Passamaquoddy Oral Traditions

Tomah Joseph used Koluskap’s gift of birchbark to create etchings that illustrated the oral traditions of his ancestors. Through these drawings, he was able to remember, retell, and record for future generations, moments in Wabanuwok’s earliest history.

Tomah Joseph
19th Century
CANADA Southern New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Southern New Brunswick, CANADA
NB 990.2.2
© 2007, Heritage Branch, Province of New Brunswick. All Rights Reserved.


I sit down and beat the drum, and by the sound of the drum, I call the animals from the mountains. Even the great storms harken to the sound of my drum.

I sit down and beat the drum, and the storm and thunder answer to the sound of my drum. The great whirl-wind ceases its raging to listen to the sound of my drum.

I sit down and beat the drum and the spirit-of-the-night comes and listens to the sound of my drum. Even the great wind-bird will cease moving his wings to hearken to the sound of my drum.

I sit down and beat the drum, and the spirit-under-the-water comes to the surface and listens to the sounds of my drum, and the wood-spirit will cease chopping and hearken to the sound of my drum.

I sit down and beat the drum and the great Abbodumken will come out of the deep and hearken to the sound of my drum. The lightening, thunder, storms, gales, forest-spirit, whirlwind, water-spirit, and the spirit-of-the-night-air are gathered together and are listening to the sound of my drum.


I sit down and beat the drum, and by the sound of the drum, I call the animals from the mountains. Even the great storms harken to the sound of my drum.

I sit down and beat the drum, and the storm and thunder answer to the sound of my drum. The great whirl-wind ceases its raging to listen to the sound of my drum.

I sit down and beat the drum and the spirit-of-the-night comes and listens to the sound of my drum. Even the great wind-bird will cease moving his wings to hearken to the sound of my drum.

I sit down and beat the drum, and the spirit-under-the-water comes to the surface and listens to the sounds of my drum, and the wood-spirit will cease chopping and hearken to the sound of my drum.

I sit down and beat the drum and the great Abbodumken will come out of the deep and hearken to the sound of my drum. The lightening, thunder, storms, gales, forest-spirit, whirlwind, water-spirit, and the spirit-of-the-night-air are gathered together and are listening to the sound of my drum.

(As recorded by J.D. Prince, 1901)


© 2007, Heritage Branch, Province of New Brunswick. All Rights Reserved.

Edward Paul demonstrating Maliseet music and drum songs, 1913.

Edward Paul demonstrating Maliseet music and drum songs to William H. Mechling at St. Mary's, New Brunswick, 1913.

William H. Mechling
c. 1913
CANADA Southern New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Southern New Brunswick, CANADA
24972
© 2007, Canadian Museum of Civilization. All Rights Reserved.


Demonstating Maliseet music and drum songs.

Frank Sapier (sitting) and Edward Isaac Paul (standing) demonstrating Maliseet music and drum songs to William H. Mechling at St. Mary's, New Brunswick, 1911.

William H. Mechling
c. 1911
CANADA Southern New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Southern New Brunswick, CANADA
16435
© 2007, Canadian Museum of Civilization. All Rights Reserved.


Chief John Augustine performing "Song for When People Get Together".

Historical accounts describe ceremonial music associated with weddings, with funeral and mourning rites, as well as with social dances including the snake dance, greeting dance, and trading dance. Chief-making ceremonies also included singing.  Chief John Augustine of the Metepenagiag First Nation (Mi'kmaq) provides a sample of such music, recorded at Red Bank, New Brunswick, in 1953..

Traditional
John Augustine, Metepenagiag First Nation (Mi'kmaq)
c. 1953
CANADA Atlantic Provinces, Atlantic Provinces, CANADA
© 1953, Canadian Museum of Civilization Archives. All Rights Reserved.


Marriage Song for a dance after wedding ceremony, 1953.

Historical accounts describe ceremonial music associated with weddings, with funeral and mourning rites, as well as with social dances including the snake dance, greeting dance, and trading dance. Chief-making ceremonies also included singing. Chief John Augustine of the Metepenagiag First Nation (Mi'kmaq) provides a sample of such music, recorded at Red Bank, New Brunswick, in 1953..

Traditional
John Augustine, Metepenagiag First Nation
c. 1953
CANADA Atlantic Provinces, Atlantic Provinces, CANADA
© 1953, Canadian Museum of Civilization Archives. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Learners will understand the importance music plays in the lives of First Nations' peoples in New Brunswick.

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