Canadian Heritage

Historical Vignettes

Generic terms used around 1604 by Samuel de Champlain to designate different Native bands living in the East: Souriquois or Micmacs, Eteminquois - or Etchemins and Almouchiquois - or those living on the American territory. Ghislain Michaud, Les gardiens des portages : l'histoire des Malécites du Québec, Quebec, Les Éditions GID, 2003, p. 23 (translated from the original).

The Maliseets and the Forest: a Mutual Respect

When the first Acadians settlers arrived in the Saint John River Valley, towards the end of the 18th Century, the region was already home to the Wulustukieg or Maliseet Nation, a branch of the great Algonquian family. The very name Madawaska comes from the Algonquian language, madawes-meaning porcupine and kak-meaning land. The Wulustukieg or Maliseet people identified themselves as “the People of the Saint John River”, strongly marking their sense of belonging to the region.1

Texts and testimonials concerning the history of the Aboriginal people of Madawaska are respectively old and rare, with a few exceptions:

Official history, for different reasons, is particularly verbose on the Indian presence in the lower River district. The Etchemins make brief forays into the territory but do not reside in it. The Maliseets are identified as Indians native of the Saint John River Valley. (...) It is only in 1690 that the name Malécite (Maliseet) appears in official French documents. Up until then, the Indians living between the Atlantic coast and the southern shore of the Saint Laurence River were generally referred to as Etchemins. This last term was also used to designate all Indians of Acadie, with the exception of the Micmacs, considered as a separate group.2