Traditional Historical Governance
The Mi’kmaw territory was divided into seven traditional “districts”. Each district had its own independent government and boundaries. The independent governments had a district chief and a council. The council members were band chiefs, elders, and other worthy community leaders. The district council was charged with performing all the duties of any independent and free government by enacting laws, justice, apportioning fishing and hunting grounds, making war, suing for peace, etc.
The Seven Mi’kmaq Districts are Kespukwitk, Sikepnékatik, Eskíkewaq, Unamákik, Piktuk aqq Epekwitk, Sikniktewaq, and Kespékewaq.
In addition to the district councils, there was also a Grand Council or Santé Mawiómi. The Grand Council was composed of “Keptinaq”, or captains in English, who were the district chiefs. There were also Elders, the Putús (Wampum belt readers and historians, who also dealt with the treaties with the non-natives and other Native tribes), the women council, and the Grand Chief. The Grand Chief was a title given to one of the district chiefs, which was usually from the Mi’kmaq district of Unamáki or Cape Breton Island. This title was hereditary and usually went to the Grand Chief’s eldest son. The Grand Council met on a little island on the Bras d’Or lake in Cape Breton called Chapel Island or Potlotek. To this day, the Grand Council still meets there to discuss current issues within the Mi’kmaq Nation.
Modern Day Governance
While much remains intact in terms of how communities are governed, there are also many modern day differences that affect the Mi’kmaw people. Since the
- Crown-Mi’kmaw Treaties
- Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey Education Agreement
- Mi’kmaw Child and Family Services Agency
- Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO)
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