JUNE 24, 1610


On Saint John the Baptist Day, Henri Membertou, Sagamo or Grand Chief of the Mi’kmaq tribe situated near Acadia in present-day Nova Scotia, Canada, became the first native leader to be baptized by the French as a sign of alliance and good faith.  Membertou was given the baptismal name Henri, after the late king of France, Henry IV.  Membertou first met the French when they arrived to build Port Royal in 1605.  At the time of his baptism, he may have been well over 100 years old and recalled meeting Jacques Cartier in 1534.  He is described as having maintained a beard, unlike other Mi’kmaq males who removed all facial hair.  He was larger than the other men and despite his advanced age, had no grey or white hair. Also, unlike most Sagamo who were polygamous, Membertou had only one wife, who was baptized with the name of “Marie.”  He died at Port-Royal, now Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, on September 18, 1611.

Source:  Lucien Campeau, “Membertou,” Canadian Encyclopedia of Biography, 1966.  Retrieved 7/4/2019, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/membertou_1E.html
Engraving:  Hibbert Binney (1766-1842), circa 1791.  Mi’kmaq Encampment.  Nova Scotia Museum.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 100 years or less.

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