The largest Indigenous population in Mi’kma’ki (mee-gah-mah-gee: Atlantic Canada) is a group called the Mi’kmaq (meeg-mah). Up until recently, many people couldn’t (and didn’t try) to pronounce the words properly. These people commonly called the Mi’kmaq “Micmacs” or “Indians.”
In an effort to be more respectful and human, many people are now attempting to use proper language and spelling. But the Mi’kmaw language is tricky and unless you know the basic grammar rules, you could end up with egg on your face.
So! In light of #NationalAboriginalDay, here’s a crash course:
Mi’kmaq is spelled with a “q” when using the word as a plural noun (”many Mi’kmaq live in Cape Breton”) or referring to the group as a whole (”the Mi’kmaq of Atlantic Canada”).
Mi’kmaw is spelled with a “w” when using the word as an adjective (”this is Mi’kmaw land,” “she is a Mi’kmaw woman”) or as the name of the language (”he/she speaks Mi’kmaw”).