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An Evaluation Of "Micmac Customs And Traditions"

1415 words - 6 pages

In his article " Micmac Customs and Traditions", Stansbury Hager ethnographically records some of the traditions and customs of the Micmac people. After a short introduction including the methods of collecting the data, as well as information about its source, Hager jumps right into a description of some Micmac traditions and customs. He begins with a description of "a system of communication [for use] while in the woods" (Hager 1895:31) followed by an extensive description of a complex board game, named "wŏltĕstômkwŏn", played by the Micmac (Hager 1895:31-35). Following this is a description of the Micmac's version of football named "tooâdijik" (what we now refer to as soccer)(Hager 1895:35-36). Hager then goes on to describe the serpent dance, named "choogichoo yajik", which is then related to similar practices and beliefs held by other native groups of North America. He points out that the similarities are likely indicative of a somewhat shared heritage among the native groups. Hager exemplifies this point with folk-tales, one of which closely resembles another told by the Chippewa natives (Hager 1895:40). A small conclusion is included at the end of this article containing a short commentary on how, "in spite of the years of research [...,] the knowledge of these myths is rapidly disappearing" (42). In whole, this article is reminiscence of the historical particularism viewpoint.Although it is difficult to place this article into a specific school or tradition, I believe it comes from historical particularism (typical to the school of American anthropology) because, other than the fact the article is published in "The American Anthropologist" (a possible, yet unreliable, indicator), it deems a focus on the traditions and customs of a group of people as a valid study. Another indicator that further indicates a categorization of historical particularism is the author's use of comparison with other native groups of North America as he describes the similarities between legends told by the Micmac and other native groups. In doing comparisons such as these, Hager illustrates the likely connections between the groups and the shared heritage and past. In addition to this, he includes the example of the game of football which illustrates how new activities can be introduced and how they gradually become part of the culture. Though the article makes no note as to its origin, I could guess that priests or missionaries may have introduced it as a replacement for banned traditional practices.This article is primarily ethnographic as it focuses on the description of the Micmac, however it is partially ethnologic in the sections about the Serpent Dance and Micmac folklore. In the example of the Serpent Dance, the existence of the rattlesnake symbol among native groups is discussed and related to evidence of shared folklore and dances. In further support of this, the folk story of the water fairies is told which has been found to...

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