To the Mi'kmaq, storytelling was a means of entertaining people and sharing information. Their stories were more like story cycles; a storyteller could take episodes from one and insert them into another to highlight certain points.

The "Mi'kmaq Women Who Married Star Husbands" is a good example. This well-known story was carved into the rocks of Kejimkujik Lake in Nova Scotia. It tells of two sisters who point out stars they want to marry. To their surprise, they wake up the next morning with new husbands and find themselves in the World Above the Sky. Seeing how upset they are, their husbands let them return to their world, but give them strict instructions to follow.

The Mi'kmaq see their world as having many levels of existence. The "persons" that inhabit it include humans, animals, unusual rocks, mountains, stars, thunder and wind. Power — how it is gained, used and lost, and the consequences of having it — is the central theme of almost every story. It was both respected and feared by the Mi'kmaq.

The art of storytelling has been passed down from generation to generation. The Mi'kmaq loved to hear stories, some of which went on for hours. It was a way of enjoying each other's company, as they sat listening, laughing, and smoking their pipes.

Selected Bibliography

Hayward, Patricia. Early Man in Nova Scotia. Halifax: Nova Scotia Museum, 1973.

Robertson, Marion. Rock Drawings of the Micmac Indians. Halifax: Nova Scotia Museum, 1973

Whitehead, Ruth Holmes. Six Micmac Stories. Halifax: Nimbus Publishing and Nova Scotia Museum, 1992.

Whitehead, Ruth Holmes. Micmac, Maliceet and Beothuk Collections in Europe and the Pacific. Halifax: Nova Scotia Museum, 1989.

Whitehead, Ruth Holmes. Stories from the Six Worlds. Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 1988.

Whitehead, Ruth Holmes. Micmac, Maliceet and Beothuk Collections in Great Britain. Halifax: Nova Scotia Museum, 1988.

L2246.1 - Collection: Carole Tuplin

White ash
Beating time on a noisemaker, a drum, or even a hollowed-out log, would signal to the community that storytelling was about to begin.

? L2246.2 - Collection: Carole Tuplin

Reproduction of a Petroglyph
This petroglyph illustrates the story of two Mi'kmaq women who married stars. The figure of the Star Husband was carved into the smooth Cambrian rock of Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia. A sharp-tipped stone arrowhead, a piece of quartz, bone, or antler was used to cut into the rocks of Kejimkujik.

? CMC VIII-B:1400ca

Carved Stone
Found at McGowan Lake, Nova Scotia
Some of the designs and symbols most commonly found on petroglyphs are: parallel bands, triangles (represent life-giving energy), circles (represent the sun), eight-pointed stars, double-curve motif.