By Ken Coates
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Additional info for The Marshall Decision and Native Rights: The Marshall Decision and Mi’kmaq Rights in the Maritimes
Elaborate fish weirs demonstrated extensive knowledge of tidal pools and fish movements. Large shell middens, particularly around the Bay of Fundy, document the extensive use of shellfish by the first peoples. The inhabitants clearly understood their surroundings and made substantial use of the natural resources available to them. The key to First Nations life was the movement among seasonal sites. Virginia Miller, an ethnohistorian, described the seasonal shifts as follows: In the spring, the Micmac settled in villages along the coast.
Fm Page 18 Monday, September 25, 2000 9:33 AM 18 The Marshall Decision and Native Rights concerns of many Canadians that the conflict and controversy along the coast could erupt into violence and civil unrest. It was also clear, as debate raged about the decision, that their ruling was being interpreted in widely different ways by proponents and opponents of Aboriginal rights. It must have galled the judges to see their words, concepts, and explanations twisted, turned, and presented in so many different ways.
In the process, they established the historical and cultural foundation for the indigenous people who, many centuries later, met the first Europeans to venture into their lands and waters. Many First Nations people reject the “scientific” interpretations of the Aboriginal occupancy of North America. They point to the fact that archeological evidence of early habitation is sketchy and incomplete and that there are substantial differences of opinion within the academic community about the timing, direction, and nature of the initial occupation of the continent.