LNU'K SAQMAWAQ OF TAQM

(MI'KMAQ CHIEFS OF NEWFOUNDLAND)



The history of our people in Taqm (Newfoundland) is still very much in dispute. We believe we have always been here. Our detractors say we arrived around the early 1600s.

Because of the lack of knowledge of relevant records that may yet come to light and provide more information on this subject, it is very difficult to write a true history of the Saqamaq of Taqm. Coupled with this is the fact that many of us trace our ancestry back through L’nu and Innu (and possibly even Wabanuok (Abenaki) lines.

Some of the following we do know and some is this writer's conjecture based on available knowledge. The reader will undoubtly understand that ancient names have been interchanged often, with surname becoming first name and vice versa. Not to mention the many different ways the many different writers heard and recorded the names. (i.e. An English speaker writing down, in English, a French speaker's rendition of what the french speaker heard an L'nu say)

In Atlantic Kanata the Seven Districts of Mi’kma’ki were UNAMA'KIK (Cape Breton and Taqm), ESKI'KEWAQ, SIPEKNE'KATIK'IK and KESPUKWITK (collectively most of Nova Scotia); SIKNIKTEWAQ (New Brunswick); EPEKWITK AND PIKTUKEWAQ (Prince Edward Island and part of Mainland Nova Scotia) and KESPE'KEWAQ (Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec).

Most Mi’kmaq know of and believe Kji Saqamaw Maupeltuk, born about 1510, was one of our many “Leaders of all Mi’kma’ki” - A Kji Saqamaw. Kji Saqamaw Maupeltuk, in 1610, was the first Indigenous North American to be baptized. He was given the name Henri Membertou. (Membertou – one of the first instances of a mispronounciation and misprinting of a perfectly good L'nu name by European writers) He died in 1611.

In addition to our Kji Saqamaw, each district of Mi’kma’ki had a leader and obviously, each nomadic group had their leader as well. The dynamics of leadership and its evolution as nomadic groups came together into villages will not be discussed here.

Up until 1860, Taqm was a part of the UNAMA’KIK District. Unama’kik is the Isle Royale/Cape Breton of modern history. The Saqamaw of Unama’kik was also the Saqamaw of Taqm, St. Pierre and Miquelon.



We traditionally selected our Saqamaw in a most unique way. We had only male Saqamaw and we selected him by looking at his character.

The prime character trait of a prospective Saqamaw was, “He is more Mi’kmaq”. This meant that he spoke the language well, “acted” like a Mi’kmaw and practiced and defended our culture. A man did not have to “run” to be Saqamaw. People, “Just knew” who the Saqamaw was.

When selected, our Saqamaw served us for life. Succession was hereditary through the male line but not necessarily so. Sometimes the “voice of the people” determined who our Saqamaw would be.

Previous to Thoma the II's death, he left the charge of his people to his own son-in-law, Francis Gregoire, in whose care he deposited the Ensigns of Royalty, charging him to act as their supreme until the choice is made and a Chief legally chosen to whom he shall deliver all the Royal property- it is said by some that a wish was expressed by the late chief to have his brother Christmas Thoma chosen as his successor, but it appears the family of the Googoes will lay claim to the throne they once held Dominion prior to Thoma the I, but for some reasons were supplanted by the Thoma family who owe their rise the voice of the tribe.” (Newspaper, Cape Bretonian, Sydney, January 23, 1834.)

This Government is hereditary; it is not, however, the son of the reigning Chief who succeeds his father, but the son of his sister, or the first Princess of the blood. This policy is founded on the knowledge they have of the licentiousness of their women. They are not sure, they say, that the children of the chief’s wife may be of the blood Royal, whereas the son of the sister of the great Chief must be, at least on the side of the mother”. (Letter from Father le Petit, Missionary, to Father d’ Avaugour, Procurator of the Missions in North America. At New Orleans the 12th of July 1730. Jesuit Relations Vol. LXVII.)

Pere Lejeune . . .says that, [the Montagnais] like the Hurons…preferred the son of a sister to succeed the Chief rather than his own child. So well were they aware of the immorality of their wives”. (Explorations in the interior of the Labrador Peninsula: the country of the Montagnais and Nasquapee Indians; Hind, Henry Youle, 1823-1908. 335 pages. London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green, 1863.)

They have thus developed into a custom the recital of their genealogies, both in the speeches they make at marriages, and also at funerals This is in order to keep alive the memory, and to preserve by tradition from father to son, the history of their ancestors, and the example of [380] their fine actions and of their greatest qualities, some- thing which would otherwise be lost to them, and would deprive them of a knowledge of their relationships, which they preserve by this means; and it serves to transmit their [family] alliances to posterity. On these matters they are very inquisitive, especially those descended from the ancient chiefs; this they sometimes claim for more than twenty generations, something, which makes them more honoured by all the others.” (The description and natural history of the coasts of North America (Acadia) Denys, Nicolas, 1598-1688.; Ganong, William F. (William Francis), 1864-1941. 657 pages. Toronto: Champlain Society, 1908.)

The traditional succession of the Mi’kmaq Saqamaq in Taqm came from the following families: Michau/Michel/Mitchell), Pequidalouet/Bernard, We’jitu/Isidore/Jeddore, and in recent history Joe and Lewis. There is also a connection to the Denny/Thomma chieftainship of Unama’kik. Some of these family members were in Taqm in 1793[1].

Based on ancestry and other research the following are the Saqamaq who ruled over Mi’kama’kik and Taqm. Included are some of their known and percieved relationships.

SAQAMAW IWANCHOU. Last year (1638) a Canadian Savage, the son of one Iwanchou, (We’jitu), a Savage Captain well known to the French, went to France and was very well received by his Majesty, at whose feet he laid his Crown of Porcelain beads as a sign that he recognized that great Prince, in the name of all these nations as their true and lawful Monarch. The King and Queen full of ardor for the salvation of these needy peoples showed him their Dauphin; and after many tokens of their kindness they made him a present of six suits of clothing truly royal. They were entirely of cloth of gold, velvet, satin, silk plush, scarlet, and everything else in keeping. (Jesuit Relations). This writer respectfully suggests Iwanchou may be another one of those mispronounced and miswritten L'nu names: “Weji'tu” maybe? For a more scholarly treatise on Saqamaw Iwanchou, see also Charles Martijn.

SAQAMAW DENIS. (Circa 1671) There is a reference that “The Chief of Richibouctou, named Denis is a conceited and vicious Indian. All the others of the Great Bay fear him[2]. Saqamaw Denis (Denny/Dennis) conceiveably is a relation/ancestor of the Denny and Thomma Saqamaq.

SAQAMAW ISIDORUS. (Circa 1716) In a references to a Saqamaw of Unama’kik, Saqamaw Isidorus in 1716[3], he is described as  “ very simply dressed, has the impudence to assert that he and the King of France are comrades and he suffers the presence of the French on the island only because of the annual gifts he receives”. “He speaks French and is a most wily man”. Isidorus, Isadore, Jeddore are the various European spellings of We’jitu.

We'jitu Isidore was a great Indian who died, it is said, at the age of 113 years. In his young days he saw a vision, and afterwards became the most powerful person in the tribe [a Kinap, with great physical strength]. Made the men of his tribe great in athletic sports, so that they won from men of other tribes, in competitions. His camping ground was on the east side of First Dartmouth Lake, about half way or so up the lake. [The] name We'jitu apparently related to Isidore, and the Indians Jeddore were descendents of his. Noel Jeddore of Halifax [?] was his grandson. Joe Cope's father, Peter Cope [born about 1816, died in 1913, aged 97 years] had seen We'jitu. (From Joseph C. Cope to Harry Piers, 14 January 1914. Nova Scotia Museum Printed File.) If Noel Jeddore was his grandson, his son must have been Ned Jeddore, also Ned Isidore. The Mi'kmaw word We'jitu means, "I found it," which may relate to his vision.[4].

Around this period a relationship to all the present Saqamaq of Unama’kik and Taqm reveals itself. That is to say, to the Googo, Denny, Jeddore and Mitchell Saqamaq and their descendents, the Joe, Marshall and other modern day Saqamaq. We know that relationships paid an immense part in who became early day Saqamaw.

We know the mother of Saqamaw Jeannot was Therese. They were in the same small group of people recorded in the 1708 census of Cape Breton as the Isidore family. Based on the ages and the fact that Saqamaw Jeannot did indeed become a Saqamaw later in life Therese was probably a daughter of the Isidore family.[5]

SAQAMAW MICHAU. Another relation shows up in 1751. DENIS MICHAU (DENNY MITCHELL/Michael Denny?) Chief of Isle Royale Mi'kmaq in 1750 died 1751. His grandfather [perhaps Jean Michau? (John Mitchell?)] had rendered great service to former king, Louis xiv, rewarded w/ letters of nobility. Denis left a widow and son who were placed in care of new chief Jeannot. (Charles Martijn). (Brackets: PJeddore)

It is very likely that this Michau is the ancestor of “Michel Agathe, Chief of Mi’kmaq of western Nfld.” and the Mitchell line of the west coast of Taqm (NUJIO’QONIK, (“Where The Sand Blows” - St. George’s Bay area) and the Denny Kji Saqamaq of Eskasoni, Unama’kik.

It is possible the widow of Saqamaw Michau may have been a sister of Saqamaw Jeannot.

There is indication of a Googo line of Saqamaq in the obituary of Thom Thoma, a chief of the Mi'kmaw Nation printed in the Cape Bretonian newspaper in Sydney on January 23, 1834. “Previous to Thoma the II's death, he left the charge of his people to his own son-in-law, Francis Gregoire, in whose care he deposited the Ensigns of Royalty, charging him to act as their supreme until the choice is made and a Chief legally chosen to whom he shall deliver all the Royal property- it is said by some that a wish was expressed by the late chief to have his brother Christmas Thoma chosen as his successor, but it appears the family of the Googoes will lay claim to the throne they once held Dominion prior to Thoma the I, but for some reasons were supplanted by the Thoma family who owe their rise to the voice of the tribe”.

The wife of Saqamaw Jeannot’s son Bernard was Mary Ann Googo. So this would give some credence to the Googo line having some connections to Chieftainship.

Between the reign of Saqamaw Michau and Saqamaw Jeannot, events that lead to Taqm becoming a separate district unfolded. From 1744 to 1761 the English had groups of soldiers or Rangers out roaming the countryside just to search for and kill our people. On October 2, 1749, Governor Edward Cornwallis issued a proclamation to destroy our people. He offered 10 guineas for every Mi’kmaw man, woman and child killed and later raised this to 50 pounds.

In 1755, the English began expelling our Acadian friends and allies. Earlier when it was not cool to be a Mi’kmaq our François friends sheltered us and now when it began to be uncool to be a Françoise, we returned the favor. Approximately one-third of the Françoise population moved to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and other French or Mi’kmaq territory such as Taqm.

In 1756 Governor Lawrence of NS proclaimed a bounty for the scalps of our people again: 30 pounds for males over 16 years, 25 pounds for a scalp of males over 16 and 25 pounds for every woman and child brought in alive. As a result, up to 1780 many of our Saqamaq simply “disappeared”. Saqamaw Jeannot survived by fleeing to the far reaches of our Mi’kmaw domain - Taqm.

SAQAMAW JEANNOT PEQUIDALOUET. Saqamaw Jeannot was born around 1705, probably in Unama’kik. He was our Saqamaw over Unama’kik and Taqm from 1750 to 1778. He had trapping areas in Taqm. The French governor of Cape Breton appointed him First Captain of the Mi’kmaw contingent at Louisbourg on November 8, 1750. He became Saqamaw of the former Mirliquêche Band which soon moved to Chapel Island. In 1758 he was wounded at he siege of Louisbourg. On July 1, 1761, he was one of the Saqamaq who signed the Treaty of Halifax, reaffirming the earlier 1725 Treaty. He was in Taqm much of the time between 1763 and 1778. [Jeannot Pekitaulit {Peguidalouet) and Bernard, Chiefs of Mi’kmaq of Cape Breton, on board Lark, off Codroy, September, renew Treaty of Peace with his majesty [a copy whereof I have already sent you]; Captain Samuel Thompson to Philip Stevens, Secretary to the Lords of the Admiralty, April 16, 1764. Admiralty Records, London, 1/2590.  Saqamaw Jeannot’s date and place of death is not known at this time, but he is believed to have lived to be 102 and may well have died in Taqm.

Taqm probably became a separate district from Unama’kik with the appearance of Saqamaw Michel. We recognize the following Lnu’k as being the Saqamaw of all of Taqm. This is different from the newer position of “Administrative Saqamaw” which has been thrust upon us by the “Politics” of 1986/87.

SAQAMAW MICHEL. There is a reference to Saqamaw Michel/Mitchell in the St. Pierre Baptism records. [July 4, 1848. Burial of Pierre Agathe, 13, son of Michel Agathe, Chief of Mi’kmaq of western Nfld. and of Louise]. Matthew Mitchell a descendent of the “old Chieftain Line” had a trapping line that included King George IV Lake and “elsewhere at will”.[6] Although dates vary, Saqamaw Michel may have died December 12, 1842. The commander [Alphonse-Joseph Desrousseaux, chef de la colonie] advised the Department that the Chief of a band from the west of Newfoundland known as King Michel Agathe” who came to Saint-Pierre with more than one hundred people of his tribe, at the beginning of this month, to make their annual devotions, was lost with all his people and goods, in a squall, while returning home.[7]

SAQAMAW MULISE (Maurice Louis). Saqamaw Maurice “was born in the year 1802 at Piona in Unama’kik. He first came to Taqm in 1815 A.D. He married a “Newfoundland woman” Sarah Bernard, in 1839. His Lordship Bishop (?) appointed him Chief in power in the year 1860 A.D. He “received his leadership from Second Grand Chief at Sidney, NS, on July 21, 1860”.

Saqamaw Maurice was given a gold medal as a sign of his position. On the medal is the inscription, “Presented to the Chief of the Micmac Indians of Newfoundland”. He died in 1880. “Of this said Maurice Louis one daughter still living at Conne (1936). Before his time there were two families living at Conne (namely Jeddore)”. He was married to Sarah Bernard. His parents were John Lewis and Nancy Basque. In one historical account he is referred to as Louis Morris.

It was while Saqamaw Mulise was in office that in 1870 when there was now a steady stream of immigrating nation’s peoples onto our coastal territory that our reserve was surveyed by Howley and established.

There is no account at present why Maurice Lewis was selected Saqamaw. He may have been an only son. Gisborno stated that two daughters of John Lewis went with Rev Bishop Dr. Mullock to St. John's to train as teachers. Unfortunately the city diet took its toll and they both died there.

The only indication as shown above is that he was appointed to the position by the Bishop of the day. His wife, Sarah Bernard, may have been descendent from the Peguidalouet line with a probable reversal of the Bernard Peguidalouet surname. Another possibility was that he was a descendant of the Innu line of Morris that married into the Lewis/Louis line or a descendent of the Meuse Chieftain line of PEI. The fact that there were two lines of the interchangeable Lewis/Louis surname adds some confusion to the investigation.

According to Howley, Saqamaw Mulise’s father was “one of the party of Micmacs who accompanied Cormack”. Of John Lewis, Gisborno said, he has the “Finest home in Conne”.

Saqamaw Mulise appears to have had seven daughters and one son, Lupe’n (Reuben). When the time came for passing on of the mantle of Saqamaw there was no doubt as to who would succeed him.

Saqamaw-to-be Lupe’n had a drinking problem however and although he was twenty-eight years of age at the time and plenty of life experiences to assume leadership, our people refused him until he mended his ways. We selected Joe Bernard as caretaker Saqamaw in the meantime.

SAQAMAW Joe Bernard. Saqamaw Joe was born in 1812 and died in 1900. He “ruled as Chief from Maurice’s death (1880) until Reuben took office (1900 A.D.)”. Kji Saqamaw John Denys (Denny) swore in Saqamaw Joe Bernard in 1880. According to the Holy Cross Annual, 2nd edition, he “…was a mountaineer Indian from Labrador. He wore a full flowing beard, which the Micmacs did not do”. He married a (Innu?) woman, (Hannah Ann John?). Bernard’s Brook is named after him. His sister Sarah was married to Maurice Lewis and this may have qualified him to act as qualify as Saqamaw, officially or otherwise, or he may have been related to the Lewis family /Louis family and the Morris line both, who appears to have been from Labrador.

SAQAMAW LUPE’N. (Reuben lewis; Millias spelt it as “Olibia”). Saqamaw Lupe’n was born in 1852. On the death of Saqamaw Joe, the “…nephew of Maurice Louis (Lewis), was made Chief at Sidney, NS by Grand Chief John Denny in the year 1900. Because of his drinking habit, Saqamaw Lupe’n was not invested as Saqamaw until 1907. Saqamaw Lupe’n died on December 1, 1918.

The selection of a Saqamaw to replace Saqamaw Lupe’n was not without some turmoil. There is some indication Saqamaw Lupe’n may have had an association with a non-native woman and had a son. This son could not become Saqamaw, as there were others who were “more Mi’kmaq”. Most of his sisters either had no children that we know of or had married men with non-native ancestry on one side of their family. Nancy Ann had married George Benoit (Of mixed ancestry). Catherine married a Matthews. (If she had any children, they would have been of “Royal Blood” and supposedly in line for the Saqamaw position. Christine had married a Nortcott but was having an association with Edward Poulette so the purity/certainty of her children’s blood was in doubt. Louise had married Peter Stride (Of mixed ancestry). Madeline was crippled and never married. Julia had married John Benoit (Of mixed ancestry). Saqamaw Lu’pen’s sister Harriett had married Steve Joe.

Although Steve’s mother was also a Benoit, Harriet’s child Antle was the “more Mi’kmaq” and so next in line to be our Saqamaw. It was not an unknown occurrence for the son of a Saqamaw’s sister to become Saqamaw. In ancient times a Saqamaw often preferred that the son of a sister would succeed him rather than his own child because there could never be any doubt of the bloodline of his sister, whereas as a result of the times the bloodline of his wife’s child may or may not be in doubt.

At this time our people had been pushed off most our coastal land in and around Baie d’ Espoir and into a single settlement, Miawpukek; and the office of Saqamaw, according to John N. Jeddore, was all but ignored except by traditionalists like the Jeddore’s and Joe’s and some elder settlers. The position of Saqamaw was not all that appealing and Antle was also too young to assume leadership. We selected Saqamaw Newell (Noel Jeddore) as another caretaker Saqamaw.

SAQAMAW Newell. (Newell Jeddore spelt his surname as Gietol; Millias spelt it as “Geodol”.- Both spellings are a corruption of the original We’jitu). Saqamaw Newell was born on December 18, 1865 and died on May 14, 1944. A direct descendent of Saqamaw We’jitu, he “was made Chief at Conne River, by Rev. P.F. Adams and Rev. S. St. Croix, P.P. on July 26, 1919” and according to an affidavit signed by (Joe Jeddore?), he recognized that his office would last until Saqamaw-in-waiting Antle was old enough[8] to assume leadership. He was married to Dinah Morris. His parents were Nicholas Jeddore and Ann Benoit.

Our people looked to Newell as Saqamaw and treated him as such. How Saqamaw Newell became an exiled leader is much better known than how/why he was selected to lead.

Saqamaw Newell had “Royal Blood”, being a direct descendent of the famous Mi’kmaw Saqamaw We’jitu. Although his bloodline was not pure Mi’kmaw, his lifestyle and leadership abilities made him “more Mi’kmaq” and thus well qualified to assume leadership. He was half-brother to Saqamaw Antle’s father Stephen. He was also Saqamaw Lupe’ns’ hunting buddy and at one time had saved him from a mauling by a wounded bear.

The fact that his leadership qualities made him “more Mi’kmaw” was proven quite quickly in his leadership. Around this time the position of Saqamaw had become pretty well entrenched to be that of a prayer leader instead of as a political position or dispute settler. Just five years into his leadership, circumstances came to such a head, that events would unfurl that would rock our Nation’s leadership to it’s very core.

His Grandson John Nick Jeddore best recounts this story:

The priest (Rev. Stanlius St. Croix) could only visit Conne irregularly and people didn't know when he would get here. As always prayer leaders in the village led prayers devotedly every time they were needed. Mi'kmaq prayed daily and Sunday especially.

Usually after prayers people went about their business, which often times took them away from the village. Now and again after prayers were said and people had gone about their business, Fr. St. Croix would show up.

Apparently Father St. Croix got upset about people holding prayer service. He said that every time he came to Conne to have mass, people wouldn’t show up. The reason they wouldn’t go to mass was because they  “Already had prayers”. So he told the people not to have any more prayers in the church.

When Saqamaw Noel Jeddore and some Mi’kmaq were discussing this, Noel said something like, “ If you stop the people from saying their prayers, they will get worse and worse, they will become more and more sinful each day and do bad things. They could even commit very serious sins like murder.”

{          } heard this and told Father St. Croix about it. Like any time a story gets told, sometimes the real meaning gets mixed up [as it gets passed from mouth to mouth]. {          } is supposed to have said something like, “Noel is down to Conne saying all kinds of things. He is even talking about people murdering people.”

However Father St. Croix interpreted {          }’s story, he apparently thought that since this was all about his orders that the people stop having prayers in church, then Noel could only have been talking about murdering him.

Father St. Croix was obviously thinking about this situation a lot. Later on  {          } was up to St. Alban’s and Father St. Croix told him to tell Peter, Noel’s son, to come up because he wanted to see him.

As the story goes, {          } then came back to Conne and starting at Burnt Woods he went into all the households and told the people there as well as everyone that he met “That you got to go to St. Alban’s. Father St. Croix wants to see you!”

Like all good and religious people, when your priest asks you to come see him you do so. So they all began walking up to St. Alban’s across the ice. Apparently Father St. Croix saw all these people coming across the ice up to St. Alban’s. He obviously thought the earlier story was correct, because here were coming all the Mi’kmaw, and they must be coming to kill him. He immediately sent out Phil Willcott and some other men, to make peace and probably slow down the people, while he telegraphed the Police.

Phil Willcott and them went out and met the people. When the people heard that Father St. Croix only wanted to see Peter, they all turned back.

Peter went to see Father St. Croix. Peter must have been able to explain to Father St. Croix what his father said. But Father St. Croix said to peter, “It’s too late now. I already summoned the police. You got to force your father to leave Conne because the police are coming to get him.”

In them days, if you summoned the police, they didn’t come right away. Depending on the time of the year, it could take them a few months to get there.

Peter came home and told all this to his father. Noel did not want to go. It wasn’t really a problem if he did go. His daughter Agnes and his son Victor were already up there. He himself like many of the people of that time was going back and forth to Nova Scotia all the time. Noel Louis used to go up there every summer.

For whatever reason, Noel finally decided to leave. So the following summer, in 1945 he left Conne forever and went to live in Exile in Eskasoni, Nova Scotia.

Saqamaw Newell was our last “official” Saqamaw of Taqm for the longest time. When he left Taqm and went to Escasonick (Eskasoni) “quite a few Mi’kmaq left with him”. He put the “Chief’s Medal” on the statue of St. Ann in our church. Oral history says that on his putting the medal on the statue, his words were: “I might be leaving, but the (Chief’s) medal stays”. Ironically, future traditional Saqamaw William Joe was born just a few months before Saqamaw Newell went into exile.

The position of Saqamaw was never “officially” filled again until 1975, but for the record the “Unofficial” Saqamaq for the following years were as follows. 

SAQAMAW ANTLE. (Andrew) Joe. (Born November 1889, died April 20, 1960). Saqamaw-to-be was never officially appointed as Saqamaw. Oral history says that the priest who now figured he had power and control with the leaving of Saqamaw Newell, asked Saqamaw Andrew to accept the Chief’s medal, but Saqamaw Antle refused. According to Holy Cross Annual, 2nd Edition, 1951: “Andrew Joe was next in line for the Chieftainship but this time he refused the honor, so the medal was hung on the statue of St. Ann…”

Joe Jeddore. (Born August 1883, died April 11, 1956). We looked upon Saqamaw Newell’s brother as our Saqamaw or prayer leader after Saqamaw Newell went into exile. However, he was never officially appointed to the position of Saqamaw either. It was Joe Jeddore that led the prayers in his own home when there was no priest in the community. He served our people from 1925 to 1954.

PIEL (Peter Francis) Jeddore. (Born May 1892, died 1971). Piel, Saqamaw Newell’s son was looked upon as Saqamaw after his Uncle’s death. Again he was never “Officially appointed”. He served our people from 1954 until his death in 1971 making many prominent public defenses of our rights to our land and resources. Saqamaw Piel also served overseas with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment during World War I.

Excerpts from various interviews with Saqamaw Piel Jeddore, regarding position of Saqamaw in Taqm:

(MUN Folklore interview in 1969 by Professor John Hewson)

That’s the last man wear that medal, my father. He was the Chief. That medal now hung up…Chief. That medal with it, local Mi’kmaq… The Chief going to put that medal on… New Year Day put that medal on. And everybody will go for that Chief, and kiss that medal and swear that it will be same rule. What they carrying on, next man, yes, same thing. The next twelve month come again, put it on again. And they’ll come and swear for another twelve month to carry on same…same rule”.

When I could remember, that’s, will we’ll say, man was 17, he could remember anything from that then, since I could remember. Maurice Lewis was the Chief. And ...no longer was Chief. When he died, Joe Bernard took the Chief. He was a Chief”.

“…So when Joe Bernard died, Reuben Lewis took the Chief, see. He was the Chief. Some length of time, well, a big flu came in. I was in the army then, 1917-18”.

And Reuben Lewis died and me father…not me father, Andrew Joe, Lewis he was. He was a Lewis too. Suppose to take it see. He belong to the Lewis see, all the time. Now he was too young. Now he hands it over to me father, see. He take it to be Chief. So me father was Chief until he went Sydney see. When he left the place and went Sydney to live”.

And that medal been there to St. Ann. Hang upon the child. And there it is now”.

And Bishop asked me three or four times, be Chief.  I said No. I wouldn’t be a Chief”.

The first man wear that medal, that’s Maurice Lewis. I was only seventeen. (1909). Then Joe Bernard, Then Reuben Lewis, then my father. [?].…been up in the church since old man went away; that’s forty years now”.

There was a long chain (on the medal)... But somebody robbed the chain”.

MUN Folklore interview in 1967 by Mrs. Stoker and Allan Brake, from west coast of Nfld.]

You have to read it for us”; [Peter Jeddore, reading…] “July the…[reads in Mi’kmaw]…July 12, 1920…Noel Jeddore appointed me Chief in Mi’kmaq Reserve…”

-“Now, he the one who went over to Nova Scotia?” “Yes, he was over in Nova Scotia, that where he was Head Man to the Chief, in Nova Scotia…he come here and he live here then until he move over to Sydney, that’s where he die, in Sydney”.

-“Then who followed him?” “Nobody…it was my place but I wouldn’t take it …”

The office of Saqamaw remained vacant to 1980. In 1972 while Melvin Jeddore and Martin Jeddore went to a meeting of the Union of Nova Scotia Indians to get information on Indian Affairs (Now INAC) to help the community. In the same year, this writer organized the community as a Local Improvement District, under the municipality’s act.

In 1973 John N. Jeddore was elected as the President of Conne River Native Council and in 1974 the Local Improvement District of Conne River was left by the wayside.

President John N. Jeddore. (Born 1922 -). He served us from 1973 to 1974. Saqamaw Peter’s son, he was, in a departure from traditional ways, “elected” our Saqamaw or President of a very non-traditional political organization in 1973. This was a time when we once again began to reassert our rights to our own political leadership. President John N. was never officially appointed and resigned in 1974, because “The structure being organized and the title of President did not fit Mi’kmaw society”.

President Walter John, (September 15, 1926 -), was our first Saqamaw or President of either Innu or Wabanuok descent. He served us from 1974 to 1975. He was elected in the same non-Lnu tradition. He resigned in 1975. He was never officially appointed.

SAQAMAW William Joe. (Born March 8, 1925, died December 23, 1982). Saqamaw Antle’s son, he was selected as Community Saqamaw in 1975 and re-selected in 1976. In 1978, during his term we decided that the position of Saqamaw would once again follow our traditional Mi’kmaw way. This meant Saqamaw Joe would be Saqamaw for life. Kji Saqamaw Donald Marshall “Officially” appointed him Saqamaw in 1980. The “Chief’s Medal” was once again worn by our traditional Saqamaw. He served until his accidental death in December 1982.

SAQAMAW Mise’l Joe. Continuing to follow tradition, with the slight departure of using secret ballot, Saqamaw Mise’l was selected Saqamaw on January 7, 1983. He serves as Saqamaw for all of Taqm, and presently also serves as the elected “Administrative Saqamaw” of MIAWPUKEK Nation, a Keptin in the Grand Council and spiritual leader of Miawpukek Mi’kmaq traditionalists. He was “re-selected” to the position of Community Saqamaw in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000.

In April 1988 conflict between high-level employees and the leadership of Miawpukek First Nation erupted and overflowed into the community. People took sides as the community and families split into two camps and “The Troubles” or as some referred to it, “The Politics”, began. It wasn’t until the selection on June 13, 1990, of Administrative Saqamaw Shayne McDonald, Great Grandson of Saqamaw Antle and nephew of Traditional Saqamaw William Joe that peace, to a degree, returned to our Nation.

Administrative Saqamaw Shayne’s selection was followed in June 1992, by the selection of Geraldine Kelly daughter of Saqamaw William Joe, as Administrative Saqamaw. On June 4, 1994 Traditional Saqamaw Mise’l was again selected to serve his people.

Supporting information to some of the above may be found in “an old book held by Joseph Jeddore” and mentioned in the yearly publication of St, Ignatius School, called Holy Cross Annual, Second Edition, 1951.

Additionally some information came from Newfoundland and It’s Untrodden Ways, by J.G. Millais, Longmans, Green and Co,., Copyright 1907 and reprinted by Abercrombie & Fitch Co., New York. Copyright 1967.



[1] Council Minutes for Cape Breton dated September 9th, 1794, at Sydney (Cape Breton Island), contains the following information: . Joseph Tomma said that he went last year [1793] to Newfoundland and prevailed upon these families to come with him to this island [Cape Breton].

[2] Nicholas Denny. The Description and Natural History of the Coasts of North America (Acadia) 1908:451

[3] Chancels de Lagrange. “Voyage made to the Isle Royale or Cape Breton Island in Canada in 1716 aboard the frigate Atalante commanded by M. de Courbon St. Leger”. In Revue D’Histoire de L’Amerique Francaise. Vol XIII, No. 3. 1959:424 (From The Old Man Told Us)

[4] From Joseph C. Cope to Harry Piers, 14 January, 1914. Nova Scotia Museum Printed File. (From The Old Man Told Us)

[5] General Census made in the month of November 1708, of the Indians of Acadia who reside on the East Coast…” by Pere LaChasse. Edward E. Ayer Collection, Ayer MS71, Newberry Library, Chicago. (From The Old Man Told Us)

[6]Beothuk and Micmac, Speck, p.222

[7] Emile Sasco and Joseph Lehuenen. Ephemerides des Iles St.-Pierre et Miquelon. 1970:12. Translated for The Old Man Told Us by Margaret Ann Hamelin.

[8] A signed statement of this information mentioned I the Holy Cross Annual, 1961, signed by Joseph Jeddore and witnessed by John Denny Jeddore and John Benoit Sr. was sent to P.W. Browne, D.D Ph. D., Department of History, Catholic University of America, 1406 Lawrence St., Brooklyn, USA.



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