Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash (1945-1976)

Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash (1945-1976) Mimac Activist and Educator April 3, 2000 Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, a Micmac Indian rights activist, was born on March 27, 1945 in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, the third daughter of Mary Ellen Pictou and Francis Thomas Levi. In 1949 her mother married Noel Sapier, the son and brother of traditional Micmac chiefs, and the family moved to Pictou’s Landing where the family was raised in poverty. Anna lived in a house with no heat, water, or electricity and subsisted largely on the wild turnips and potatoes harvested by her family. Although Anna’s stepfather was unable to improve his daughters’ financial lot, he provided them with other resources that Anna would treasure for the rest of her life. He taught the girls to value discipline and, most important, instructed them about the traditional ways of their people. In 1962 Anna married fellow tribesman Jake Maloney and moved to Boston. She found work in a factory and gave birth to two daughters, Denise and Deborah. Pictou began to volunteer her time at the Boston Indian Council, and organization that provided support and services to Indians living in the city. Some of these new city dwellers had difficulty coping, especially when they were unable to find jobs or fell victim to drug and alcohol abuse. She counseled these troubled youths and, placed them in jobs or treatment programs. In the early 1970’s, she taught at the Teaching and Research in Bicultural Education (TRIBE) in Maine. This program provided Indian dropouts with a second chance at an education. Pictou helped develop a curriculum that aimed to instill confidence and cultural pride in the students by teaching them about Indian traditions and history. Anna enrolled in the New Careers Program at Wheelock College in Boston, and worked at the Ruggle’s Street Day Care Center in Roxbury. It was then that she w…

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