The Mi'gmaq and Kouchibouguac
Prior to park creation in 1969, the area that is now Kouchibouguac National Park had a long and rich history. The Mi’gmaq have centuries-old spiritual and cultural connections with Kouchibouguac. The name Kouchibouguac is of Mi’gmaq origin and means “river of the long tides.”
Kouchibouguac National Park lies within Mi’gma’ki, the traditional hunting and gathering territory of the Mi’gmaq. The earliest archaeological evidence of Indigenous peoples inhabiting and harvesting the natural resources in Kouchibouguac dates back approximately 4,000 years. There are 26 known Indigenous archaeological sites in the park, spanning from the Maritime Archaic period to the park’s establishment in the late 1960s.
Since time immemorial, the Mi’gmaq have relied on the abundant seasonal marine and land resources for their survival; the sea alone provided over ninety percent of their annual foodstuffs. Indeed, the respectful use of the resources (natural life) was and continues to be the foundation for the Mi’gmaq life-style, social order, and economy.
Due to the existence of sophisticated trading networks that had developed over millennia, the first Europeans to arrive in the area that is now Kouchibouguac found willing trading partners in the Mi’gmaq. Over the succeeding centuries, Mi’gmaq territory, especially the rich coastline, was gradually overtaken by European settlements and intense competition for the region’s resources. European diseases were particularly devastating for the Mi’gmaq; within one hundred years of contact, seventy five percent of the population was gone, along with much knowledge and history. By the 1800s, the Mi’gmaq were left with mostly small “reserves” set aside for them, which had few resources.
Against incredible odds, the Mi’gmaq have maintained their cultural traditions, while adapting to the modern world. Many still speak the Mi’gmaq language, which is also being taught to the children. More opportunities than ever are available to the youth. Today, the Mi’gmaq maintain strong cultural connections to Kouchibouguac National Park. Mi’gmaq interpreters at Kouchibouguac carry on the tradition of educating and inspiring through the oral histories and wisdom of the Elders as passed down through generations.