The Old Man Told Us: Excerpts from Micmac History, 1500-1950

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Nimbus Pub., 1991 - History - 385 pages
2 Reviews
The Mi'kmaq people have been living in what is now Atlantic Canada for two thousand years or more, yet written history has largely ignored them, presenting them merely as a homogeneous mass or as statistics. Renowned Micmac specialist Ruth Holmes Whitehead, formerly staff ethnologist and assistant curator in history at the Nova Scotia Museum, tries to redress that omission by restoring to the collective memory a true sense of the Mi'kmaq. In this rich collection, oral and written, Mi'kmaq accounts juxtapose contemporary European perceptions of native peoples, as documented in letters, journals, court cases, and much more. Above all, The Old Man Told Us is a historical jigsaw puzzle, a display of fragments of broken mirror in which one can capture moments in the lives of particular people. It is a book of excerpts from whatever scattered documentation has survived over the centuries.

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Review: The Old Man Told Us

User Review  - Craig - Goodreads

A bit difficult to read but it was meaningful. Chief Sherry Pictou gave me her personal copy. It is the book that the Micmacs refer to. I was lucky enough to work with Bear River several years ago. Read full review

Review: The Old Man Told Us

User Review  - louis - Goodreads

i am mi'kmaq obsessed. especially with our stories. though i gotta say that it's super weird and pretty boring that a lot of our stories have been written down by white folks. it's gettin kinda old. Read full review



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About the author (1991)

Ruth Holmes Whitehead, ethnologist and assistant curator at the Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, has worked with the Mikmaw people for 30 years, and her work is an important source of information about historic Mikmaw culture. Her meticulous analysis, attention to detail, creative genius, and sensitivity have earned her the respect of Mikmaw specialists such as linguist Bernie Francis, who lent his expertise to Tracking Doctor Lonecloud. Ruth Holmes Whitehead became aware of Jerry Lonecloud in 1972 when she began working with the collections and records of the Nova Scotia Museum, much of which had been acquired during the tenure of Harry Piers, curator from 1899 to 1940. She was also on hand when photos by Clara Dennis were donated to the museum in 1973, a collection of black and white images of Mikmaw people, including portraits of Lonecloud. Research on the book really began in 1992 when her colleague Trudy Sable took her to look at the Clara Dennis material in the Nova Scotia Archives. They spent months transcribing notebooks containing Loneclouds memoir, recorded by Clara Dennis in pencil in childrens scribblers. A consultant to the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Whitehead has curated numerous exhibitions and written many articles and monographs. Among her popular books are Micmac Quillwork, Stories from the Six Worlds: Micmac Legends, and The Old Man Told Us: Excerpts from Micmac History, 1500-1950.

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