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Governance

The Traditional Mi’kmaw System of Government When European settlers came here in the 1600s, the Mi’kmaw Nation belonged to the Wabanaki Confederacy. This Confederacy included the Mikmaq, the Maliseet, the Passamaquoddy, the Penobscot, and the Abenaki tribes. The tribes were all members of the Algonquin family which occupied lands east of the St. Lawrence River, the Adirondacks and the Appalachians.

All these tribes respected the territory occupied by the Mi’kmaq, who divided it into seven hunting and fishing districts. This region, known as Mi’kma’ki, included all of what is today Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the eastern part of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and southern Gaspé.

The Role of the Chief in the Mi’kmaw Society The early Mi’kmaq had a complex system of government. The political structure was made up of a hierarchy of chiefs, including the Local Chief, the District Chief and the Grand Chief.

The Local Chief looked after the affairs of the village community. He presided (ruled) over the “Council of Elders” which was the governing body of the village. This group was made up of family heads or representatives. The Local Chief provided dogs for the chase, canoes for transportation, and supplies for hunting expeditions. He also provided emergency food supplies in times of need.

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