Wednesday, February 15, 2017
‘after planting their few potatoes they wander about the Island’: The Mi'kmaq
and British Agricultural Policies in Nineteenth Century Nova Scotia.
Courtney Mrazek, Doctoral Student, University of New Brunswick
Beginning in the early eighteenth century, British colonizers in Nova Scotia, a portion of the territory known by its indigenous inhabitants as Mi’kma’ki, sought to reform Mi’kmaw people’s concepts and utilization of land through agricultural policies. They hoped that in doing so, the Mi’kmaq would become stationary instead of transient, and ultimately be “civilized.” While the Mi’kmaq never became the agriculturalists the British envisioned, they did participate in sporadic farming activities and made active use of the British legal system to petition the government for various aids and rights. This presentation will argue that although the agricultural policies the British hoped would “civilize” the Mi’kmaq fell short of their intended outcome, Mi’kmaw communities negotiated their pressures and possibilities, managing to use agricultural opportunities to alleviate difficult social and economic circumstances through a myriad of treaty expectations and negotiations, friendships, petitions, and gift-giving.