Tuesday, August 14, 2018

History of Basques and Mi'kmaq

Under the heading of cool academic conferences, I note (courtesy of H-Canada) next month's Knekk Tepaw, a two-day exploration at Cape Breton University/Unama'ki College in Sydney, Nova Scotia, focussing on connections between Mi'kmaq and other indigenous North Americans with Basques from southwestern Europe

From Cabot's time to Champlain's (roughly 1500-1600 CE), most European engagements with eastern North America were driven by Basque whalers and fishers., and the whole period and its cultural effects remain fairly obscure, despite some notable historical and archeological projects.

This conference seems a little more, ah, edgy, than that, with a predominance of papers addressing paleo-history (43,000 BCE being among the dates mentioned) and hints of speculation about a Basque-area "refugia" during the glaciation of Europe, and possible migrations across the Atlantic in deep pre-history. Well, hmmm.

By the conference's second day, and particularly the last afternoon, however, attention returns to to the 16th century and explorations of evidence about Basque-Indigenous contacts from Mi'kmaki to the St Lawrence River Valley.  Quebec and Parcs Canada and Mi'kmaq researchers begin to replace global pre-historians on the program, and my interest returns.

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