Plant Fibre Textiles from the Hopps Site: BkCp-1 (Curatorial Report #59)

Ruth Holmes Whitehead

Abstract


Micmac and Maliseet women had developed, by the time of the first European contact with their people, a highly complex and diversified cordage and textile manufacture, using a variety of floral and faunal materials. Animal products included rawhide, tendon thread, feathers, moose and caribou hair, porcupine and bird quills, and the skins, furs and hide of everything from moose and caribou, rabbit and weasel, to fish and eels. The use of faunal material in textiles has been researched rather more extensively than that of floral material. Ethnographies of Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Maine--covering Maliseet and Micmac territory-- indicate that there were a wide range of plants in use: cattails, reeds, rushes, nettles, Indian hemp, sweetgrass, spruce root, cedar bark, basswood bark, yellow-birch fibres, and a number of unidentified grasses and shoots of trees and shrubs. A number of these plant usages have been confirmed by their presence, as worked fragments, in at least five archaeological sites across the Maritimes. To date, however, there are only four published reports on the use of plant materials based on analyses of actual objects--either as they occur in sites or for the area generally. All four are incomplete or flawed.

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Keywords


plant fibres; Malecite; Maliseet; Micmac; Mi'kmaq; First Nations; textiles

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