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Cover for the book Finding Kluskap

Finding Kluskap

A Journey into Mi'kmaw Myth Jennifer Reid
  • Copyright: 2013
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 136 pages
  • Illustrations: 3 maps
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-06068-2
  • Series Name: Signifying (on) Scriptures
“Jennifer Reid presents truly original material—previously unknown stories that she recorded with Mi’kmaw friends. She also ties existing sources together in new ways. Finding Kluskap thus succeeds in presenting both new material and new interpretation—while still synthesizing existing literature in meaningful ways.”
Finding Kluskap weaves a distinctive way of understanding New World religious phenomena that takes seriously the mythological consequences of European presence in Native American territories. It is a scholarly engagement with the mythic dimensions of the New World and colonialism that can be seen as an indigenous critique of a settler culture through the captivating story of Kluskap and Mi'kmaw cultural survival.”
“Jennifer Reid’s well-written text examines several interconnected stories arising from the lives of the Mi'kmaw people of Nova Scotia. Reid describes how, with the arrival of Europeans in the seventeenth century, Mi'kmaw customs of reciprocity were transformed into the language of treaties—and the land of origin, habitation, and sustenance became property that could be bought and sold. These stories are told against a backdrop evoked by the presence of the primordial Mi'kmaw culture hero Kluskap as well as Saint Anne, the matriarch of the Holy Family in the Roman Catholic tradition. Reid demonstrates how the Mi'kmaq creatively responded to ambiguous and dangerous contact with European cultures. The Mi'kmaq, she shows, were able to maintain relationships with their own traditions and, through a careful deciphering of the contact zone, create new modes of being human.”

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 of 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, Saint Anne, a series of eighteenth-century treaties, and a cultural hero named Kluskap.

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 not only by personal relationships but also by the cultural, intellectual, and historical situations that inform postcolonial peoples. The picture that emerges when Saint Anne, Kluskap, 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.

Jennifer Reid is Professor of Religion at the University of Maine at Farmington.




1 Treaties and Aquatic Parasites

2 Kluskap and Aboriginal Rights

3 The Saint Anne’s Day Mission

4 Knowing How and Where to Be





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