When European explorers first landed in what is now the Canadian Atlantic Province of New Brunswick, they encountered a vast, multi-faceted nation of aboriginal peoples known collectively as the Mi’kmaq. The Mi’maq Nation is subdivided into more than a dozen subdivisions, one of which is the Elsipogtog, or Elsipogtog First Nation.
Today, the Elsipogtog First Nation maintains more than 3,000 members and resides in a largely rural area called Big Cove. The Elsipotog were formerly called the Big Cove Band. Big Cove is about 9 km west of Rexton, New Brunswick. The Big Cove area also comprises the Richibucto Reserve. This Reserve is located within Kent County where Kouchibouguac National Park is located.
The literal translation of Elsipotog is “river of fire.” It should be noted that there are alternate identity names for the Elsipotog, one of which is L’sipuktuk, the latter being a Francis-Smith variation.
As part of the Mi’kmaq, the Elsipotogs were members of what is known as the Wabanaki Confederacy, which was composed of five tribes that spoke the Algonquin language.
It was the French who established the first European relationship with the Mi’kmaq and the Elsipotogs. The Mi’kmaq fought with the French against the British in the French and Indian War, which began in 1754 and lasted seven years, although in the long term, the relationship of these native Canadians fared for the worse in their overall dealings with European powers.
The Mi’kmaq have a fascinating culture, intriguing mythology and religious beliefs. An important figure to them is Glooscap, which is one of the names for a god or demigod they consider to be the “Creator Being.” Glooscap (which has many other spellings) translates to: “The man who came from nothing.” The Mi’kmaq believe Glooscap brought them the knowledge of good and evil, and taught then to use stoneware, use of tobacco and much more.
Today the Mi’kmaq and the Elsipotog First Nation people have a keen interest is maintaining their place in history, and in preserving their highly unique and deep culture, while living as modern Canadians.