Daniel N. Paul

Daniel N. Paul

Dr. Daniel N. Paul, C.M., O.N.S., (1938–present) Mi'kmaq Elder, author, columnist, human rights activists. Paul is perhaps best known as the author of the book We Were Not the Savages. Paul asserts that this book is the first such history ever written by a First Nation citizen.[1]

Among his many awards, Paul has been conferred with the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia. He received from Université Sainte-Anne an honourary Doctor of Letters Degree.[1]



Prior to Paul’s birth, his parents Sarah Agnes and William Gabriel were re-located from Saint John, New Brunswick to Indian Brook, Nova Scotia. Paul was born at Indian Brook; the eleventh of fourteen children. During his childhood he earned money through selling the Star Weekly, Liberty Magazine, seeds, greeting cards, and painted the interior of houses. At age 14, he left home for Boston. Eventually returning to Nova Scotia, he married twice and had three children.[1]

In 1971 he began work for the Department of Indian Affairs, and from 1981 to 1986 was the Department's Nova Scotia District Superintendant of Lands, Revenues, Trusts, and Statutory Requirements.

A community activist, he was the founding Executive Director of the Confederacy of Mainland Micmacs (CMM) from 1986 to 1994, and while in this position, initiated fundraising for a new community centre for the Indian Brook Reserve. During his tenure at CMM, Paul also started a trust fund for the Confederacy, which would support financing legal issues for the six Bands associated with the organization. His leadership helped resolve the Afton Band's 170 year old treaty claim to old Summerside property.[1] In addition, he worked to resolve land claims for the Pictou Landing Band. He has also served on Nova Scotia's Human Rights Commission, and on the Nova Scotia Department of Justice's Court Restructuring Task Force, among other provincial commissions, as a Justice of the Peace for the Province. He has also written bi-weekly op-eds for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald newspaper.

On January 14, 2000, he received a millennium award from the city of Halifax for his contributions. In 2001, Paul was involved with a CBC documentary entitled "Growing Up Native", and in Bear Paw Productions' (Eastern Tide’s) "Expulsion and the Bounty Hunter”.


Paul has written numerous articles in both newspapers and academic journals. His most well known work is We Were Not the Savages, which is now in its 3rd edition.[1]


"Because of their belief that European civilizations were superior, and therefore all others were inferior or savage, these writers reported the superior human rights practices of Amerindian civilization as if they were abnormal. Later, using these biased records as gospel, many White authors have written works about Mi'kmaq civilization that do not present a true picture. Their efforts were probably taken with sincerity and honesty, but many, if not all, are lacking in two respects: they ignore the Mi'kmaq perspective on civilization and fail to appreciate that the values of the two cultures were in most cases completely opposite... More contemporary authors who have written about Amerindian civilizations have also used European standards to evaluate the relative merits of these cultures. Thus their efforts are flawed." -- We Were Not The Savages, p. 15.

Comments by other academics

"Daniel N. Paul's We Were Not the Savages is a brilliant and painful account of how the Mi'kmaqs were treated by the Europeans. When will Canada and the United States begin paying reparations to Mi'kmaqs and other Tribes for what we did to them over the centuries? Daniel Paul makes a convincing case that the time is now! It is a fact-filled read that will make North Americans of European descent very uncomfortable. I highly recommend it." - Thomas Naylor, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Duke University

"We Were Not the Savages is unique, in chronological scope and the story it tells, covering the last three centuries of Mi'kmaq history in detail. Prior to the appearance of this book it was common for historians to downplay or even deny the violence inflicted on the Mi'kmaq people by European and Euro-American colonizers. This work, more than any other piece of scholarly production, has headed off that consensus at a pass. Scalp-bounty prices are now recognized as a historical problem worthy of investigation. Finally, it is important to recognize that we have far too few histories written by Native American authors - very few indeed that cover as extensive a time span as this book does." - Geoffrey Plank, Associate Professor of History, University of Cincinatti.


Paul’s assertions in his publications have caused controversy with numerous scholars of colonial history.[2] Most contemporary scholars of the colonial period in Nova Scotia document the illegal means in which local British authorities confiscated native land. The work of these scholars has been used to address issues of legal reparation.[3] Paul agrees with these scholars that Mi'kmaq land was taken illegally. In contrast to these scholars, however, Paul asserts that the primary injustice against the Mi'kmaq was a difference in the warfare practiced by the Mi'kmaq and the New Englanders. Paul asserts that Mi’kmaq leaders did not support frontier warfare against Protestant families in Nova Scotia. He states that the Mi’kmaq people who did participate in these practices were simply mercenaries for the French.[4] Historians Geoffrey Plank and Stephen Patterson, however, offer evidence that indicates some of the Mi’kmaq leadership did support frontier warfare against Protestant families, such as Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope.[5] The two most often cited examples of this frontier warfare by Mi’kmaq people against Protestant families are the Raid on Dartmouth (1751) and the Raid on Lunenburg (1756). Paul himself identifies that Mi'kmaq warriors had their own reasons - a part from the French - for resisting the British.[6]

Historian John Ried asserted that even after the French were defeated in the region in the Siege of Louisbourg (1758), the Mi'kmaq remained the predominant military force in the region and their ability to "inflict damage on the British settlements and outposts had been graphically demonstrated."[7] Paul does not comment on the Mi'kmaq military strength before the Fort Louisbourg fell, however, afterward he concludes: "with their sources of arms, ammunition and supplies cut off, the Mi'kmaq could not continue the war for long", and that the Mi'kmaq made no more attacks until they were forced to sue for peace — the La Have Mi'kmaq in a 1760 treaty, and the rest in the "Burying of the Hatchet Ceremony" of 1761. Paul also cites an account of an unarmed Mi'kmaq village being annihilated in 1759 in Digby County. [8]

Paul's work has been the basis for Mi’kmaq colonial figures like Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope to be elevated. Paul celebrates Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope for negotiating the November 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty with the British, "in a desperate attempt to prevent the complete annihilation of his people".[9] According to historian William Wickens the only written evidence is Cope signed the Treaty on behalf of ninety Mi’kmaq at Shubenacadie.[10] Further, these historians suggest no other Mi’kmaq leaders would endorse the treaty and that Cope himself destroyed it six months after it was ratified.[11] Cope was a warrior who effectively engaged in frontier warfare. The British did not formally renounce the Treaty until 1756.[12]

Despite the short-term fate of the 1752 Peace Treaty with hostilities continuing soon afterward, some Nova Scotians continue to celebrate the signing of it annually on Treaty Day. As Paul also notes, in 1985, the Supreme Court of Canada finally affirmed and recognized its validity.[13] In his book, Paul cites in extenso a journal entered under oath by eyewitness Anthony Casteel regarding a resumption of hostilities the following spring, and concludes by noting

"In the 1980s, descendants of the British colonials [i.e., the Crown] attempted to nullify the Treaty of 1752 in the courts by claiming that Chief Jean Baptist Cope had violated the terms of the treaty during the Casteel incident. But they conveniently overlooked the facts that the English, by their refusal to prosecute two murderers, were in clear violation of the treaty, and that Chief Cope had had very little involvement in the affair."[14]

At the same time Paul seeks to elevate Mi’kmaq colonial figures, he also seeks to vilify British colonial figures such as New England Ranger John Gorham and Nova Scotia Governor Edward Cornwallis. Paul objects to both Gorham and Cornwallis on the basis that they employed bounty setting for scalps against Mi’kmaq families, often employing Mohawk mercenaries. Paul reduces Gorham to a “bounty hunter” and judges Cornwallis as “inhuman”, “ruthless”, "Genocidal Monster".[15] In contrast, historian John Grenier indicates that John Gorham was held in high regard by the New England government, that had already issued scalping proclamations of its own. Gorham was commissioned a captain in the regular British Army in recognition of his outstanding service. He was the first of three prominent American rangers - himself, his younger brother Joseph Gorham and Robert Rogers - to earn such commissions in the British Army.[16] As well, far from being vilified in his life time, after Cornwallis left the province, he was eventually promoted to Lieutenant-general and became the Governor of Gibraltar.

Further, Grenier indicates that frontier warfare was the standard practice between New Englanders and New France along with their native allies for over a century before Gorham and Cornwallis arrived in Nova Scotia to protect the first Protestant families in the colony with the founding of Halifax.[17] For over a century, the Canadiens and their native allies were killing Protestant families in the New England colonies. (Perhaps the most famous example was the Raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts.) At the same time, there were many New England governors who declared bounties on the scalps of Canadian families and their native allies. When Gorham and Cornwallis tried to establish the first Protestants in Nova Scotia (1749), frontier warfare was already well established in North America, as the Mi’kmaq people quickly demonstrated with their Raid on Dartmouth (1749).[12] In We Were Not the Savages, Paul outlines only the history of the New England and Nova Scotia governors' use of scalping proclamations against the Mi'kmaq. He specifically quotes Massachusetts Governor William Shirley's scalping proclamation of 1744, that of Governor Cornwallis in 1749, and that of Nova Scotia Governor Charles Lawrence in 1756.[18] He also states that there is evidence some Mi'kmaq had even been targeted as early as in the Governor of Massachusetts' scalping proclamation of 1694.[19]

Paul asserts that his work is largely responsible for British colonial figures’ names either being removed from landmarks or prevented from being used to name current landmarks.[20] In We Were Not..., he mentions his participation in a successful 1998 campaign to change the name of a Nova Scotia Highway that had been named after Gorham.

See also

Canadian Who's Who - Paul was entered in the publication in 2004



  • John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. Oklahoma University Press.2008
  • John Grenier. The first way of war: American war making on the frontier, 1607-1814 Cambridge University Press. 2005
  • Geoffrey Plank, “The Two Majors Cope: the boundaries of Nationality in Mid-18th Century Nova Scotia”, Acadiensis, XXV, 2 (Spring 1996), pp. 18–40.
  • Geoffrey Plank. An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign Against the Peoples of Acadia. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2001
  • Geoffrey Plank. "New England Soldiers in the Saint John River Valley: 1758-1760" in New England and the Maritime provinces: connections and comparisons By Stephen Hornsby, John G. Reid. McGill-Queen's University Press. 2005. pp. 59–73
  • John Faragher. A Great and Nobel Scheme. Norton. 2005. p. 405.
  • Patterson, Stephen E. 1744-1763: Colonial Wars and Aboriginal Peoples. In Phillip Buckner and John Reid (eds.) The Atlantic Region to Conderation: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1994.
  • William Wicken. Mi'kmaq Treaties on Trial: History, Land, and Donald Marshall Jr. University of Toronto Press. 2002.
  • Andra Bear Nicholas. Settler Imperialism and the Dispossession of the Maliseet, 1758-1765. John Reid and Donald Savoie. (eds). Shaping An Aenda for Atlantic Canada. Fernwood Press. 2011
  • John Reid. Empire, the Maratime Colonies, and the Supplanting of Mi'kma'ki/ Wulstukwick, 1780-1820, Acadiensis 38: 2 (Summer/ Autumn 2009), 78-97.


  1. ^ a b c d e http://www.danielnpaul.com/index.html
  2. ^ See National Post, July 5, 2011 "300 Year feud plays out in Halifax"
  3. ^ See William Wickens, Andrea Bear Nicholas and John Ried as well as Plank and Grenier.
  4. ^ Globe and Mail. 24 Jun 2011 – A statue of Lord Edward Cornwallis is seen in a Halifax park on June ...
  5. ^ Patterson, Stephen E. 1744-1763: Colonial Wars and Aboriginal Peoples. In Phillip Buckner and John Reid (eds.) The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1994. p. 148
  6. ^ http://www.danielnpaul.com/AbbeJean-LouisLeLoutre.html
  7. ^ John Ried. "Pas Britannica or Pax Indigneua?" John Ried. Essays on Northeastern North America: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. University of Toronto Press. 2008. p. 180
  8. ^ We Were Not the Savages, pp. 147-158.
  9. ^ We Were Not the Savages p. 121; see also [1]
  10. ^ William Wicken. Mi'kmaq Treaties on Trial: History, Land, and Donald Marshall Jr. University of Toronto Press. 2002. p. 184
  11. ^ Plank, 2001, p.137
  12. ^ a b Plank, 1996, p.33-34
  13. ^ We Were Not the Savages p. 122.
  14. ^ We Were Not the Savages, pp. 125-138.
  15. ^ For Paul on Cornwallis see http://www.danielnpaul.com/Col/1995/GovernorEdwardCornwallis.html ; For Paul on Gorham see: http://newscotland1398.ca/99/gorhamj.html
  16. ^ Grenier, 2005, p. 76
  17. ^ See National Post, July 5, 2011 "300 Year feud plays out in Halifax"
  18. ^ We Were Not the Savages, p. 102-3, 110, 146, 182.
  19. ^ We Were Not the Savages, p. 71.
  20. ^ http://www.danielnpaul.com/

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