Congress of Americanists (Congress held 1904, Report published 1906). In "Europäische Märchen unter den argentinischen Araukanern." (Pages 681-694) texts are given of 6 tales of the Araucanian Indians of the Argentine, which indicate partly, or wholly, European origins.
The first Jesuits, the Frenchmen Pierre Biard and Ennemond Massé, set foot in what is now Canada, at Port Royal, May 22, 1611. They went first to the Mi'kmaqs, next to the Montagnais, then to the Algonquins.Stansbury Hagar acknowledges that Native American legends of the "Big Dipper" as a celestial bear is given most fully by the Mi'kmaqs. The earliest European reference to a Native American belief in the stars of Ursa Major representing a celestial bear is by the Recollect Order missionary Father Chréstien Le Clerq in Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie (1691). (The Recollect Order began work on the St. Lawrence in 1615 and the Jesuits joined them in 1626. Father Chréstien Le Clerq was a missionary to the Mi'kmaq on the Gaspé peninsula in the mid 1600s. The Gaspesiens were a Mi'kmaq band inhabiting the area of Cape Gaspé, at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.) In the Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie book he relates that, in 1677, he heard a Mi'kmaq tale of the "Big Dipper" being a celestial bear during his explorations in North America. It needs to be kept in mind that the ethnography at this time did not match the standards of the late 20th-century.) I have never seen anybody reproduce the relevant passage(s) from the book and discuss it. (See Appendix 3 below.) The possibility of miscommunication and contamination from the interplay between the priest(s), his informants, and any interpreter(s) during the process of questioning and discussion to acquire information exists. The Native Americans had no written language. Native American oral traditions were written and modified by non-Indians. Indeed, the definition of primary reference appears to include Native American oral traditions that were written down by non-Indians. Native Americans were also forced to learn English. Also, there is some degree of confusion amongst ethnologists and authors regarding which Native American peoples (including Inuit) actually identified the seven (or four) stars of the Big Dipper asterisms as a bear (or some other figure).
See the important discussion comprising Chapter Two, "Jesuit Biases in Interpreting Non-Christian Cultures" (Pages 47-80) in The Jesuit Mission to New France: A New Interpretation in the Light of the Earlier Jesuit Experience in France by Takeo Abé (2011). Takeo Abé notes that several critics of the Jesuit Relations (= Annual Reports) have not been able to offer very effective examples of Jesuit bias. However, it is clear the recorded material, including anthropological/ethnological material, has no relationship to modern anthropological/ethnological reports. Abé, page 47: "Historians today agree that the Jesuit interpretation of foreign nations was biased and needs to be treated carefully." Abé, page 78: "The written observations represent what image and idea the missionaries wished their readers to hold about the indigenous people and their culture, not what they actually were." Abé, page 79: "The Euro-Christian cultural framework employed for interpreting native culture was first restricted by the cultural framework of priests, and then further distorted by the personal priorities of reporters. ... Second, the Euro-Christian biases and the observational or interpretive mistakes can be attributed to the missionaries failure to understand the native culture in a native way, and in their misconception that they understood it well."
In the few details set down by Father Chréstien Le Clerq in Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie (1691) it is not self-evident that the pursuit theme in connection with "this bear" means the Great Bear. No explicit mention is made of any pursuit of the Great Bear. The pursuit might well be connected with the Little Bear as the Three Hunters in a Canoe are stars belonging to that constellation. (Circling behaviour around the Great Bear is not mentioned.) Yet in Stars of the First People by Dorcas Miller (1997) the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor) is basically identified with Three Hunters in a Canoe circling the Great Bear. (Though Father Chréstien Le Clerq is mentioned the interpretation is likely based on the much later account by Stansbury Hagar.) It is obvious from the brief accounts of the missionaries Father Chréstien Le Clerq and the Reverend Silas Rand that the Mi'kmaq, at least by 1677, had called the stars of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor the Big Bear and the Little Bear respectively, and the Milky Way was also called the Milky Way. Just as the European celestial bear is not the hunter but the hunted (i.e., Boötes the Bear-keeper/Bear-guard chases both the Big Bear and the Little Bear) in the Mi'kmaq myth the bear is not the hunter but, at least with one bear constellation, is the hunted.
In their book The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada (1955, page 98), authors Wilson Wallis and Ruth Wallis write" "The stars are called aklo we'djiwi. Many of them have names, for example, ohtadab'an, morning star seen in the east. The North Star, called go'gwadane glo'go wetc, meaning "north," was a guide to travellers. The constellation of the Great Dipper is called mu'in (bear), or adjalkatc. In the seventeenth century it was called mouhinne, and mouhinchiche was the Little Bear or Little Dipper. The three guards of the North Star are three Indians in a canoe who embarked to catch the bear but have not done so yet."
In his Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie (1691, Page 103) Father Chréstien Le Clerq records that he found that the Mi'kmaq tribes at Miramichi (near present-day Chatham) revered and worshipped the cross (or an emblem very similar to a cross) in connection with sun-worshipping rites. It appears they wore the cross on their clothes, carried a cross next to their skin, put it in their cabins, took it with them on their journeys, and had cemeteries with these crosses. This degree of of rather obvious European influence seems hardly surprising. (Some Mi'kmaq claimed their use of the cross was pre-contact.) "By the 1670s the Mi'kmaq of the Gaspé Peninsula and Acadia were quite familiar with Catholic missionaries - since the colonies founding in 1604" (Paper Talk: a history of libraries, print culture, and Aboriginal peoples in Canada before 1960 by Brendan Edwards (2005, Page 30)).
The noted anthropologist James Mooney (1861-1921), an ethnographer with the Bureau of American Ethnology from 1885 to 1921, in his review of Legends of the Micmacs by Silas Rand (1894) wrote (The American Anthropologist, Volume 7, Number 1, January, 1894, Pages 118-120): "[T]heir mental life has been strongly influenced by three centuries of contact with French Catholic priests and fishermen, a fact which becomes apparent as soon as we examine the legends. As a contribution to aboriginal mythology the book is a grievous disappointment. ... The book shows ... an utter inability to to discriminate between the true and the false, and a complete ignorance of the aboriginal range of thought with the result that we find the Arabian Nights and Grimm's Fairy Tales given as Micmac legends. The same mistake was made by Father Petitot [a missionary], who publishes the story of "Brother Lustig" as one of a volume of Indian tales, although it contains not a single aboriginal idea. [It is from Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm.] ... Indians are fond of stories, and readily learn and repeat anything in that line that strikes their fancy. They have been learning fairy stories from French voyageurs and Highland trappers for at least two centuries, and have had descriptions of heaven and hell, of angels and devils for as long a period. There is probably today not a tribe on the continent that has not assimilated some of this material .... The author himself, in his introduction, unconsciously shows us how these "white man stories" come among the Indians and how direct is the line of descent. His first instructor in the language was a Frenchman "who had lived among the Indians nearly all his life and could talk both French and Micmac very fluently." This man's father had been a French sailor who had drifted to Nova Scotia. "The son lived among the Micmacs, married one of them, and translated his name, Joseph Ruisseaux, into Joseph Brooks. He rendered me great service in mastering the Micmac language, and it was from his lips that I first learned of the wonderful legends that, after confirmation by many old Indians, I subsequently gave to the world." Then he goes on to tell us genuine Indian stories of Glooscap, of Kitpooseagunow, and other aboriginal gods and heroes, stories ... which are so mixed up with such tales as "The Prince and the Peasant Girl" and "The King's Daughter and the Man Servant" that it is hardly worth while to try to separate Micmac from missionary. ... Their legends delight in making tiny, insignificant things perform great wonders." Is it possible he never heard of Tom Thumb?" For comments on the gullibility of Silas Rand also see: "Glooscap Encounters Silas T. Rand." by Thomas Abler in Earth, Water, Air and Fire edited by David McNab (1998, Pages 127-141).
There are few reasons to believe that Father Chréstien Le Clerq engaged in meticulous research on the issues concerning Mi'kmaq belief and European influence. Hagar as an ethnologist lacks any details of field methodology. There is nothing to indicated that Hagar was a trained ethnologist. The method he used appears somewhat casual. It appears the celestial bear story was gathered whilst literally sitting around a number of Mi'kmaq camp-fires. Basically Hagar recorded in writing what he heard. It is not indicated that he had an assistant. Speeds of speaking and writing are not commented upon. There is no indication that the narration was interrupted. No quotes are used. It is not stated whether the stories were related in Mi’kmaq, French, or English. There is reason to believe they were given in English (= the translation was done by the informants/consultants). This being so, they were not obtained from native language. It is not clear whether Hagar understood Mi’kmaq or French. It is not clear that Abraham Glode spoke English. His son, Newell Glode certainly did. It is not clear whether Newell Glode translated for his father. Hence, it is indicated that Hagar did not face the problem of language. Whatever the original Mi’kmaq wording was is unknown. The claim of authenticity is based on the congenial relationship and the Mi’kmaqs being so-called "pure blood."
There is no reason to believe that the Reverend Silas Rand engaged in meticulous research on such. Rand lacked any formal schooling and it is recognised that he had limitations as a linguist.
At the "talking circles" or "kikwtoqiaknutmátimk" held at University College of Cape Breton in 1993 Patrick Johnson, a Mi'kmaq participant, remarked that in the early 1900s a number of Mi'kmaq informants (consultants) lied to ethnologists/anthropologists.
The origin of American anthropology/ethnology took place during the period between 1860 and 1890. During the 19th-century in North America ethnology was a branch of anthropology which focused on recording the rapidly disappearing traditional cultures and beliefs of the Native Americans. Only after 1875 did American ethnologists conduct extensive fieldwork among living Native Americans. For decades they simply concentrated on collecting reminiscences of traditional cultural beliefs from a few elderly native informants (now called consultants) who: (1) claimed to remember what life had been like in their youth, and/or (2) have knowledge of historic cultural beliefs and practices. However, as many Native American peoples were so radically altered by European influence by the time they were studied the (salvage) ethnologists were quite unable to verify what they were being told. Often they only spent limited time with their native informants (now called consultants) - a number of hours per day for up to several weeks. Evidence of significant cultural change was usually simply ignored. By the 20th-century the Mi'kmaq had lost nearly everything in their culture and a number of them actually became engaged in the process of borrowing from other Native American cultures - predominantly those located across the border in the USA. (An example of this is the late adoption by the Mi'kmaq of the feathered head-dress.) For a time even the Mi'kmaq language was at risk. It had largely ceased to be spoken and had been diluted by the French language.
The Mi'kmaq Indians were among the first Native Americans to have contact with Europeans. This contact began in the early 1500s with the exploration of Cape Breton by the French Bretons. (In 1497 the British seaman John Cabot discovered the northeast coast of America and also reported an abundance of cod on the Newfoundland Banks.) Virginia Miller (who taught at Dalhousie University) believes there was intensive contact between the Mi'kmaqs and Europeans throughout the 16th-century (and earlier). (See: "The Decline of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Population, A.D. 1600-1850." in Culture, Volume 2, Number 3, Pages 107-120.) Beginning in 1501, a variety of European fishing (Basque, Spanish, French, British, and Irish) boats (comprising some 10,000 fishermen) visited the Grand Banks every summer and returned to Europe in the autumn. A few crew members stayed over the winter, past their seasonal fishing tasks, to maintain the shore installations. A few persons even resided permanently as "liveyers." By 1519 these fishermen were coming ashore to dry their catch. (At the beginning of the 16th-century, news of the rich fishing waters off the coast of Nova Scotia spread quickly in Europe.) During the early contact period it was estimated that the Mi'kmaq population numbered approximately 4000 people. Estimates of Mi'kmaq numbers at this time vary and have been placed at 12,000 and substantially higher. According to A Gazetteer of the World ((Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain), Volume 5, 1856, Pages 224): "The Micmacs were once scattered over the entire extent of the eastern coast of Canada, of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and some of the adjacent islands - who now inhabit the SW coast of Nova Scotia and the interior of Newfoundland." (Following European contact there was a dramatic decline in population due to disease. In 1617, at the height of a disease epidemic (likely "chicken pox") caused by English slave raiders, large sections of the coast of New England were completely depopulated. In 1746 (or 1747) the French apparently spread typhus (or smallpox) to the Mi'kmaq Indians and this resulted in the death of up to 75% of the Mi'kmaq population. For example see: Pox Americana by Elizabeth Fenn (2003). Also, in 1738 smallpox killed half of the Cherokees. In 1779-1783 there was a massive smallpox epidemic from Mexico to Canada. (The introduction of alcohol also had a devastating cultural effect.) Many Mi'kmaq died during the crop failures of the 1840s and 1850s. The (largely potato) crop failure circa 1845 to 1848 was particularly devastating for the Mi'kmaqs. (See: "The Decline of Nova Scotia Micmac Population, A.D. 1600 - 1850. (Culture, 1982, Volume 2, Number 3, Pages 107-118).)) In 1830, New Brunswick (which separated from Nova Scotia in 1784) counted less than 1,000 Mi'kmaq, Ma;iseet, and Abenaki. (See: Canada's First Nations by Olive Dickason (1992).) According to the Census of 1871, the first opportunity for obtaining reliable knowledge of Mi'kmaq numbers, the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia numbered 1,666 persons.) The accuracy of Mi'kmaq population counts encounter the problem of the migratory habits of the Mi'kmaq and also the reluctance of many families to identify themselves as being Mi'kmaq. By the early 1600s missionaries had established solid contact with the Mi'kmaqs and were living amongst them. (An example is the Jesuit Pierre Biard who had a missionary station among the Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia from 1611 to 1612. By this time there was also an immense amount of contact with fur traders and European fishing fleets.) However, the first Frenchman to master the Mi'kmaq language was the Catholic missionary Abbé Antoine-Simon Maillard. From 1735 to 1762 he lived with the Mi'kmaq Indians at Restigouche on the Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec. For the early influence of European Catholic beliefs upon Mi'kmaq religion see: "Culture Change in the Making: Some Examples of How a Catholic Missionary Influenced Mi'kmaq Religion." by Carlo Krieger (American Studies International, Volume 40, Number 2, June, 2002, Pages 37-56). Stansbury Hagar was one of the first ethnologists to collect Mi'kmaq tales. (At the time that Hagar carried out his work there was no established standard for anthropological/ethnological certification.) Hagar's work among the Mi'kmaq's was conducted in 1895, 1896, and 1897. For his several studies of Micmac lore Stansbury Hagar nearly always based himself in the town of Digby (Nova Scotia). At the time of these studies there were only 160 Mi'kmaq in Digby County. (The local Digby Weekly Courier (the local newspaper at this time) is perhaps a source of information regarding the visit by Stansbury Hagar. It was acknowledged as being a quality newspaper.)
Pre-contact and post-contact Native American population figures vary considerably. Also, since the 1960s there has been a move by some demographers to revise Native American population figures arbitrarily upwards. (Some modern estimates range from a population of 2 million to 10 million circa 1492.) The anthropologist Keith Cunningham (American Indians: Folk Tales and Legends (2001)) conservatively holds the pre-contact Native American population of North America (i.e., USA, Canada, and Alaska) was over 300,000 people but by 1850 had declined to less than 150,000 people, and by 1900 had declined to less than 16,000 people. Other estimates hold the pre-contact Native American population of the USA alone to be no more than 850,000. (The Indian Commissioner estimated that by 1880 only half the population of Native American were "full bloods.") According to one estimate circa 1600 CE (at the time of their first meeting with the French in 1603) the various bands of Algonquin Indians comprised a total population of about 6,000 persons. By 1768 the British estimated their population totalled 1,500. Other persons conservatively estimate a pre-contact Native American population of North America of between 1.2 million - 2.6 million people. Whatever the population before 1492, by 1800 it was estimated that only about 600,000 Native Americans remained in present-day Canada and the USA. (But estimates vary. One source estimates there were 90,000 Native Americans by 1800.) A series of pandemics was the main reason for the decline in population figures. By 1900 this was estimated to have declined drastically, to about 350,000 people. (See the population discussion in 1491 by Charles Mann (2006).) A large number of Native American folktales and legends were collected by anthropologists and others during the period of drastic decline of Native American tribes. For a relatively recent discussion of pre-contact population figures as high as approximately 50,000.000 see: "How Many People Were Here Before Columbus?" by Lewis Lord (U.S. News & World Report, August, 18-25, 1997, Pages 68-70). The author concludes that the pre-Columbian population figure is forever unknowable.
Two factors commonly overlooked are Native American dislocation (due to the consequences of the westward expansion of European settlers) and forced migration (forced (or agreed) removal and resettlement). By 1837 Andrew Jackson had removed 46,000 Native Americans from their land east of the Mississipi. Also, Indians of the eastern part of the USA who survived annihilation (e.g., the Mandans, and the Apalachee) were deculturised. Interestingly, the French and British from Canada had penetrated Mandan territory before the Lewis and Clark expedition starting May 1804. In the 18th-century Native American dislocation was significant. There were scattered groups of Indian refugees living in settlements, refugee camps, or with other tribes. Throughout the 18th-century (and 19th-century), through outcomes of warfare or migratory resettlement (forced or agreed), various Native American tribes merged with each other. In the early 1800s the Chicksaws were removed to share land with the Choctaws. The Natchez (after surviving a massacre) mixed with the Creeks. In the early 18th-century there was an attempt to settle the Seminoles among the Creeks. In the early 18th-century, displaced Indians such as the Creeks in Alabama wandered throughout the USA. About 2,500 joined the Cherokees. The Cherokees displaced from Georgia moved to other parts of the USA. Apart from this there were intertribal unities. The Ohio tribes, especially the Shawnees, kept active contacts with the Southern Indians (= the territory south of Ohio). In the late 1800s the so-called Indian Territory (comprising most of Oklahoma and Kansas) became the home of many diverse tribes due to the removal policy of the USA government. Approximately 90,000 Native Americans were moved there. Indian tribes living in close proximity included at least: Cherokee, Commanche, Chicksaw, Creek, Choctaw, Delawares, Iowas, Sauks, Kickapoos, Osage, and Poncas. (See: A History of the Indians of the United States by Angie Debo (1970).) Without discussing this aspect we have the observation: "Although a few people had unique interpretations of constellations, most shared their approach with other people. The groupings of people who shared beliefs make patterns that must reflect some sort of historical interaction." (Lankford, George. (2007). Reachable Stars: Patterns in the Ethnoastronomy of Eastern North America.(Page 34).)
During the 19th-century, concerns for loss of ethnographic knowledge had been expressed by US ethnologists/anthropologists with the Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Ethnology (later, Bureau of American Ethnology). "The dissolution of tribal relations and the partial civilization of the Indians, their education in the English language and their adoption of the customs of white men make it very important that every fact of historical or ethnological interest concerning their aboriginal period should be collected and preserved as soon as possible. This work has not been undertaken too soon. ... A lack of knowledge of the aborigines and total ignorance of their languages led to many curious errors on the part of early explorers and settlers. ... Consequently, for these and other reasons, the early literature relating to the American Indians, and much of it down to the present day, is confusing and inaccurate." ("A Catalogue of Indian Tribes," The American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal, Volume XXVIII, January-November, 1906, Pages 33-34.)
The generic 'Thunderbird' (giant bird) tale is rather widespread amongst Indian tribes. (See "The Thunder-Bird amongst the Algonkins." by Alexander Chamberlain (The American Anthropologist, Volume III, January, 1890, Pages 51-54).) The particular details of a hunter being carried away by a giant bird to its nest and escaping by using the wings of a nestling, are identical among the Micmac, Cherokee, and the Menominee (in Wisconsin). (See: Thunderbirds by Mark Hall and Mark Rollins (2008).)
Perhaps the earliest European reference identifying that a Native American people named the key 7 stars (Big Dipper) of Ursa Major a "a bear" appears Key to the Languages of America by Roger Williams (1643). Roger Williams (circa 1600-circa 1683/4) was a British-born Baptist theologian who several times resided in North America. (He was the founder of the city of Providence, Rhode Island in New England). His (now very rare) first book Key to the Languages of America was written during a return voyage to England (and published in London). He briefly remarks that just as the Greeks and others call the 7 stars of the Big Dipper asterism the bear so do the Narragansett tribe of New England call these stars a bear. (The modern English quote is: "As the Greeks and other nations, and our selves call the seven stars, or Charles Wain, the bear; so do they [using the words] Mosk or Paukunnawaw, [which both mean] the bear.") (At least one other early source identifies that in the language of the Narragansett tribe the words mosk and paukúnauwaw both mean "a bear," and also have several other meanings.) However, Roger Williams also claimed he found their language had a great affinity with the Greek language. This claim has not been taken up by any specialist in Native American languages. The Narragansett tribe occupied the area surrounding Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island (and also parts of Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts). Most of the New England tribes spoke Algonquin languages. The Narragansett tribe were prolific traders. It is estimated that up to 75 percent of Native Americans in New England died of European diseases in the 1500's and 1600's.
In 1712 Cotton Mather wrote that he asked the Native Americans in Boston about their astronomical knowledge and was told that they always called the constellation known by the Europeans as "the bear" by the name of paukunnawaw, meaning "the bear." In the case of both Roger Williams and Cotton Mather we really have no knowledge of how critically the information was gathered, an assessment of their informants, and the reliability of both the information and the informants.
Probably one of the best (but uncritical) collections of Native American star lore is to be found in Stars of the First People by Dorcas Miller (1997). However, no one seems to have really examined the possibility of mistaken cross cultural equivalences. Undoubtedly we need a more critical assessment of sources - not simply repetitive assembling of references. The issue is raised by the astronomer John Eddy in his article "Archaeoastronomy of North America." in In Search of Ancient Astronomies edited by Ed. Krupp (1978). The astronomer John Eddy has made it clear on several occasions that he is somewhat skeptical of the argument for widespread Native American belief in Big Dipper = bear constellation prior to European influence.
The identification of Ursa Major (or more accurately the 7 stars forming the Big Dipper asterism) as a bear constellation in North America largely exists in the Algonquin speaking groups of northeastern North America and also in the Plateau groups living in the northern part of East Oregon. (The Plateau group lived in the area between the Cascade Range on the west and the Rocky Mountains on the east and north of the Great Basin. The Plateau group culture was not stable.) It would seem that few of the southwestern Indian tribes (some 18 approximately) identified the Big Dipper with a bear constellation. (It all depends on who is included in the list and vice-versa who is excluded. The Zuni and Jemez are commonly excluded.) The southwestern Indian tribes tend to call the stars of the Big Dipper as "the seven." (An exception are the Southern Paiute who identify the Big Dipper as a bear. The Keresan Sia (a Pueblo tribe) also appear to identify the Big Dipper as a bear.) It is commonly held that apart from some very early and transient Spanish (and Portuguese) contact the southwestern tribes appear to have remained almost untouched by European influence (but not European contact) until the late 1800s. However, in her 1936 article "Riddles and Metaphors among Indian Peoples." (Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 49, Numbers 191/192, Jan.-Jun., Pages 171-174) Elsie Parsons observed: "The Pueblo Indians have been exposed for centuries to Spanish riddles and tales; they have taken over the tales but not the riddles." Jesuit missionaries seem to have had far-reaching contact with most other tribes during the 1500s. (See also: Pueblo Indian Folk-Tales, probably of Spanish Provenience." by Elsi Parsons in Journal of American Folklore, 1918, Volume 31; and "Spanish Tales from Laguna and Zūni, New Mexico." by Elsie Parsons and Franz Boas in Journal of American Foklore, 1920, Volume 33.) Few southwestern tribes appear to have a bear constellation. Also, it is recognised that the astronomical information that has been recorded in this region by ethnologists is frequently very confused and contradictory. (It has been pointed out that the publication Ethnography of the Tewa Indians by John Harrington (1916) needs to be used with some caution (and this includes the astronomical information on star names and constellations) as his willingness to pay for information resulted in him being misled by some informants (now called consultants). The Tewa are part of the Pueblo Indian group.) The reference(s) used by William Gibbon have the Zuni Indians and the Jemez Indians identifying the Big Dipper as a bear constellation. It is doubtful, however, that the Zuni can be included in the list for the Zuni identification of the Big Dipper as a bear constellation usually relates to references to Stansbury Hagar or Frank Cushing.
"The Blackfeet know the principal stars of Ursa Major as seven boys, all save the youngest of whom (Dubhæ) had been killed by their sister. The Sioux call the four body stars the coffin. It is borne by four men who are followed by mourners. Mizar and Alcor are called 'She who comes with her young ones weeping.' The Ojibwas also called these stars 'the Fisher' .... (Hasting's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Part 23, Page 71.)"
Interestingly, in his book Myths and Folk-lore of the Timiskaming Algonquin and Timagami Ojibwa (1915, Pages 22-23) the ethnologist Frank Speck states that in the folklore of the Timiskaming Algonquin (who are located in Canada near Quebec) the constellation Ursa Major is called "fisher" or "black cat." The 4 main stars (of the asterism "the dipper") form the body of the animal and the 3 stars trailing behind (the "handle of the dipper") represent the fisher's tail. In his book Beothuk and Micmac (1922), focusing on Newfoundland, Frank Speck makes no mention of a bear story. In the book In Indian Tents: Stories Told by Penobscot, Passamaquoddy and Micmac Indians to Abby Alger (1897) no mention is made of any bear story. It is easy to conclude that a celestial bear story was not widespread amongst the Micmacs.
Neither Stansbury Hagar or Frank Cushing can be considered reliable. The work of both is generally ignored by modern anthropologists/ethnologists. Both worked within a period known as salvage ethnology (also known as the Dark Ages of ethnology). Salvage ethnography is generally associated with the anthropologist Franz Boas. It is the recording of the practices and folklore of believed rapidly disappearing cultures. In the late 19th-century there was concern with the rapidly disappearing traditional cultures of aboriginal Canada. Stansbury Hagar's work with the Mi'kmaq simply focused on oral testimony from informants (now called consultants) but it does not appear that he had a command of the Mi'kmaq language. (By the end of the 19th-century - at the time of Hagar's investigations - many Newfoundland Mi'kmaqs had ceased speaking their own language.) Hagar was not a seasoned ethnologist when he collected Mi'kmaq stories. There is no indication of how they were recorded. Also unresolved is the question: Did Hagar pay his informants (consultants) an honorarium? Unlike Cushing who lived with the Zuni for years Hagar only made brief visits to them where they had an encampment near an established town (i.e., Digby) and used several informants (now called consultants) only. This leads to the issue of how hurriedly the stories were collected. It is perhaps likely that Hagar never spent more than several weeks at a time in Digby. (By way of interest the town of Digby dates to the latter half of the 18th-century and the rail line to Digby was completed in 1891.) Hagar was obviously dealing with members of the Digby-Annapolis tribe which occupied the area of the Digby and Annapolis counties. (By the late 19th-century the Mi'kmaqs lived in abject poverty in small communities near European towns that had been trading centres.) Additionally, Hagar did not always specify who exactly gave him what information. (Two early informants (now called consultants) were Abram (Abraham) Glode and Newell [Newel] Glode, both Elders of the Bear River Band, Bear River Reserve. Their recollections were the basis for much of the information collected by Hagar.) No critical study of the ethnological contributions of Stansbury Hagar has been made (or at least published). There is no reason to believe Stansbury Hagar had any command of the Mi'kmaq language. He likely never obtained any stories in Mi'kmaq. (Franz Boas (1858-1944) is considered to be the first professional anthropologist to do field work in Canada. This was first carried out in the 1880s.) In their critical discussion of Zuni constellations and star names ("Ethnoastronomy: The Zuni Case." In: Williamson, Ray. (Editor). Archaeoastronomy in the Americas. (1981, Pages 183-191) Mary Young and Ray Williamson state that "the "seven stars" is ordinarily used by the Zuni for the Western constellation the Big Dipper." It is worth mentioning that it is recognised that the pioneer ethnologist Frank Cushing extensively reworked Zuni stories. Cushing did not hesitate to add his own inventions to the original Zuni stories. This has been made clear by both Dennis Tedlock and Eliza McFeely. In his generous Introduction to Cushing's book Zuni Folk Tales (1901) the noted ethnologist John Powell (1834-1902) wrote: "Mr Cushing has introduced a hybrid tale into his collection entitled "The Cock and the Mouse." Such tales are found again and again among the Amerinds. In a large majority of cases Bible stories are compounded with native stories ...." (The German-American anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942), an admirer of Cushing's ability, nevertheless remarked that Cushing's work would have to be done all over again.) For a critical assessment of Cushing and his lack of rigorous methodology see especially: The Zuni and the American Imagination by (the historian) Eliza McFeely (2002). Further, John Powell has described Cushing's book Zuni Folk Tales as discredited mythology. See also "Identity and Difference." in the Translation of Native American Oral Literatures: A Zuni Case Study by William Clements (SAIL, Series 2, Volume 3, Number 3, Fall, 1991, Pages 1-13). (It is also on record that Cushing caused deep offence to the Zuni's with his eagerness to relate their stories, and display their artifacts, to Europeans.) William Newell, the editor of The Journal of American Folk-Lore, wrote of Zuni creation myths furnished by Cushing: "... the impression of philosophic reflection is intensified by the biblical language favored by the reporter." (See: The Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 10, April-June, 1897, Number 37, Page 163.) Also see the informed critical article on the issue of European sources: "Proceed with Caution: Using Native American Folktales in the Classroom." by Debbie Reese (Language Arts, Volume 84, Number 3, January, 2007, Pages 245-256).
Gibbon uses Reagan for the Jemez beliefs. The article ("Notes on Jemez Ethnography." (American Anthropologist, New Series Volume 29, 1927, Pages 719-728)) by Albert Reagan, who spent a lot of time with the Jemez, relates a story involving the turning of the Bear into a constellation in the "cold northern heavens." Gibbon, however, does not identify which stars are identified as the Bear by the Jemez as Reagan cannot make the identification of a Jemez bear constellation with the stars of the Big Dipper. Reagan does not know which stars are meant. (The implication of the bear constellation being described as being placed in the cold northern heavens is that it is the stars comprising the Big Dipper.) According to Von Del Chamberlain the Jemez saw the stars of Taurus as forming a celestial bear (the Hyades as the face and the other stars of Taurus as the body). Both Gibbon and Chamberlain can't both be correct. Also, Taurus as the Jemez bear constellation does not qualify as being in the cold northern heavens. The issue clearly needs to be resolved by other means than simply preferential choice that it is likely that the stars of the Big Dipper are meant.
Another example involving southwestern Indians. Navajo belief in a celestial bear = the Big Dipper is not supported by the anthropologist Berard Haile (Starlore Among the Navajo (1947)) who worked with the Zuni for 50 years. Chamberlain, like Haile, also identifies the Navajo constellation of The Revolving Male (not identified as a bear) with the Big Dipper (= the primary stars of Ursa Major) plus the Pole Star. Paired with this constellation is the constellation of The Revolving Woman formed by the stars of Cassiopeia.
Interestingly, Franciscan friars established a mission at Zuni (Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico) in 1629.
When the same motif is found both in Eurasia and Americas, we can have 4 separate explanations:
1. Common origin. Which implies ancestors of American Indians brought the story across the Bering Strait 15,000 (10,000) years ago.
2. Independent invention. Usually preferred explanation, but in some cases it's really stretching belief.
3. Late contact across Bering Strait. As example: It is well known that contacts between Siberian and Alaskan Eskimos continued for the last 2000 years. It is indicated that some cultural elements penetrated by this route.
4. European impact. This is pretty simple – Indians could have acquired some folklore elements from European settlers after discovery of America. After all, most of American Indian mythology was collected by anthropologists in 19th and 20th centuries, hundreds of years after first contact with Europe.
The more direct source for the observed similarities would be the influx of European priests and missionaries throughout the Americas in the centuries after 1492. They would have received an education that included the Greek and Latin classics, and one way for them to engage with local peoples would be through the sharing of stories and myths about the natural world.
In summary: A large number of tales diffused from European settlers to Native American peoples. Also, a large number of Native American myths/folktales became a syncretic fusion of traditional indigenous tales and post-contact European tales. The case for acceptance of a pre-contact Native American bear constellation needs to deal with (1) problems existing with the reliability of early ethnological work; (2) possibility existing for post-contact influence and diffusion; and (3) possibility existing for the late introduction of the bear constellation from southeast Asia across water "highways" and diffusion. The case for rejection of a Bering Strait migration / pre-contact Native American bear constellation needs to deal with (1) seeming distinct form of Native American bear constellation tales compared to European tradition; (2) early post-contact reports of a Native American bear constellation; and (3) existence of certain parallels between Siberian/Asian star lore and North America star lore relating to the Big Dipper asterism. The possibility existing of the late (pre-contact) introduction of the bear constellation from southeast Asia across water "highways" rejects the Bering Strait migration theory but accepts the pre-contact Native American bear constellation theory.
Table summary of possibilities for the introduction of the bear constellation into the Americas. (Basically there are only 4 possibilities.)
|(1) Bering Strait crossing theory (circa 12000 BCE). The original migrations to the American continent brought the bear constellation with them. They then remained isolated from the rest of the world until European contact in the 15th-century CE. [Rated as unlikely.]|
(2) 'Recent' pre-European contact across the Bering Strait "sea road" (beginning circa 3000 BCE) - for which there is archaeological/ethnographic evidence. The Bering Strait is presently 83 kilometres (51 miles) wide from Siberia to Alaska. Circa 2013 the marine scientist Sonya Baumstein crossed the Bering Strait on a stand-up paddleboard. [Rated as likely.]
|(3) Post European contact (beginning circa 15th-century CE). There is a strong case for the introduction of the bear constellation into North America being either late and/or (re)introduced by European Americans, especially, for example, the French settlers. The French settlers eventually occupied an enormous territory stretching as far east as the Maritime provinces and south to the Gulf of Mexico. The French folklore tradition was strengthened by frequent intermarriage with Native Americans and the French practice of proactively transmitting their culture orally across the generations. [Rated as feasible.]|
|(4) Post-European contact diffusion amongst Natives American. At a period of depopulation and dislocation they shared their cultures. Depopulation circa 17th- and 18th-centuries CE. In the late 19th-century the so-called Indian Territory (comprising most of Oklahoma and Kansas) became the home of many diverse tribes due to the removal policy of the USA government. [Rated as feasible.]|
Major prolonged events disrupting the continuity of Native American cultural life:
(1) Population collapse (mainly disease/also warfare and starvation).
(2) Geographic displacement (European settler land claims/establishment of reservation system).
(3) Tribal assimilation (re-establishment of previously distinct Native American groups into new tribes).
(4) European interaction/Cultural mixing (constant European-Native American contact/intermarriage.
Appendix 1: New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America by Colin Calloway (1997).
Calloway deals with a neglected aspect of possible European influences on Native American traditions - European captives. [Between 1600 and 1800 immigrants to America settled in every colony and, after they had successfully subjugated the Native Americans, European immigrants dominated the societies they formed and replicated the cultures they had left behind in Europe.]
Page xiii: "In many ways, the worlds Indian peoples had created in North America over countless centuries did fall to pieces after European Christian missionaries and others came to their country. But the story did not end there. Indian people-those who survived the new wars, diseases, economic disruption, and societal disintegration generated by European invasion-picked up the pieces and set about rebuilding their world. They saved what they could from the old and used what they could that was new."
Page 3: "Anthropologist Jack Weatherford thinks that the "scramble of peoples and cultures in North America has created a cultural mixture that probably will not be repeated in world history until we encounter life on another planet." Historian Gary Nash points out that the continuous interaction of diverse cultural groups in colonial America produced "a conglomeration of cultural entities." People tend to construct their cultures in interaction with one another, not in isolation. Frank Shuffleton, considering the people of early America "a mixed race," defines ethnicity not as something static and constant but as "a dynamic relation between different cultural groups," who continually modify their understanding of themselves in light of shifting relationships with others."
Page 5: "Colonists from different regions of Europe developed varying relations with different Indian tribes, and did so in a variety of circumstances. Hispanic people in the Southwest and Frenchmen in Canada, the Great Lakes, and Louisiana generally intermingled more freely with Indian peoples than did English settlers on the Atlantic seaboard. A Franciscan friar in 1631 complained that Spaniards in New Mexico were "reared from childhood subject to the customs of [the] Indians," and the Indian imprint on society is visible today more clearly in New Mexico than in New England. In the Great Lakes region, in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Frenchmen and Algonkian Indians created what ethnohistorian Richard White calls "a middle ground," where the French and Indian worlds "melted at the edges and merged" and where it became unclear "whether a particular practice or way of doing things was French or Indian." According to cultural geographers Terry Jordan and Matti Kaups, interactions and cultural exchanges were greatest in "Midland America," where Swedish and Finnish settlers in the Delaware Valley established good relations with the local Indians and produced a mixed backwoods culture that later pioneers carried to large areas of America. The culture of immigrant Saro-Karelian Finns, joined to the indigenous culture of the Delaware Indians, "yielded all the essential ingredients of a syncretistic Midland American colonizing system." Subsequent generations of Scotch-Irish immigrants adopted the Finnish-Indian techniques of forest colonization they found in the Delaware Valley and pushed west and southwest. They added their own genetic and cultural input to early American backwoods culture and society, and only rarely replicated the patterns of peaceful coexistence forged by Finns and Delawares. New York's Mohawk Valley was the scene of bitter fighting during the American Revolution, but the eighteenth-century valley was more often a place where Indians and Europeans talked, traded, and intermarried, where some Indians drank tea and some Europeans tattooed their faces."
Page 6: "Early America in the wake of European invasion became a cacophony of languages, peoples, and cultures. In this "kaleidoscope of human encounters, "Indians and Europeans made what historian T. H. Breen calls "creative adaptations" to new places and new peoples. What emerged was something different, for both Indians and Europeans, from what had gone before. In his excellent history of the Catawba Indians, James Merrell has shown how invasions from Europe created a new world for Native peoples in North America. At first, European colonists had to fit into an Indian world and adapt to the Indians' ways of doing things. As the Europeans adapted to and then transformed America, however, eventually the Indians had to fit into a European world. "Like their new neighbors;' writes Merrell, "Indians had to blend old and new ways that would permit them to survive in the present and prepare for the future without utterly forsaking the past." Both groups of peoples had to make adjustments, but not at the same time, place, or rate. By the end of the colonial era, Indians and Europeans alike had created new societies in America. The European societies displayed evidence of change; many Indian societies had changed beyond recognition."
Page 23: "By 1800, the landscape of North America had changed in another significant way. There were far fewer Indian people. A country that John Winthrop described as ''full of Indians" early in the seventeenth century, was now largely emptied of Indians. Those Indian people who survived, did so by adapting to a world that was very different from the one their forefathers had known and created."
Page 34: "The population collapse continued in the seventeenth century. Governor Diego de Rebolledo reported in 1657 that the Guale and Timucua Indians were few "because they have been wiped out with the sickness of the plague and smallpox which have overtaken them in past years." Two years later the new governor of Florida said 10,000 Indians had died in a measles epidemic. According to one scholar, the Timucuans numbered as many as 150,000 people before contact; by the end of the seventeenth century, their population had been cut by 98 percent. The Apalachee Indians of northern Florida numbered 25,000-30,000 in the early seventeenth century; by the end of the century, less than 8,000 survived. Two and a half centuries after contact with the Spaniards, all of Florida's original Indian people were gone. The pattern repeated itself elsewhere. In 1585, the English established a colony at Roanoke Island in Virginia. Almost immediately, local Indians began to fall ill and die. "The disease was so strange to them," wrote Thomas Hariot, "that they neither knew what it was, nor how to cure it." Across the continent, Pueblo Indians in New Mexico may have suffered from a huge smallpox epidemic that spread as far south as Chile and across much of North America in 1519-24. When they first encountered Europeans in 1539, the Pueblos numbered at least 130,000 and inhabited between 110 and 150 pueblos. By 1706, New Mexico's Pueblo population had dropped to 6,440 people in 18 pueblos. When de Soto's Spaniards passed through the area now known as Arkansas in 1541-43, the region was densely populated. Thousands of people lived in large towns, cultivating extensive cornfields along rich river valleys. One hundred thirty years later, these thriving communities were gone, victims of disease and possibly drought. When French explorers arrived in the mid-seventeenth century, they found Caddoes, Osages, and Quapaws living on the peripheries of the region, but central Arkansas was empty. Epidemic diseases continued their devastation. In 1698, Frenchmen found less than one hundred men in the Quapaw villages after a recent smallpox epidemic killed most of the people. "In the village are nothing but graves," the French chronicler reported."
Pages 34 & 35: "Indian peoples in eastern Canada who had been in contact with French fur traders and fishermen since early in· the sixteenth century experienced the deadly repercussions of such commerce. Jesuit Father Pierre Biard, working among the Micmacs and Maliseets of Nova Scotia in 1616, heard the Indians "complain that since the French mingle and carry on trade with them they are dying fast, and the population is thinning out. For they assert that before this association and intercourse all their countries were very populous and they tell how one by one different coasts, according as they traffic with us, have been reduced more by disease." Deadly pestilence swept the coast of New England in 1616-17. Indians "died in heapes," and the Massachusett Indians around Plymouth Bay were virtually exterminated. As reported by Governor William Bradford, the Pilgrims found cleared fields and good soil, but few people, the Indians "being dead & abundantly wasted in the late great mortalitiy which fell in all these parts about three years over before the coming of the English, wherin thousands of them dyed, they not being able to burie one another; their sculs and bones were found in many places lying still above ground, where their houses & dwellings had been; a very sad spectacle to behold.""
Pages 35-37: "Smallpox struck New England in 1633, devastating Indian communities on the Merrimack and Connecticut Rivers. Bradford reported how "it pleased God to visite these Indeans with a great sickness, and such a mortalitie that of a 1000 above 900. and a halfe of them dyed, and many of them did rott above ground for want of buriall." The epidemic reduced the Pequots in southern Connecticut from perhaps as many as thirteen thousand people to only three thousand, setting the stage for their defeat by the English in 1637, and it may have reduced the Mohawks in eastern New York from almost eight thousand to less than three thousand. Such mortality rates were not unusual when virulent new diseases cut through previously unexposed populations. Indians from the Hudson River told Adriaen Van der Donck in 1656 "that before the smallpox broke out amongst them, they were ten times as numerous as they are now." John Lawson estimated that in 1701 there was "not the sixth Savage living within two hundred Miles of all our Settlements, as there were fifty Years ago." A recent smallpox epidemic in the Carolina upcountry had "destroy'd whole towns." At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Huron Indians numbered as many as 30,000-40,000 people, living in perhaps twenty-eight villages on the northern shores of the Great Lakes in southern Ontario. The French identified them as crucial to their plans for North American empire. The Hurons were the key to extensive trade networks reaching far beyond the Great Lakes, and their villages could also serve as "jumping-off points" for Jesuit missionary enterprises among more distant tribes. French traders and missionaries arrived in Huronia, and it was not long before the new diseases were reaping a grim harvest among the Hurons. Their longhouses were transformed into death traps. The smallpox epidemic that ravaged New England in 1633 reached Huronia in 1634. Smallpox or measles was thinning Huron numbers in 1635-36. A Huron elder, blaming the epidemic on the Jesuits, said, "The plague has entered every lodge in the village, and has so reduced my family that today there are but two of us left, and who can say whether we two will survive." Influenza struck in 1636-37. Smallpox returned in 1639. Huron population was scythed in half between 1634 and 1640. In 1648-49, famine and the attacks of the Iroquois completed the deadly work the diseases had begun. The Hurons scattered, most of the survivors being absorbed by other tribes. Smallpox continued throughout the eighteenth century. It killed half the Cherokees in 1738 and returned in 1760; the Catawbas of South Carolina lost half their number to the epidemic of 1759. In 1763, the British doled out blankets from the smallpox hospital at Fort Pitt to visiting Indians; smallpox erupted among the tribes of the Ohio Valley soon thereafter. Outbreaks of smallpox were reported among Indian populations in New Mexico in 1719, 1733, 1738, 1747, and 1749; in Texas recurrently between 1674 and 1802; and in California, where Indian neophytes congregated in Spanish mission villages made easy targets for new crowd-killing diseases. The massive smallpox epidemic that ravaged western North America between 1779 and 1783 illustrates the speed with which the disease could spread its tentacles throughout Indian country. The epidemic seems to have broken out in Mexico, and it afflicted Indian peoples in Peru and Guatemala. Spreading north to Spanish settlements like San Antonio and Santa Fe, it was picked up by Indians who visited the area to trade for horses. It was then quickly transmitted north and west, through the Rockies and across the plains, slaughtering as it went. It spread into the Canadian forests, killed as many as go percent of the Chipewyans in the central subarctic, and by 1783 was killing Cree Indians around Hudson Bay."
Pages 37 & 38: "Smallpox was probably the number-one killer of Indian people, but it was by no means the only fatal disease. Epidemics of measles, influenza, bubonic plague, diphtheria, typhus, scarlet fever, yellow fever, and other unidentified diseases also took their toll. Alcoholism added to the list of killer diseases imported from Europe. "A person who resides among them may easily observe the frightful decrease of their numbers from one period of ten years to another," said John Heckewelder, lamenting the impact of alcohol. "Our vices have destroyed them more than our swords." Recurring epidemics allowed Indian populations no opportunity to bounce back from earlier losses. They cut down economic productivity, generating hunger and famine, which rendered those who survived one disease more vulnerable to affliction by the next. New diseases combined with falling birth rates, escalating warfare, alcoholism, arid general social upheaval to turn Indian America into a graveyard. Decreased fecundity hindered population recovery. Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts, was once described as "an island full of Indians" and is estimated to have had a population of about 3,000 in the mid-seventeenth century. By 1763, there were 348 people. An epidemic of yellow fever that year left only twenty survivors. Some 3,000 Indians inhabited· Martha's Vineyard in 1642; 313 survived in 1764. Mohawk population continued to decline to little more than 600 by the time of the Revolution. At the western door of the Iroquois confederacy, Seneca population remained stable, but this was largely because they adopted captives and immigrants from other communities ravaged by war and disease. The Illinois Indians of the Great Lakes region numbered more than ten thousand people in 1670; by 1800, no more than five hundred survived. On the banks of the Missouri in present-day Nebraska, the Omaha Indians numbered more than three thousand in the late 1700s; cholera and smallpox cut their population to less than three hundred by 1802. In years when Indian peoples needed all their resources to deal with Europeans and to cope with a world that was changing around them, their numbers were being steadily eroded by disease. Survivors, many of them disfigured by pockmarks, faced the future bereft of loved ones and without the wisdom of elders to guide them. Societies woven together by ties of kinship and clan were torn apart. After disease struck Martha's Vineyard in 1645-46, one survivor lamented that all the elders who had taught and guided the people were dead, "and their wisdome is buried with them." In 1710, Indians near Charleston, South Carolina, told a settler they had forgotten most of their traditions because "their Old Men are dead." In some cases, power struggles followed the deaths of traditional leaders. Old certainties no longer applied, and long-established patterns of behavior must sometimes have seemed irrelevant. The impact of such losses on Indian minds and souls is incalculable."
Page 39: "Not all Indian populations suffered 75 percent or 90 percent mortality rates-indeed, in some areas of the country Indian populations were on the rise in the eighteenth century-but the result was a world newly emptied of Indian inhabitants. Europeans arriving in Indian country in the wake of one or more epidemics made inaccurate estimates of precontact Indian population size on the basis of head counts of survivors. Seeing remnant populations, they gained a distorted impression of the size and sophistication of the societies that had once existed-and that distorted impression entered the history books. America, many believed, was an "empty wilderness," a "virgin land." If the country was empty, that was a recent development; it was depopulated rather than unpopulated. The new world of opportunity, which "free lands" opened for Europeans in North America, was in itself a by-product of European invasion. Historians working to revise the old view of the European settlement of America as a story of progress and triumph have rightly stressed the biological cataclysm that followed European "discovery.""
Page 40: "Though scholars disagree widely in their estimates, it is likely that in what is today the United States, Indian population stood at somewhere between 5 million and 10 million in 1492. By 1800, the figure had fallen to around 600,000."
Page 42: "In 1719, William Tapp or Taptico, the last werowance (district chief) of the Wicomoco Indians of Chesapeake Bay, died. Three Englishmen compiled and appraised the inventory of his estate. Tapp owned goods and livestock valued at £100. His wardrobe consisted of English-style clothing - hats, vests, breeches, garters, and shoes. His house was furnished with chests, tables and chairs, and four feather beds, and there was an assortment of spoons, pewter plates, table linen, old books, and paper. The chief had lived in a manner comparable to that of neighboring English planters. But he also left fishhooks and line, a canoe, guns, and axes, indicating that he had continued to practice the traditional activities of an Algonkian male-fishing, hunting, and clearing the land. The presence of sheep, cattle, chickens, and a spinning wheel indicated that his wife, Elizabeth, had added spinning, knitting, and dairying to the traditional tasks of an Algonkian woman preparing food, making pottery, and rearing children."
Page 74: "In New England, meanwhile, Indian peoples encountered a different brand of Christianity as English missionaries introduced them to the tenets of Puritanism. Puritan missionaries demanded what amounted to cultural suicide from their Indian converts, insisting that they live like their English neighbors if they intended to practice the Christian religion. Nevertheless, many Indian people accepted conversion as they sought spiritual meaning in an increasingly chaotic world. Thomas Mayhew Jr. began preaching to the Wampanoag Indians on Martha's Vineyard in the 1640s but with relatively little success. Then, epidemic diseases swept the island in 1643 and 1645. The shamans, the traditional spiritual leaders and healers, were unable to cure the sick. Scores of Indian people looked to Christianity to provide new explanations, if not new cures, and to fill a void left by the decline of traditional communal rituals. The Indians built their own church community and passed the Gospel from generation to generation."
Page 80: "The Franciscan friar Junipero Serra brought Catholicism to the Indians of California in 1769. Traveling north to the San Francisco Bay area, his expedition established the first Catholic mission at San Diego. Other missions followed until a chain of twenty-one missions stretched more than 650 miles. By 1800, Indian neophytes-as the converts were called-numbered some twenty thousand, testimony to the disintegration of Native societies under the hammerblows of new diseases as much as to the power of Christianity."
Page 99: "Captive taking was a traditional part of the culture of war in many Indian societies, and Iroquois warriors regularly brought captives back to their villages for ritual torture or for adoption into the community, in either case assuaging the grief of relatives who had lost loved ones. Now, Iroquois warriors went to war both to acquire captives and to maintain access to hunting grounds. In 1649, Iroquois war parties smashed the confederacy of their Huron trade rivals, laying waste to Huronia and adopting many survivors. In subsequent years, the Iroquois overran the neighboring Petuns, Neutrals, and Eries. By the 1660s, they were fighting Indian peoples from the St. Lawrence to Virginia, from New England to the Great Lakes."
Page 125: "The new world created by the interaction of Europeans and Indians produced many individuals capable of fulfilling such roles. Many captives, former captives, and children of mixed marriages found a valuable niche in Indian-white relations, since they, and sometimes they alone, had the experience, expertise, and contacts in both worlds to act as intermediaries and communicators. Jacques Cartier took two sons of the Iroquoian chief Donnacona with him to France in 1534. They learned French and returned with Cartier on his second voyage the next year, and Cartier's conversations with them produced a small French-Iroquoian dictionary."
Page 135: "Nevertheless, Indians did travel frequently and extensively long before Europeans arrived. Moccasin paths and canoe routes, networks of commerce and communication, crisscrossed the country and linked Indian communities as far apart as the Ohio Valley and the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and New England. Indian paddlers covered immense distances following the watercourses of North America."
Page 142: "American history textbooks, and some books on Indian history, frequently contain maps that purport to show the location of Indian tribes in 1492, thus "setting the stage" for what was to follow. Such maps often underestimate or totally ignore the reshuffling of Indian populations that occurred in the wake of European contact. The mobility and movement that were integral parts of traditional Indian life gave way to forced migrations. Indian peoples fled new diseases, were scattered by warfare, pursued new economic opportunities and new ways of life, were attracted or repulsed by mission villages, were edged out by white settlers, retreated from white soldiers, or gravitated toward forts for trade or protection. They jostled for position with new neighbors, and sometimes they created new communities and even new tribal or individual identities in the crucible of change and movement that was early America."
Page 143: "Spanish invasion of America generated demographic disruption across large areas of what is now the southern United States. As de Soto's conquistadors cut through the Southeast the human landscape of the region changed forever. War and disease sent populations plummeting. Survivors reeled out of the invaders' way: villages relocated downriver or into the uplands, and much of northwestern Georgia and eastern Tennessee became depopulated, allowing Cherokee-speaking peoples to move into the area. Florida suffered massive depopulation in the century after de Soto's men passed through. Those Timucuans, Guales, and Apalachees who survived resettled around Christian missions after Spaniards built St. Augustine in 1565. In 1703-4, South Carolina militiamen and their Indian allies destroyed Florida's mission communities, carrying thousands of Timucuans and Apalachees into slavery. The rest scattered, and one group fled west. With the exception of a few Native enclaves huddled around St. Augustine, Florida had become a virtual population vacuum. By the time William Bartram traveled through the Southeast on the eve of the American Revolution, the loose alliance of towns stretching across Georgia and Alabama known as the Creek confederacy consisted of "many tribes, or remnants of conquered nations, united." But the fluid nature of the confederacy allowed groups to move away and establish new communities. During the eighteenth century, various groups of Creeks gradually separated from the parent confederacy and went to the depopulated areas of northern Florida."
Page 155: "Taking captives had traditionally appeased sorrowing relatives and assuaged the spirits of deceased kinfolk; after European invasion, it became a way of maintaining population levels as well as patching the social fabric torn by war and disease. Indian peoples who adopted members of other tribes into their communities afforded white captives the same courtesy. War parties often embarked on raids specifically for captives, taking thongs and extra moccasins for the prisoners."
Page 157: "When Peter Kalm visited Canada in the mid-eighteenth century, his party hired an Indian guide from the Huron mission village at Lorette. "This Indian," observed Kalm, "was an Englishman by birth, taken by the Indians thirty years ago when he was a boy and adopted by them according to their custom in the place of a relation of theirs killed by the enemy." He became a Roman Catholic and married an Indian woman. He dressed like an Indian, and he spoke English, French, "and many Indian dialects." Captive taking had been so common during the French and Indian wars that many Indians whom Kalm saw in Canada were mixed-bloods, "and a large number of the Indians now living owe their origin to Europe." Joseph Louis Gill, a prominent Abenaki chief at Odanak at the time of the American Revolution, was the son of two English people who had been captured, adopted, converted to Catholicism, and married each other. Gill-"the white chief of the St. Francis Abenakis"-was English by blood but Abenaki by upbringing and allegiance."
Page 185: "When the French and the English penetrated the southern interior, refugees from the chiefdoms and new immigrants had rebuilt, or were rebuilding, new societies from the ruins. Living in relatively small villages, Indian people banded together in loose confederacies, becoming the Catawbas, Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and other tribes and confederacies of the South. The Indian peoples encountered when English traders first penetrated the Southeast after the founding of Charleston (1670) were already "postcontact" societies. The new societies of North America were ethnically as well as tribally mixed. Indian communities that adopted captives added a European strand to their social fabric. And many new communities, especially on the frontier, were almost from their beginnings multiethnic societies. Arriving at Charlestown, New Hampshire, then the northern frontier of New England, as a girl in 1744, Susanna Johnson found nine or ten families living in cabins, and numerous Indians "associated in a friendly manner with the whites." Looking back in her old age to that time, she recalled: "In these days there was such a mixture on the frontiers of savages and settlers, without established laws to govern them, that the state of society cannot easily be described."
Appendix 2: Two of Stansbury Hagar's early informants (now called consultants) were Abram Glode and Newell Glode. (Much of what is known about Mi'kmaq lore has come from Abram and Newell Glode. Another source of Mi'kmaq lore was Pierre Clemeau, "a famous Micmac storyteller" whom Stansbury Hagar interviewed at least once. I have been unable to find any information about Pierre Clemeau.) At the time Hagar published his 1895 article on "Micmac Customs and Traditions" Abram Glode was 73. Abram Glode was considered to be a very reliable Micmac by Stansbury Hagar. Abram Glode would have been initially interviewed in 1894 by Hagar for his article published in January 1895. It is most likely that Stansbury Hagar first met Newell Glode (Abram Glode's son) in New York City. In 1890 Newell Glode (who appears to have been well educated) had presented a somewhat controversial paper (talk) to the New York Academy of Sciences on his views of the nature of folklore and mythology. Earlier, in 1888, in several published articles, Newell Glode had emphasised the need to collect Native American material on folklore, myths, and tales. (See: American Folklore Scholarship by Rosemary Zumwalt (1988).) Both Abram Glode and Newell [Newel] Glode were Elders of the Bear River Band, Bear River Reserve. During the 19th-century and during the early 20th-century there seems to have been considerable Mi'kmaqs with the family name Glode, including: Sam Glode, Jim Glode, Joseph Glode, Charles Glode, Louis Glode, and Joan Glode. The date of birth for Newell Glode appears to be unknown. His wife's first names may have been Mary Ann. Abram Glode attending school in 1843 is mentioned in L'sitkuk: The Story of the Bear River Mi'kmaw Community by Darlene Ricker (1997). See also the lengthy (German-language) dissertation Der Heilbringer by Arie Deursen (1931). It is indicated that Newell Glode served with the Canadian Forces during World War I, with the rank of Private. He was described as a good canoe paddler.
"My information about the customs and traditions of the Micmac Indians of Nova Scotia has been derived almost entirely from Abram and Newell Glode, the first a man of seventy-three years, the latter somewhat younger and of exceptionally pure blood for a time when none are wholly so. These two Indians have justly achieved a reputation among their tribe for intelligence and knowledge of their native lore. During the many days I' have spent with them at Digby and elsewhere I have invariably found them all eager and interested in being questioned as I was in catechizing them. However, in most cases I have confirmed what they told me by information obtained from others, and I have read to them what I have written in order to avoid mistakes." ("Micmac Customs and Traditions." by Stanbury (sic) Hagar (The American Anthropologist, Volume VIII, January, 1895, Page 31.)
Two other sources Stansbury Hagar relied upon for Mi'kmaq traditions were Silas Rand and Charles Leland. Both are considered somewhat unreliable. However, Stansbury Hagar considered both persons to be capable investigators of Mi'kmaq tradition/lore.
The issues arising here are: (1) Has Hagar recorded the evidence fully and accurately; (2) Were all possible informants used, or simply those who were considered the 'best;' (3) Were all available variants recorded.
Worth noting is the fact that Franz Boas (1858-1942) who, in 1886 worked among American Indian tribes in British Columbia, used the technique of recording the reminiscences of informants as a valuable supplement to ethnography.
Appendix 3: Quote from the Introduction of The Algonquin Legends of New England by Charles Leland (1884). (Charles Leland was a 19th-century amateur anthropologist and largely armchair folklorist. Much of his work is now discounted as unreliable.)
"There has always been intercourse between Greenland and Labrador, and in this latter country we find the first Algonquin Indians. Even at the present day there are men among the Mi'kmaqs and Passamaquoddies who have gone on their hunting excursions even to the Eskimo. I myself know one of the latter who has done so, and the Rev. S. T. Rand, in answer to a question on the subject, writes to me as follows:--
"Nancy Jeddore, a Mi'kmaq woman, assures me that her father, now dead, used to go as far as the wild (heathen) Eskimo, and remained once for three years among the more civilized. She has so correctly described their habits that I am satisfied that her statements are correct.""
Appendix 4: Quote from Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie by Father Chréstien Le Clerq (1691), Pages 135-136, (translated and edited by William Ganong (1910)).
"Although our Indians exist in an ignorance so gross that, as we have said, they do not know how to read or how to write, they have nevertheless some knowledge of the Great and the Little Bears, which they call, the first Mouhinne, and the second Mouhinchiche, which mean exactly in our language the Great and the Little Bears. They say that the three guards of the North Star is a canoe in which three Indians are embarked to overtake this bear, but that unfortunately they have not been able to catch it." [Note: (1) This is hardly a detailed systematic description for purpose of comparison. (2) According to Stansbury Hagar the Mi'kmaqs identified 2 bear constellations to him.]
Part of the translator's footnote comments relating to the above passage are: "These words are pure Micmac. Rand gives Mooin for "bear" (in his Dictionaries), while chiche is the inseparable suffix, very commonly used, meaning "little." Our author evidently believed that the Indians had independently named these constellations the Great and Little Bear, but one's first thought must be that this were too remarkable a coincidence, and the Indians must have obtained the names from early fishermen or other Europeans."
The identification of a Little Bear constellation by the Mi'kmaqs is somewhat problematic. There is every reason to believe the constellation of Ursa Minor (Little Bear) is a late Occidental invention; perhaps introduced to the Greeks from Phoenicia by the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus circa 600 BCE. (According to the Greek historian Strabo (63/64 BCE - circa 24 CE) Ursa Minor (known as the Phoenician bear) was introduced as a superior navigational aid.) Mi'kmaq knowledge of a Little Bear constellation seems very much like a borrowing from Europeans.
Appendix 5: Quote from Legends of the Micmacs by Silas Rand, (2 Volumes, 1894), Volume 1, Pages 56-57.
"They have some knowledge of astronomy. They have watched the stars during their night excursions, or while laying wait for game. They know that the North Star does not move, and call it okwotunuguwa kulokuwech (the North Star). They have observed that the circumpolar stars never set. The call the Great Bear, (Muen (the Bear), and they have names for several other constellations. The morning star is ut'adabum and the seven stars ejulkuch. And "What do you call that?" asked a venerable old lady a short time ago, who, with her husband, the head chief of Cape Breton, was giving me a lecture on astronomy, on Nature's celestial globe, through the apertures of the wigwam. She was pointing to the Milky Way. "Oh, we call it the Milky Way, the milky road," said I. To my surprise she gave it the same name in Micmac."
For a critical discussion of Silas Rand see: Earth, Water, Air and Fire: Studies in Canadian Ethnohistory. edited by David McNab (1998).
Appendix 6: Quote from "Some Customs of the Micmacs." by Greta Bidlake (in Christian Guardian (a newspaper)) which appeared in The Register (a Nova Scotia newspaper) June 14, 1922. (The information is obviously taken from Silas Rand.)
"The Micmacs knew something of astronomy. They had observed that the North Star did not move and, more than that, they called it by a name which meant exactly what those two English words mean., They discovered, too, that the stars around the Pole star did not set and called several constellations by Indian names. It is a strange and puzzling fact that they spoke of the Great Bear as "Muen," the Micmac term for "bear" and of the Milky Way by a phrase which meant precisely the same as our English."
Appendix 7: Stansbury Hagar graduated from Yale University in 1892 and he graduated from the New York Law School in 1897. His work with the Mi'kmaqs is usually identified as being conducted in 1895, 1896, and 1897. At some time Stansbury Hagar obviously decided to gather some original ethnographic data and travel access to the Mi'kmaqs was rather easy. The first two research episodes usually identified i.e., 1895 and 1896, were conducted when he was enrolled at the New York Law school. It is difficult to believe that he was studying law "part-time." What other work he was perhaps doing at the time to support himself is not known. The third research episode was perhaps conducted after he had graduated from the New York Law School. (In fact his work with the Mi'kmaqs began as early as 1894. The New York Times for Wednesday, August 21, 1894, page 3?/8? reported that Stansbury Hagar gave a 30 minute address "Notes on the Customs and Traditions of the Micmacs" at the recent proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.) It is not known if he had conducted research with other Native American tribes prior to his work with the Mi'kmaqs. The research work seems to have been arranged by himself as an independent project. It is likely that it was his first experience as an (amateur) ethnologist. I have never seen a review of the competence of his work by an experienced professional ethnologist. At least in 1897 he had confidence in the reliability of Silas Rand.
Appendix 8: An entry on the "Star Lore of the Micmacs of Nova Scotia" by Stansbury Hagar appeared in Appleton's Annual Cyclopædia and Register of Important Events of the Year .... (1899, Page 46).
Appendix 9: The highly respected Canadian anthropologist Charles Barbeau (C. Marius Barbeau) ("The Field of European Folk-Lore in America." The Journal of American Folk-lore, Volume 32, 1919, Pages 185-197) identified 4 key "primary sources" of intrusive folk-tradition (in Native American lore). These are: (1) the Spanish elements located in the southwest, (2) the French elements located in the northeast, (3) the British elements located in the centre, and (4) the later German oral tradition (initially) located in the German colony in Pennsylvania beginning in 1683.
Appendix 10: "In 1954, Makemson extended her speculation about the power of primitive astronomy in ancient belief in an article in the Journal of Bible and Religion called, "Astronomy in Primitive Religion." Telling "a dramatic story of a distant past when religion included the worship of the celestial bodies," with evidence from China, Mesopotamia, ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt, Makemson drew on the work of the pioneer French archaeoastronomer Marcel Baudouin in analyzing a map of the stars in Ursa Major and Boötes incised on a fossilized sea-urchin amulet from stone-age northern Europe. "The representation," she asserted, "of Ursa Major...is remarkable for two reasons: first because the relative positions of the stars point to a very great antiquity for the amulet; and second, because the engraver has taken pains to indicate the difference in brightness of the stars, by varying the size of the cavities." After discussing a variety of star-worship artifacts, including a relatively contemporary account of a star cult reported by the "apostle to the Muslims," American missionary Sameul Zwemer, she concluded "that in general the various star-cults led ultimately to the seasons of the agricultural year, and to the sun from whose light and warmth all living creatures draw their sustenance."" (Source: Vassar Encyclopedia: (Entry) Maud W. Makemson, 2008 CJ, MH.)
Appendix 11: The earliest sources in chronological order are:
1643: Perhaps the earliest European reference identifying that a Native American people named the key 7 stars (Big Dipper) of Ursa Major a "a bear" appears Key to the Languages of America by Roger Williams (1643). Roger Williams (circa 1600-circa 1683/4) was a British-born Baptist theologian who several times resided in North America. (He was the founder of the city of Providence, Rhode Island in New England). His (now very rare) first book Key to the Languages of America was written during a return voyage to England (and published in London). He briefly remarks that just as the Greeks and others call the 7 stars of the Big Dipper asterism the bear so do the Narragansett tribe of New England call these stars a bear. (The modern English quote is: "As the Greeks and other nations, and our selves call the seven stars, or Charles Wain, the bear; so do they [using the words] Mosk or Paukunnawaw, [which both mean] the bear.") (At least one other early source identifies that in the language of the Narragansett tribe the words mosk and paukúnauwaw both mean "a bear," and also have several other meanings.) However, Roger Williams also claimed he found their language had a great affinity with the Greek language.
1691: Quote from Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie by Father Chréstien Le Clerq (1691), Pages 135-136, (translated and edited by William Ganong (1910)). "Although our Indians exist in an ignorance so gross that, as we have said, they do not know how to read or how to write, they have nevertheless some knowledge of the Great and the Little Bears, which they call, the first Mouhinne, and the second Mouhinchiche, which mean exactly in our language the Great and the Little Bears. They say that the three guards of the North Star is a canoe in which three Indians are embarked to overtake this bear, but that unfortunately they have not been able to catch it." [Note: (1) This is hardly a detailed systematic description for purpose of comparison. (2) According to Stansbury Hagar the Mi'kmaqs identified 2 bear constellations to him.] Part of the translator's footnote comments relating to the above passage are: "These words are pure Micmac. Rand gives Mooin for "bear" (in his Dictionaries), while chiche is the inseparable suffix, very commonly used, meaning "little." Our author evidently believed that the Indians had independently named these constellations the Great and Little Bear, but one's first thought must be that this were too remarkable a coincidence, and the Indians must have obtained the names from early fishermen or other Europeans." In the few details set down by Father Chréstien Le Clerq in Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie (1691) it is not self-evident that the pursuit theme in connection with "this bear" means the Great Bear. No explicit mention is made of any pursuit of the Great Bear. The pursuit might well be connected with the Little Bear as the Three Hunters in a Canoe are stars belonging to that constellation. (Circling behaviour around the Great Bear is not mentioned.)
1712: In 1712 Cotton Mather wrote that he asked the Native Americans in Boston about their astronomical knowledge and was told that they always called the constellation known by the Europeans as "the bear" by the name of paukunnawaw, meaning "the bear." In the case of both Roger Williams and Cotton Mather we really have no knowledge of how critically the information was gathered, an assessment of their informants, and the reliability of both the information and the informants.
1850: The Baptist missionary Reverend Silas Rand (1810-1889) recorded in 1850 (A Short Statement of Facts Relating to the History, Manners, Customs, Language, and Literature of the Micmac Tribe of Indians in Nova Scotia.) that the Mi'kmaq call the Great Bear constellation, 'Muen' (the bear).
1900: Ignoring Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie by the Recollect Order missionary Father Chréstien Le Clerq (1691) the 1900 article by Stansbury Hagar appears to be the sole source for the details of a Mi'kmaq celestial bear tale. This is unfortunate. (It is also unfortunate that he does not identify his sources. It appears the story was gathered whilst literally sitting around a number of Mi'kmaq camp-fires. There was no specific "follow-up" with the particular story-tellers.) (The celestial bear tale is not among the Mi'kmaq tales later collected (during 1915 and 1922) by the ethnologist Frank Speck. Nor is it included in Part Two: Folktales and Traditions of The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada (1955) by Wilson Wallis and Ruth Wallis. The book, Part Two of which consists of 144 stories (137 being collected in 1912), was written by 2 ethnologists who had spent considerable time studying the Mi'kmaq since 1912.) Not answered is the question of whether the celestial bear story is a rigid embedded part of Mi'kmaq traditional culture.
Translation, and the tendency for 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century writers to dismiss/ignore and/or reframe what they heard and saw, created an unfortunate legacy. The term Euroform (introduced by Barbara Mann, 2000) means to reframe indigenous ways/knowledge/understanding/etc. and to force them into forms fitting European shapes. The issue is whether Euroforming was done in the early collection of Native American 'dipper' constellation stories.
Appendix 12: In the appendices of his book Man in Northeastern America (1946) Frederick Johnson mentions "A Micmac Manuscript." by John Prince (ICA-P, Quebec: 87-124). (Other sources give the reference as: ICA-P 15.i. 87-124.) Johnson states: "This manuscript was written in Indian-English by a Micmac Indian for Stansbury Hagar, just when is not stated." Other references to this document give the year as 1906 and also 1907.
Appendix 13: Social Sciences: An evaluation of "Micmac Customs and Traditions" (http://www.wangniao.net/bbs/read-htm-tid-48828.html) posted 7 June, 2010. It seems to be a reproduction of an essay included in the databases of WriteWork, Data Researchers Network, and also Atlants.lv Internet Library (where the author is identified by the tern "taramanky").
A rare critical review/assessment of Hagar's investigative method (or lack of it) amongst the Mi'kmaq. Hagar would have been following the ethnological techniques and fashions of his day. Unfortunately I can not presently locate any details of the author. The review/assessment written in 2004 by a university student studying for a Bachelor's degree (in the social sciences?) It's style is similar to the Public Anthropology critiques of the (internet) Anthropology Journal Archive Project. It is valuable for its insights into the problems with Hagar's investigative approach. (In reproducing the essay I have only clarified some words.):
Although it is difficult to place this article into a specific school or tradition, I believe it comes from historical particularism (typical to the school of American anthropology) because, other than the fact the article is published in "The American Anthropologist" (a possible, yet unreliable, indicator), it deems a focus on the traditions and customs of a group of people as a valid study. Another indicator that further indicates a categorization of historical particularism is the author's use of comparison with other native groups of North America as he describes the similarities between legends told by the Micmac and other native groups. In doing comparisons such as these, Hager illustrates the likely connections between the groups and the shared heritage and past. In addition to this, he includes the example of the game of football which illustrates how new activities can be introduced and how they gradually become part of the culture. Though the article makes no note as to its origin, I could guess that priests or missionaries may have introduced it as a replacement for banned traditional practices.
This article is primarily ethnographic as it focuses on the description of the Micmac, however it is partially ethnologic in the sections about the Serpent Dance and Micmac folklore. In the example of the Serpent Dance, the existence of the rattlesnake symbol among native groups is discussed and related to evidence of shared folklore and dances. In further support of this, the folk story of the water fairies is told which has been found to be a "variant of the Chippewa legend of the 'Magic Circle in the Prairie'", in which the "under world of the stars" is replaced with the "underworld of the sea" (Hager 1895:40). Other than these few ethnologic comparisons, Hager sticks to a primarily ethnologic approach.
The data is written in third person narrative with short interjections of first person where the author is present. The data for the article was collected from two local informants, Abram and Newell Glode, who were interviewed while Hager visited Digby (Hager 1895:31). What resulted was a description of nearly lost customs and traditions that, in 1895, were rarely seen. Little was written about the way of life or the current traditions and customs of the Micmac. Perhaps only traditional customs, those held by the Micmac previous to exploration, were considered appropriate to report on. The author says little about the circumstances in the field but implies that is was fairly easy to find the answers to his questions as his informant were "eager and interested in being questioned" (Hager 1895:31). The article contains some discussion as to the meanings and significance of the traditions but none seem to be from the author's point of view. Any interpretations appear to have come directly from the informants as is the case the description of the meaning of wŏltĕstômkwŏn (Hager 1895:37). Much of the data presented by Hager is written in ethnographic present and if it were not for a few statements by Hager, one may think that these traditions were still dominant during Hager's research. For the case of the Serpent Dance, much had already been forgotten. For example, the song that goes with the dance, as the tradition was practiced less and less frequently, was forgotten, yet in reading the description, one may be lead to believe the dance was still a common practice. Male bias is also present in the article. Indications of this are that male-dominated traditions are the only ones described in this article. This is likely due to the fact that both Hager and his informants were male and this male bias was also a common trend for the period in which this article was written.
The article doesn't appear to stem from any of the great debates of its time. Instead it seems to result from the belief that native groups and their traditions were quickly disappearing and that they had to be recorded before they were lost forever. This created a type of salvage anthropology. In this particular article the style of writing seems to emphasis the quick disappearance of the traditions of the Micmac and the need to record them before they vanish. This article also supports the idea of rationality among all people as the Micmac traditions and customs are described in a way that shows their actions to be logical. One example of this is the game of "wŏltĕstômkwŏn" in which there are complex rules and a distinct beginning and end to the game. It is mostly a game of chance, however a certain degree of strategy is required in order to succeed.
In general Hager seems to have a fair amount of respect towards his informants as they are presented as a valuable, reliable and useful commodity. Within the article Hager does not question or argue against the descriptions or interpretations given to him by his informants. He also does not directly quote them but, based upon the research design, it can be said that much of the article is just a re-wording of their statements. A certain degree of ethnocentrism is also present. The natives are not portrayed as savages but their way of life is considered inferior. The disappearance of their traditions and customs is by no means portrayed as a tragedy but instead as the result of change and influences on their culture. Hager's views in this regard may be influenced by his anthropological training caused by the school of historical particularism where culture is seen as a mixing of elements based largely on the environment. The changes could be explained as a diffusion of some of the European ways into the culture of the Micmac. Hager refers to the Micmac as being misfortuned by the priest who forbade them from attending the public schools which caused the real tragedy in that they were not allowed to learn the "Roman characters" (the alphabet) (Hager 1895:31). Despite all the description of the traditions of the Micmac, only the tradition of football was still a common practice at the time this article was written and in its description a rather crude practice is mentioned where by " scalping was anciently employed as a means of disposing of an opponent" (Hager 1895:36). This makes the traditional ways of the natives look quite gruesome and savage and in turn, as it changed (likely as a result of European priest), it emphasizes the now more civilized way of playing the game.
Hager is not arguing with another writer, nor is he critical of another view or theory. He presents no new methods or theories. In writing this article he only succeeds in describing a small selection of Micmac traditions and in supporting some commonly held beliefs from his time - that all people are rational, culture is an agglomeration of elements and can change largely over time, and the idea that native cultures are rapidly disappearing they must be recorded before they are assimilated into the broader culture. Put simply, Hager's goal was to describe a selection of Micmac traditions and customs before the informants were gone.
Hager, Stansbury. 1895. 'Micmac Customs and Traditions.' The American Anthropologist 8:31-42."
Appendix 14: Abraham (Abram) Glode: Without Stansbury Hagar indicating that the Abram Glode he interviewed in 1894 was 73 years old when Hagar published his paper in 1895 it would be very difficult to identify with any certainty which Abram Glode was meant. This age information indicates the Abram Glode that was the informant/consultant to Hagar was born circa 1822. Using the, 1891 Census of Canada it is possible to identify Abraham Glode born circa 1821, spouse: Nillie Glode, residence: Digby, Nova Scotia. For the 1892 Census his age was given as 70 years old and that of Nillie Glode as 40 years old. Their 2 children were Nenel Glode (20 years old in 1891) and Stephen Glode (10 years old in 1891). The problem is that Nenel does not seem to equal Newell. Also, it would make Nenel/Newell very young for lecturing in New York City in 1890 (perhaps 19 years old). At time of publication of several articles in 1888 he would perhaps be 17 years old. Also, I am unsure how he could be a tribal elder at such a young age.
Appendix 15: Abraham (Abram) Glode as a Common Name in Nova Scotia and Source of Possible Confusion: As example: Abraham (Abram) Glode (born 1.April.1867, Nova Scotia-died 25.September.1932, Springhill, Cumberland, Nova Scotia) died aged 65 years, after being in poor health for some time. Cause of death was carcinoma of the stomach and intestines. Abram Glode was a farmer. He married Ann McGrath, possibly in Maine. (Annie McGrath had 2 sisters; Mary and Elizabeth McGrath.) It appears Ann McGrath was previously married to Joseph Privell (a Native American, married possibly in Maine). Abram Glode and Ann had 2 daughters (Lena May Glode (1902-1990) (Mrs Stephen Gilroy of Fenwick), and Annie, still at home in 1932) and 2 sons (George Dewey, a stepson (George of Maccan), and James (circa 1921-1999), still at home in 1932). (Lena was born in Newville. She was 28 years old, single, living at home in Newville, Roman Catholic when she married Stanley Albert Gilroy, 22 years old, farmer, Baptist, born in Linden, living in Stanley. They married 4-March-1930, St Brigid's Rectory.) Abram Glode's usual residence for many years later in life was Newville. It appears that following his death his wife resided at Halfway River, Nova Scotia. He died in All Saint's Hospital and his funeral service and burial was held 3 days later (27.9.1932) at St. Brigid's (Catholic) Church (Parrsboro, Nova Scotia). The undertaker was Stanley W. Smith. Strangely, neither Lena May nor George Dewey mention a sister. James Glode was a foster son. (He was born in Halfway River. His mother was Sarah Knockwood.) He served overseas during WWII, with the Carleton York Regiment. He worked at the Sifto Salt Plant for 30 years, retiring in 1978. He married Beluah Chapman and they had 3 daughters and 2 sons. He died 6.10.1999 aged 78 years, in Highland View Regional Hospital, Armherst (heart disease?/stroke?). See: Springhill Record, Thursday, September 29, 1932, Page 5; Cumberland County death registrations, Halifax, Nova Scotia; The Halifax Herald Limited, Thursday, October 7, 1999.
Appendix 16: The Mi'kmaq Name Glode: Glode was a common Mi'kmaq surname. It has been seen as a form of the French Glodeau but originally it is from the Latin Claudius (English, Claude). Glodeau appears as a French name in Acadia/Nova Scotia. The name Glode was one of the (French) names given by the French clergy to the Mi'kmaqs who were first baptised in the early 1600s. When Mi'kmaq bands began to convert to Catholicism in 1610, the Mi'kmaq converts were given French names at baptism and introduced to the concept of a first name and a surname. (The Mi'kmaqs were converted to Roman Catholocism in the 17th-century by French missionaries.) Surnames were created by taking the original Micmac name as a last name. However, this later became complicated when children began taking their father's first Christian name as their last name. The result is there are many Mi'kmaq families with surnames such as Peter, Paul, Tony, etc., many of whom were not related to others with the same family name. Mi'kmaqs also adopted the surnames of hunters and explorers for whom they acted as guides. It has also been mentioned that in mixed marriages children took the name of their Acadian father. (It is generally recognised that nearly all present-day Mi'kmaqs (and likely the case circa the 1900s) have Acadian "blood." The name Claude was common among the Mi'kmaqs of Nova Scotia. Claude became Glode. They would usually write it as Glode, but their were several variant spellings. The Mi'kmaqs gave the French C a gutteral sound, like G, Claude became Glode. The French "au" is pronounced "o." Newal (Noel), and Glode (Claude) appear in the Indian list for the year 1855 [NSARM, MG15, Volume 5, Number 69] in Chester and Gold River district.
Source: Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E. Seary, et al. (1998, Page xliv).
See also: Native Peoples of Atlantic Canada by H. F. McGee (1974, Pages 115-116). The Old Man Told Us by (ethnologist) Ruth Whitehead (1991). Acadian Genealogy Exchange, Volumes 21-23, 1992. In the Province of History by Ian McKay and Robin Bates (2010, Page 220). See also: L'sitkuk: the story of the Bear River Mi'kmaw community by Darlene Anne Ricker (1997).
Appendix 17: The Greek Bear Constellation: As early as Homer's time the group of stars comprising the modern-day asterism the 'dipper' was known to the Greeks as the 'Bear,' (not the 'Great Bear'). Also, to Homer the Bear is female. A tradition exists that the 'Little Bear' was introduced to the Greeks by Thales (circa 600 BCE) in his book Nautical Astronomy. However, the book is also attributed to Phocus of Samos. Homer knew the 7 stars of the 'dipper' as both the 'bear' and the 'chariot' or 'wain.' This is the earliest reference to the constellation of the (Great) Bear. (The double name of the 7 stars of the 'dipper' asterism, '(great) bear'/'wagon' has resulted in 2 different names to the constellation that follows it: Arktouros "bear-watcher" and boötes "the wagoner.") It is apparent that the designation 'chariot' or 'wain' is Babylonian in origin. (Wain = a wagon or cart, usually four wheeled.) Perhaps the Bear is to be dated to the Greek Archaic Period.
Thales was reported to have introduced Ursa Minor (Little Bear) as a constellation for Greek mariners in place of Ursa Major (Great Bear). The Little Bear star group was originally designated 'Phoinike' by the Greeks.
For Homer and Hesiod the bear constellation seems to have been the only recognised constellation in the northern sky.
The origin of the Bear constellation in Greek uranography remains unknown. The name and constellation are usually discussed in the context of being borrowed by the Greeks. However, there were populations of Eurasian brown bears in ancient Anatolia and ancient Greece and Macedonia.
A theory that is still promoted is the constellation title originated in prehistoric times among the Indo-Europeans. It is claimed that the earliest known religions were those of the bear cults. However, The origin of the Greek Bear constellation may be connected to the myth of Callisto. To the ancient Greeks, Ursa Major represented Callisto (Kallisto). The bear was an (totemic) animal sacred to the cult of Artemis. The goddess Artemis had a bear cult in Attica. The name Artemis is possibly related to the Greek word ārktos meaning "bear." Homer was familiar with Artemis as the Mistress of Animals. (Principally Artemis was a goddess of animals and hunting.) A cult title of the goddess Artemis was Calliste/Kalliste (Artemis Kalliste) (= Callisto?). It is understood that the story about Callisto was originally about Artemis. The popular Greek goddess Artemis originated in the pre-Greek era. Artemis worshipers were found all over the ancient Greek world. "The identification of the constellation of the Bear with Artemis occurs at PGM VII. 687. The Great Bear was believed to be Callistro, Artemis' fellow huntress, who was transformed into a constellation. Callistro was a manifestation of Artemis herself, who play an important role as a she-bear, especially at Brauronia." [This refers to the bear cult of Artemis at Brauron.] (The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation by Hans Betz (1996, Page 333).)
In Greek mythology the goddess Artemis is involved in the origin of 3 prominent constellations: Ursa Major (the Great Bear), Ursa Minor (the Little Bear), and Orion (the Hunter). According to late Greek myth Ursa Minor is the son of Callistro. (Artemis by Claire O'Neil (2007, see pages 35-39).) See also the discussion: Blomberg, Peter. (2007). "How did the constellation of the Bear receive its name?" In: Pásztor, Emília. (Editor). Archaeoastronomy in Archaeology and Ethnography: Papers from the annual meeting of SEAC (European Society for Astronomy in Culture), held in Kecskemét, Hungary, 2004. BAR [British Archaeological Reports] S1647. (Pages 129-132).
Copyright © 2006-2018 by Gary D. Thompson
Return to top of page.
This Web Page was last updated on: Friday, October 19, 2018, 9:00 am.
This Web Page was created using Arachnophilia 4.0 and FrontPage 2003.
You can reach me here by email (but first delete the obvious attempt in the email address to foil the spammers):
Return To Site Contents Page