So, my family and I are Bras d'Or Indians. We descend from three lines that I know of so far. Those of Francois Lejeune, Gabriel Lejeune (Sr.) and Angus Benoit.
Here in the United States, where I am living now, I almost never hear the word Indian when people refer to Native Americans. I don't think there is anything wrong with the word, it's just easy to confuse them with the people from India, and perhaps it doesn't give an accurate representation of the people themselves. It seems that the people of the Bras d'Or use this term because it is historical. Everyone who lives there knows the Bras d'Or Indians.
In the United States, we hear Native American as the politically correct term, but this is deceptive as well. Imagine if we suddenly decided to call every one who lives in Europe, Native Europeans. We could just talk about them as a whole people with no respect to traditions, customs, or religious beliefs. There is no difference between Spain and Finland anyway, right? This is exactly what we do to native people when we use the term Native American, but this seems to be the popular term regardless of this fact.
I like what Canada does much better. They refer to the People of the First Nations.The Constitution of Canada goes so far as to differentiate its aboriginal people as being Indian, Metis and Inuit, although rights are still being determined for the Metis. I'm not saying its perfect, but at least in this name, it says that they were here first and that there is more than one nation. Aboriginal people in North America come from many nations with specific traditions, beliefs and histories. They are not all the same. My nation is the Mi'kmaq nation. I belong to a band within that nation known as the Bras d'Or Indian Village Band Association.
The Little Bras d'Or area has two bands. The Bras d'Or Indian Village Band Association is located in Little Bras d'Or itself and the other band, the Bras d'Or First Nation, is located in Sydney Mines. Both of these bands are seeking recognition by the federal government of Canada. The question is not whether the people here are Mi'kmaq. The question is if the government will see them as Indians.
I must admit that I am baffled by the policies of the government on this one. Take Newfoundland for example. Native people have been there long before the first accounts of European explorers. Didn't they drive away the Vikings? Only in the past few years was an agreement drafted to make an official landless band in the eyes of Canada. They have been a part of Canada since 1949, but are only being recognized as Indians now.
The formation of the agreement in principle in Newfoundland provides hope however. At one point in the history, some of the Bras d'Or Indians left Bras D'or and moved to Newfoundland. Now their descendants will gain official status. We are the same people.
Here are some links to the Bras d'Or Indians. These sites are worth checking out.