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Finding Kluskap: A Journey into Mi'kmaw Myth

JENNIFER REID
Volume: 2
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 144
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/j.ctt32b9n2
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  • Book Info
    Finding Kluskap
    Book Description:

    The Mi’kmaq of eastern Canada were among the first indigenous North Americans to encounter colonial Europeans. As early as the mid-sixteenth century, they were trading with French fishers, and by the mid-seventeenth century, large numbers of Mi’kmaq had converted to Catholicism. Mi’kmaw Catholicism is perhaps best exemplified by the community’s regard for the figure of Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. Every year for a week, coinciding with the saint’s feast day of July 26, Mi’kmaw peoples from communities throughout Quebec and eastern Canada gather on the small island, Potlotek, off the coast of Nova Scotia. It is, however, far from a conventional Catholic celebration. In fact, it expresses a complex relationship between the Mi’kmaq, a cultural hero named Kluskap, a series of eighteenth-century treaties, and Saint Anne. Finding Kluskap brings together years of historical research and learning among Mi’kmaw peoples on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The author’s long-term relationship with Mi’kmaw friends and colleagues provides a unique vantage point for scholarship, one shaped by not only personal relationships, but by the cultural, intellectual, and historical situations that inform postcolonial peoples. The picture that emerges when Kluskap, Saint Anne, and the mission are considered in concert with one another is one of the sacred life as a site of adjudication for both the meaning and efficacy of religion, and the impact of modern history on contemporary indigenous religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-06258-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-6)

    The Mi’kmaq of eastern Canada were the first indigenous North Americans to encounter colonial Europeans. As early as the mid-sixteenth century, they were trading with French fishers, and by the mid-seventeenth century, large numbers of Mi’kmaq had converted to Catholicism. That association would persist to varying degrees to the present day. Mi’kmaw Catholicism is exemplified by the community’s regard for the figure of Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus.¹ Each year for a week, coinciding with the saint’s feast day of July 26, Mi’kmaw peoples from communities throughout Quebec and eastern Canada gather at a small island off the coast...

  5. 1 TREATIES AND AQUATIC PARASITES
    (pp. 7-26)

    In 2002 I was asked to take part in a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. The panel was to be a recognition of the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Charles H. Long’s Alpha: The Myths of Creation, a book that has been published in numerous editions and has become a standard work among historians of religion.¹ In thinking about my presentation, I decided that I would turn to Alpha as an entrée into a discussion of Kluskap, a mythic hero among the Mi’kmaq of northeastern North America. In spite of a flurry...

  6. 2 KLUSKAP AND ABORIGINAL RIGHTS
    (pp. 27-48)

    For months after I had completed my presentation at the American Academy of Religion meeting, I was haunted by the elusive figure who had been standing in the background throughout. It seemed to me for a while that my search for contemporary Kluskap stories had been a fruitless exercise. I had spent a good part of a summer looking for stories, but those with whom I spoke never really got around to telling me any. In every case, what looked to be a preamble to a story became the focus of our conversation. Often when I asked for a story,...

  7. 3 THE SAINT ANNE’S DAY MISSION
    (pp. 49-71)

    For a while I thought that my search for Kluskap had reached a plausible conclusion with the work I had done on the treaties. In fact, I felt pretty certain that there was no reason to continue chasing after him. But a chance comment from my seventeen-year-old daughter opened my eyes to something that had been staring me in the face for a number of years. And she upset my sense of closure. We were in Tokyo for a meeting of the International Association for the History of Religions, and following my own presentation on Kluskap and the treaties, we...

  8. 4 KNOWING HOW AND WHERE TO BE
    (pp. 72-91)

    My journey from Alpha to Potlotek took a number of years, and it led me through various kinds of research, a lot of conversation, and even some hiking. Through the process, I began to detect a vision of modernity that could not be fully situated in more dominant discourses where modernity had seemingly buckled under itself, clearing a space for the languages of both postmodernism and its critiques. This is the context in which I would like to consider the Saint Anne’s Mission, since I believe that the mission reflects a meaning of religion and modernity that cannot not be...

  9. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 92-98)

    In one sense, this is where I would like to conclude this book. It is a comfortable place to stop, insofar as I have, I believe, thrown a little light on a religious practice that speaks to some of the limitations that are inherent in our contemporary academic discourses. To stop here, however, would be premature, since I also know that the subject that I have been exploring exceeds the cultural language I have to speak of it. To conclude, therefore, I must at least map out a tacit kind of space I have had to confront in saying anything...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 99-110)
  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 111-118)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 119-122)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 123-123)