Original artwork by David Brooks depicting a person spearing eels
Painted in commemoration of the David Marshall Jr eel fishing case.
One legend, "the Storm Maker" (a mighty bird), tells of the plentiful supply of eels and other fish in the sea which were the main source of food for the Mi’kmaq people during the "hungry moons of winter". This was the case until the arrival of the Storm Maker. The Storm Maker caused all the fish and eels to be swept out to sea by the wind created through the flapping of its wings. A Mi’kmaq tricked the Storm Maker and bound up its wings to prevent it from driving the fish and eels out to sea. But, a scum covered the water so that the people were unable to see the eels and fish. At this point, the Storm Maker’s wings were unbound by the Mi’kmaq after giving the promise not to cause such strong winds. The Storm Maker did create enough wind, though, to blow away the scum and allow the people to once again see the eels and fish (Robertson 1969:46-48).
In the beginning, the waters of Pet-koat-kwee-ak were clear and sparkling. But one day Eel swam down from the headwaters, his great body pushing everything before him into the cold of the great bay. Turtle told Glooscap that something had to be done about Eel. So Glooscap instructed Lobster to fight Eel. Lobster drove Eel out into the bay, but so great was the struggle that the once-clear water was disturbed and muddied forever.
The Legend Of The Tidal Bore
In the days of Kluskap the river water was clear and fresh. Until a monster Eel swam down the river and pushed all of the fishes and all the fresh water into the salty bay.
Turtle told Kluskap of the cruel hardships that resulted. Kluskap gave great powers to Lobster, who grew much in size and strength and fought the evil Eel. The long battle stirred up much mud and many waves far up the river until the Eel was killed.
And even today in Kluskap's bay and on the muddy river, with an elbow bend, the battle scene takes place twice a day.
Kluskap's People: Stories of the Mi'kmaq
The six bilingual legends included here are dramatizations selected from the many traditional Mi'kmaq stories that would have been shared during family gatherings and activities. They were recorded entirely in the Cape Breton community of Eskasoni during June 2006, but all are based on traditional Mi'kmaq cultural beliefs that have evolved over thousands of years.
All songs, chants, drums, flute and rattle by Joel Denny, Kathy Denny and Beverly Jeddore.
LISTEN to Legends of the Mi'kmaq (Runs 00:54:32): http://www.cbc.ca/aboriginal/2009/02/legends-project-3.html
Share Your Stories
Biography of the artist:
David’s artistic accomplishments include several murals, Community Centre, Indian Brook, Micmac Native Friendship Centre, Maritime Native Artisans’ Co-operative, The Mastadon Ridge Interpretive Centre, Stewiacke, Hants East High School, Milford, Shubenacadie Elementary, painting for Statistics Canada poster, painting for Public Works Canada poster. David’s paintings are in the collections of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Eskasoni School Board, Grace Maternity Hospital, National
Indian Art Collection, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Native Council of Nova Scotia, and the Union of Nova Scotia Indians.
Over the years, David has had exhibitions in Halifax, David Brooks: Spirit Worlds, at the Sandra Carter Gallery, StreetsmArt, Gottingen Street, Maritime Native Artisans’ Co-operative, The Church on North Street, David Brooks and Alan Syliboy, Manuge Gallery, Atlantic Region Indian Art Juried Exhibition, Manuge Gallery, Blackstone Gallery in Toronto and Accent Gallery in Ottawa.
Says David, "When I paint, I do it as much for other people, as myself. I hope that my paintings can be a source of strength for our people. I try to reach into the distant past, when we were a strong people, and find ways to express that strength for people today. Usually I find that strength in the sweat lodge or the shaking tent. I do not start a painting until I have felt what it will mean. If we can locate strength from the past, we can overcome the problems of the present. I hope my paintings can suggest a path to the future."
David is from and resides in Indian Brook, Nova Scotia.
David Marshall Jr
In August 1993, Donald Marshall Jr., a member of the Membertou First Nation, was stopped for fishing in Pomquet Harbour in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia, and his equipment was seized. Marshall caught 210 kilograms of eels, which he sold for $787.10 and was then charged with fishing without a licence, selling eels without a licence and fishing during a closed season. He claimed he was allowed to catch and sell fish by virtue of a treaty signed with the British Crown.
Marshall said he was catching and trading fish just as the Mi'kmaq people had done since Europeans first visited the coast of what is now Nova Scotia in the 16th century.
In September 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that Donald Marshall Jr. had a treaty right to catch and sell fish. The Court found that Mi'kmaq and Maliseet people on the East Coast continue to have treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather to earn a moderate livelihood. These rights flow from the Peace and Friendship Treaties signed in 1760 and 1761 between the British Crown and the ancestors of the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet. As the Supreme Court described it, earning a "moderate livelihood" didn't mean an open-ended accumulation of wealth, rather it was securing the "necessaries." Further, the Supreme Court noted that these treaty rights are held by the community as a whole. This is because the treaties were negotiated by groups of Aboriginal peoples, not by individuals.