The Micmac Indians of northeast North America are thought to have been the first native American society to encounter Europeans--the Norse VIKINGS who arrived about AD 1000. After John Cabot's visit in 1497, European fishermen and explorers regularly visited Micmac territory, which stretched from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to Newfoundland.
The Micmac speak an Algonquian language most closely related to CREE, but their closest political and social relations are with the ABNAKI. As expert canoeists and sea navigators, they base their economy on the resources of the sea and its inlets, supplemented by hunting and collecting of plant foods. The Micmac became the first Indians to serve as middlemen in the European fur trade with interior tribes of North America. Missionized by the French in the early 1600s, they remained steadfastly loyal to France for a full generation after the British conquest of 1760. Contemporary Micmac communities are located in much the same territory they occupied five centuries ago. In the late 1980s their population was more than 15,000.