First Nations: Community Life: Unique Culture and Heritage

Experience the ancient Mi’kmaq culture that has existed at its life source for over 3,000 years.

Eel Ground principally occupies lands adjoining the City of Miramichi, New Brunswick, and members of the two communities have no doubt interacted from the time of earliest European settlement. About 1648, Nicolas Denys, Sieur de Fronsac, established a fort and trading post nearby, "on the North side of the Miramichi, at the forks of the river". His son, Richard Denys, was placed in charge of the fort and trading post. In 1688 Richard describes the establishment as including about a dozen French and more than 500 Indians.

The Band was officially recognized by the British in 1783, soon after the French defeat in the Seven Years War.[1]

No doubt the First Nation population had long preceded Denys' "establishment", and present-day inhabitants of Eel Ground would largely be descended from Richard Denys' immediate neighbors. For the Mi'kmaq, the nearby junction of the Northwest and Main Southwest branches of the Miramichi River had long served as a natural meeting point.

Although officially recognized in 1783, Metepenagiag has been home to a Mi'kmaq community for over 3000 years[2], making it the oldest community in New Brunswick. Evidence for the age of the community was discovered in 1972 by Joseph Mike Augustine (a.k.a. Joe Mike.). After reading a magazine article about an ancient burial ground in Arizona, Joe Mike recalled a similar mound near his home. The artifacts found at the site (the Augustine Mound), and a second nearby site (the Oxbow site) demonstrated that Metepenagiag had been continuously inhabited for over 3000 years[2], and that the community enjoyed trading relationships with other First Nations communities, stretching as far west as the Ohio River Valley[2].

The Oxbow and Augustine Mound Sites have been declared National Historic Sites by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Over 100 additional archeological sites have been discovered in the area since 1975