Gigi:
A Short Photo Biography
of a Mi’kmaw Woman
Lucy Marie Celeste Charles Pinn
Northern Lights
AKA Aunty Loo & Nana
(190...
Gigi, as my brothers called my Great
Grandmother Lucy, lived throughout most of
the last century.

1924.

1972.
Hectanooga
1912.
L-R: Gigi &
mother
Maggie

She was born and raised in Hectanooga, a
small timber village in southwest Nov...
Her home in Hectanooga 1920.
L-R: Cousin Louise Bartlett,
Gigi, sister Elsie,
& mother Maggie
* Digby
* Hectanooga
* Yarmo...
Her family’s
wares earned
them respect
among the
village’s
Acadian residents; the Charles family
refused charity and share...
From Hectanooga
they would travel
to visit our
Bartlett and
Labrador relatives
on the Yarmouth
Reserve.

Yarmouth 1918.
L-...
Digby c.
1910 L-R:
Father Joe
&
grandfather
Sam
Labrador

Her Father, while living apart from other
Mi’kmaq, instilled cul...
Digby 1921. Gigi pictured in middle with friends

Gigi attended grade school in Port Joli,
where she remembers her father ...
Yarmouth 1919. L-R:
Gigi & sister Elsie

One day in 1920, her mother,
Maggie, and some relatives
boarded a passenger ship
...
In 1922, Gigi asked her
father if she could marry
a young man she met
near their home. Joe
asked his daughter to
rethink t...
While in Boston, her
mother had met Carl
Pinn, an Army engineer
of mixed Native
American, African, and
Anglo-European
desc...
After meeting
him, Gigi
abandoned the
idea of the
marriage back
home in favor of
marrying Carl
instead.
Boston 1924.
L-R: ...
Carl’s family was from Virginia.
While mostly African and Anglo, he
also claimed Cherokee ancestry, and
was said by his ne...
Unfortunately, of
her 17 pregnancies
with Carl, only 7 of
Gigi’s children
would live to
adulthood.
Gigi’s children, Boston...
Massachusetts 1926.
Gigi holding daughter Dora
& son Lionel

While raising her
children, she worked
shortly at a chocolate...
Jamaica Plains 1938.
L-R: Gigi & sister Elsie

Boston Indian
Council Logo.

Her sister, Elsie, brought her family to
Bosto...
At different times,
she returned
to her homeland.
In 1940, she
helped bury her
father in
Salmon River,
Nova Scotia.
Hectan...
In 1966, Gigi and her father were published
as sources in a book for their knowledge of
Mi’kmaw history and culture.

Bask...
Grandchildren, Jamaica Plains 1958.
L-R: Kenny, Little Lionel, Little Lucy,
Gigi, & Cheryl Ann.

Though, her life was now ...
Gigi’s children in
Jamaica Plains 1958.
Back L-R: Lionel, Jimmy, & Carl.
Front L-R: Chappy, Joan,
Dora, & Wally

She owned...
Jamaica Plains 1972. L-R: Gigi & granddaughter Nancy

After many years as family matriarch and
frequent bus trips to Bingo...
At the time of her
death, she was said
to have had only
$80 to her name,
because she always
supported people
in need, even...
She loved to dance and hug her children,
anchoring the home with strong
Mi’kmaw values. From on down the
generations, than...
Boston c. 1984. L-R: Granddaughter Carol Anne, Gigi, and granddaughter Robin
Jamaica Plains 1983

Jamaica Plains 1978
Nevada 1981. L-R: Gigi & son Lionel

Nevada 1981. L-R:
Grandson Lionel,
Gigi, and son Carl
Jamaica Plains 1983
Gigi’s family tree

Maggie
Labrador
Sam
Labrador

Gigi,
Lucy Charles

Harriet
Bartlett

Joe
Charles

John
Charles

Mary
Wi...
The Land Bridge Theory
As told by grandson Little Lionel
As a child I recall vividly my dear Nana, Lucy Marie
Charles, sha...
As I grew older and she felt I was ready to
learn and understand more she added that
the Mi’kmaq people actually rose up f...
Her pride, like her blood,
soaked through me. In time
it was a comfortable and
honorable thing to know
that my roots were ...
At one point he asks about the Mi’kmaq creation story and Nana
shared the story I had heard all my life, “We came from the...
After his over extended dissertation of
the land bridge theory he came to rest
and began to gather up his materials.
He se...
My mind was stunned; my life long belief
system was shattered. My heritage and my
culture were in question, my spirit hurt...
Special thanks to Elsie Basque, Lionel Pinn Jr, Marty Simon,
and Erica Plourde for their pictures and input.
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Gigi bio

  1. 1. Gigi: A Short Photo Biography of a Mi’kmaw Woman Lucy Marie Celeste Charles Pinn Northern Lights AKA Aunty Loo & Nana (1905-1985) By Travis Pinn Boston 1970 Hectanooga 1912. L-R: Mother Maggie Labrador, Father Joe Charles, & Gigi
  2. 2. Gigi, as my brothers called my Great Grandmother Lucy, lived throughout most of the last century. 1924. 1972.
  3. 3. Hectanooga 1912. L-R: Gigi & mother Maggie She was born and raised in Hectanooga, a small timber village in southwest Nova Scotia.
  4. 4. Her home in Hectanooga 1920. L-R: Cousin Louise Bartlett, Gigi, sister Elsie, & mother Maggie * Digby * Hectanooga * Yarmouth * Barrington Passage Her parents moved from their communities of Barrington Passage Indian Camp and Yarmouth Reserve so her father could earn the means at the local sawmill to build a permanent home and eventually pay for his two daughters’ educations.
  5. 5. Her family’s wares earned them respect among the village’s Acadian residents; the Charles family refused charity and shared their resources and skills with neighbors.
  6. 6. From Hectanooga they would travel to visit our Bartlett and Labrador relatives on the Yarmouth Reserve. Yarmouth 1918. L-R: Mother Maggie, Gigi, & cousin Giege Bartlett
  7. 7. Digby c. 1910 L-R: Father Joe & grandfather Sam Labrador Her Father, while living apart from other Mi’kmaq, instilled cultural pride in his daughters and worked with other local Mi’kmaw guides to pass on traditional knowledge of the land.
  8. 8. Digby 1921. Gigi pictured in middle with friends Gigi attended grade school in Port Joli, where she remembers her father hunting seal. She spoke Mi’kmaq, English, and French.
  9. 9. Yarmouth 1919. L-R: Gigi & sister Elsie One day in 1920, her mother, Maggie, and some relatives boarded a passenger ship bound for Boston and never returned. While Maggie’s connection to her husband and kids was not completely severed, the circumstances around her departure remain a mystery. Boston c. 1920s.
  10. 10. In 1922, Gigi asked her father if she could marry a young man she met near their home. Joe asked his daughter to rethink the idea and sent her to Boston to see about her mother, Maggie. Boston Art Museum 1922. Gigi
  11. 11. While in Boston, her mother had met Carl Pinn, an Army engineer of mixed Native American, African, and Anglo-European descent. Boston 1920. Carl Pinn
  12. 12. After meeting him, Gigi abandoned the idea of the marriage back home in favor of marrying Carl instead. Boston 1924. L-R: Husband Carl, son Lionel, & Gigi
  13. 13. Carl’s family was from Virginia. While mostly African and Anglo, he also claimed Cherokee ancestry, and was said by his nephew to be Monacan and his son to be Osage and Doeg. One genealogist even claimed the Pinns were originally Osage Doeg Yeocomico. In any case, he had a Yeocomico Monacan tough demeanor Virginia Cherokee and charm that attracted Gigi.
  14. 14. Unfortunately, of her 17 pregnancies with Carl, only 7 of Gigi’s children would live to adulthood. Gigi’s children, Boston, 1936. Back L-R: Lionel, Joan, & Dora Front L-R: Wally, Travis, & Little Carl
  15. 15. Massachusetts 1926. Gigi holding daughter Dora & son Lionel While raising her children, she worked shortly at a chocolate factory and for a longer period as a nurse aide in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts.
  16. 16. Jamaica Plains 1938. L-R: Gigi & sister Elsie Boston Indian Council Logo. Her sister, Elsie, brought her family to Boston in the 1950s. With Gigi’s help, Elsie started up the Elderly Program of the Boston Indian Council in Jamaica Plains.
  17. 17. At different times, she returned to her homeland. In 1940, she helped bury her father in Salmon River, Nova Scotia. Hectanooga 1939. Father Joe
  18. 18. In 1966, Gigi and her father were published as sources in a book for their knowledge of Mi’kmaw history and culture. Basketweavers Digby c. 1900. Back L-R: Friend Will Carty, cousin Rachel Pictou, cousin Clara Pictou, & unknown girl. Front L-R: Mother Maggie, aunt Fannie Pictou, grandfather John Charles, & grandfather’s 2nd wife Mahilia
  19. 19. Grandchildren, Jamaica Plains 1958. L-R: Kenny, Little Lionel, Little Lucy, Gigi, & Cheryl Ann. Though, her life was now in Jamaica Plains where she raised her children and soon looked after her 21 grandchildren.
  20. 20. Gigi’s children in Jamaica Plains 1958. Back L-R: Lionel, Jimmy, & Carl. Front L-R: Chappy, Joan, Dora, & Wally She owned a three-story home and rented the bottom floor to a close family. Her son, Wally, occupied the top floor for some time. She lived in the middle floor with her other son, Carl, who took care of her in her old age as she lost her eyesight.
  21. 21. Jamaica Plains 1972. L-R: Gigi & granddaughter Nancy After many years as family matriarch and frequent bus trips to Bingo halls in New Hampshire, she passed away at the age of 79.
  22. 22. At the time of her death, she was said to have had only $80 to her name, because she always supported people in need, even when she was in need herself. Nevada 1981. Gigi
  23. 23. She loved to dance and hug her children, anchoring the home with strong Mi’kmaw values. From on down the generations, thank you, Gigi. Digby 1912. L-R: Gigi & father Joe
  24. 24. Boston c. 1984. L-R: Granddaughter Carol Anne, Gigi, and granddaughter Robin
  25. 25. Jamaica Plains 1983 Jamaica Plains 1978
  26. 26. Nevada 1981. L-R: Gigi & son Lionel Nevada 1981. L-R: Grandson Lionel, Gigi, and son Carl
  27. 27. Jamaica Plains 1983
  28. 28. Gigi’s family tree Maggie Labrador Sam Labrador Gigi, Lucy Charles Harriet Bartlett Joe Charles John Charles Mary Williams
  29. 29. The Land Bridge Theory As told by grandson Little Lionel As a child I recall vividly my dear Nana, Lucy Marie Charles, sharing stories of our Mi’kmaq heritage. Some stories stood above others. One in particular had to do with the origins of our Mi’kmaq people. The creation story as Lucy shared it. It was complicated and detailed. There was Glooscap and Martin involved; rocks, islands, fish and little people too. The one thing that really stuck was our physical manifestation. I can still hear her voice moving back and forward between her native language and English, “We came from the earth.” As a young impressible child that made a significant impact on me, “from the earth”. All I could relate it to was the dying process, we all go back to the earth but coming from the earth was a new, if not disturbing, concept. She recognized my hesitation and reinforced her proclamation whenever the subject came up, “We came from the Earth”. The earth she referred to was Nova Scotia, Canada.
  30. 30. As I grew older and she felt I was ready to learn and understand more she added that the Mi’kmaq people actually rose up from the earth, made up of rock, dirt and minerals of all kinds. From that earthly mixture came the first Mi’kmaq and one of our first gifts from the Creator was the ability to recognize that which created us. We were also given the gift of intelligence and wisdom. The previously “disturbing” concept left me early as a teenager and into adulthood. Coming from the Earth was and is a good thing. It roots us to our homeland, it gives us our identity. Nana would smile with pride and note the, “We are still in the same place from where we came from, the same good earth.” She would add, “None of the other tribes can say that. They have been pushed up and out of their homelands but us Mi’kmaq are still here!”
  31. 31. Her pride, like her blood, soaked through me. In time it was a comfortable and honorable thing to know that my roots were as deep and as real as the soil I walked and the rivers I swam in. Things were just cool as they could be, that was until the day the college guy came to my Nana’s house. He was there to interview her. I am thinking he was an anthropologist or an historian. He wanted to talk about the Mi’kmaq histories and legends. She obliged the young man with all his questions. I sat, as a protector, at the kitchen table with them. Art by Alan Sylioy
  32. 32. At one point he asks about the Mi’kmaq creation story and Nana shared the story I had heard all my life, “We came from the Earth”. After she had finished the young man leaned back in his chair, shaking his head in disbelief, rolled his eyes and stated, “Mrs. Pinn that is only a children’s story and fable of your people”. He tossed his pencil on to his notepad and went on to testify about the true creation story, as he understood it. The Adam and Eve concept and, more importantly, the land bridge theory. I shuffled in my seat as I prepared for the worst, a tea cup being slung across the kitchen, a broom coming out of the closet or a slap up side his intellectual head. Nana never hesitated to reinforce her unyielding belief system on anyone. The story of “We came from the Earth” has been handed down from generation to generation, as long as our family has been here. I have never heard anyone, with such conviction, challenge her. This young man unknowingly was doing just that. He went on to explain the scientific realities of the facts. The African and Asian connection, the extended land bridge as well as the travels and evidence of the coming of the Mi’kmaq to this place, he called the new world. Nana just sat there. I was stunned. Occasionally she would smile back at the long winded young man and nod her head in apparent understanding.
  33. 33. After his over extended dissertation of the land bridge theory he came to rest and began to gather up his materials. He seemed a little uppity about his stance and evidence. It bordered on disrespect but still Nana smiled in an almost complacent posture. He thanked my grandmother for her time and noted that he was glad that he could get her “squared away” about the creation and the origins of the Mi’kmaq people. He said his goodbyes and as I was escorting him to the front door, he turned one more time to the aged elder and ask, “Do you understand and accept the land bridge theory now Mrs. Pinn?” In her special way she replied, “Yes I do young man, it all makes since to me now. All that evidence and proof they found along the bridge makes it real.”
  34. 34. My mind was stunned; my life long belief system was shattered. My heritage and my culture were in question, my spirit hurt! I reached the front door of my Nana’s house and as I open to free my life of this man who had brought such an unchallenged revelation into it, I heard my dear Nana’s quite voice once again, “Yes, I believe in the land bridge therapy, except for one thing…” The young man stood outside the front door and turned to hear her “exception”. “Write this down on your paper”. She pointed with her finger, “There was a land bridge but, we went that way!” I looked for a moment and then began to smile with understanding. I then turned toward the opened-mouth young man just outside the door and then simply close the Digby 2013. door in his shocked face. When I turned L-R: Grandson Little Lionel, sister around my Nana was heading back toward Elsie, & great grandson Travis the kitchen. “That was helpful,” she noted, “I’m glad he stopped by.” I was almost laughing out loud. The truth be told.
  35. 35. Special thanks to Elsie Basque, Lionel Pinn Jr, Marty Simon, and Erica Plourde for their pictures and input.

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