Brandon Maloney
This white moose, considered a spiritual being among the Mi'kmaq, was gunned down by hunters in Nova Scotia on October 3. Millbrook First Nation member Brandon Maloney, happening upon the hunters as they were driving away with their prize, snapped this photo to bear witness.

Hunters Slaughter Sacred White Moose; Mi’kmaq Outraged, Mourning

Martha Troian

The white moose had wandered the woods near Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, for years, sacred to the Mi’kmaq and thus undisturbed.

But when a handful of non-indigenous hunters came along last week, their first instinct was to kill it. They not only slaughtered the precious animal, but also posed gleefully for photos, which they posted immediately on Facebook and other social media sites.

Brandon Maloney saw the shocking spectacle as he stepped out for coffee on the Millbrook First Nation, near Truro, Nova Scotia. The hunters were parked outside, the moose heaped in the back of their truck. He approached the three men, who confirmed they had shot and killed the white moose.

“I’m a big moose hunter myself,” said Maloney, who is from nearby Indian Brook First Nation, a Mi'kmaq community. “But I don't think they realized the seriousness of this.”

He gathered what words he could.

“I said, ‘We don't shoot them,’ ” he told Indian Country Today Media Network.

The hunters told Maloney that the moose had been easy to take down, that they’d shot it in the Belle Cote mountain range on the western side of the Cape Breton Highlands. Maloney's stomach turned yet again as they said that even the moose’s hooves were white. He snapped a photo to bear witness.

“Here they are sitting on a Native reserve with a white moose at the back of their truck at Tim Horton’s, showing off,” Maloney said. “They were all happy and excited at first, they were bragging.”

The sacredness of a white moose can only be compared to that of a white bison.

RELATED: White Buffalo Calf Named Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy Amid Fire, Water and Thunder

The wanton killing and skinning of a white buffalo calf in Texas last year, and the subsequent death of its mother, tore through Native and non-Native hearts in Indian country.

RELATED: More Details of Sacred White Calf Slaughter, Locals Push for Hate Crime Status

Similarly, the white moose is only rarely seen by the Mi'kmaq people, and it is off-limits to Mi’kmaq hunters. But no one has to tell them that.

“A moose like that represents the highest quality of a Native person,” said Emmett Peters, a Mi’kmaq Elder who lives in Afton, Nova Scotia, though is originally from Prince Edward Island. “Every time I see something like that [moose] it reminds me of integrity, courage, everything great in a leader.”

When hard times are coming, these white-spirited animals will appear. Peters was quick to mention the dispute taking place in New Brunswick over shale gas testing between indigenous people, the provincial government and SWN Resources Canada, the oil and gas company that is conducting the tests. The dispute has been intensifying since early summer, with a group called the Mi'kmaq Warrior Society blockading Route 134 near Rexton, in Kent Country, New Brunswick.

RELATED: First Nation Moves to Evict Fracking Co. From Lands Held in Trust

Peter MacDonald is a mammal biologist with the wildlife branch of the Department of Natural Resources of Nova Scotia. After viewing the photos, he confirmed the animal was indeed either albino or leucistic (lacking in the pigment melanin). Albinism is caused by a recessive trait, and such animals are very rare.

Shooting a white moose is not illegal, according to Nova Scotia hunting regulations. But killing such a creature is unfathomable to the Mi’kmaq, and they have always steered clear of this spiritual being, said Mi'kmaq hunter Danny Paul.

"We know the significance and we've been teaching that to the non-Native population for almost 500 years—about the importance that this and other white animals played in our lives," Paul told CBC News. "We are not to harm them in any way, shape, or form because they could be one of our ancestors coming to remind us of something significant that's going to happen within our communities."

The posting of photos of the dead moose on the Internet sparked even more anger. After a Nova Scotia shop, Hnatiuk's Hunting & Fishing Ltd., displayed several pictures of the moose with the hunters by its side on the store’s Facebook page, the image was shared more than 1,000 times. But the majority of comments reflected people’s shock, grief and disapproval.

"It was so disrespectful having seen it put on the social media, and it's been an outcry,” Paul told CBC News. “Our people are outraged."

After word got out about the moose’s death, Millbrook First Nation Chief Bob Gloade posted a comment on the Facebook page of Hnatiuk’s Hunting & Fishing Ltd., reaching out to the owners, and later spoke to them by phone.

“The White Moose killed is unacceptable to the Mi'kmaq people and brings bad luck to the hunter(s) who killed that animal,” Gloade wrote. “To do the proper thing the hide of the animal requires a special ceremony to prevent bad luck and harm to the Hunters. Many Mi'kmaq people are disturbed by the actions of hunters who most likely don't understand our culture. We must protect what is sacred and do the right thing to protect the land and life on it.”

The hunters and the shop owners, now informed of the moose’s significance, are working with Gloade to bring spiritual closure. They are handing over the moose hide to the Mi’kmaq, who will conduct a ceremony to honor the animal.

“Hnatiuk's would like to thank DNR and Chief Bob Gloade for calling us today,” one of the owners posted on the shop’s Facebook page on October 7. “Chief Bob was able to share the significance of the spirit moose with me and some of the ways in which our business and the hunters could help to bring peaceful closure. The hunters have been very cooperative, and we at Hnatiuk's are seeing that the hide is prepared asap (as requested) in order for it to be ready for the Mi'kmaq ceremonies.”

Gloade expressed his thanks and said Peters would conduct the ceremony. Above all, Gloade and others said, this should be viewed as an opportunity to educate people as well as pay tribute to the moose’s sacrifice.

“The next step is to bring a peaceful closure and honor the Spirit of the Sacred Moose,” Gloade wrote on his own Facebook page. “The time is to educate people on the Spiritual Significance of this animal and others to ensure that people understand the importance to the Mi'kmaq people so things like this don't happen.”

RELATED: Grieving Mi'kmaq Begin Four-Day Ceremony for White Moose Gunned Down by Trophy Hunters

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normanf's picture
Submitted by normanf on
how sad & senseless. its amazing there still are people who don't give a damn about the American indian & their spiritual beliefs

Rocky Susshine's picture
Rocky Susshine
Submitted by Rocky Susshine on

John Carter's picture
John Carter
Submitted by John Carter on
Hunters act like killing animals takes skill. Men who hunt are cowards are only feel good when they kill something that cant shoot back.

peter 's picture
Submitted by peter on
the irony of bunch of white guys killing a white moose. the moose was worshiped for 500 years. what a holes. i understand peoples need to be in nature. but why when seeing such a majestic animal which they knew theyve never seen before. compelled them the need to kill it. why? why couldn't they shoot the animal with a camera. geezus these guys are the type of kids you grew up with who saw an ant hill for the first time and decide it would be cool to just step on the ant hill. like an ahole. they never did anything to you.

Jim F's picture
Jim F
Submitted by Jim F on
Very sorry for your loss, anyone who doesn't know not to harm a wonderful animal like this has no business owning weapons. It has been shown many times that anyone can buy a rifle or shotgun and those people should stick to targets. To be a hunter is to be a responsible person interacting with nature. The picture I saw of the person posing with......, it sickened me, again I am so sorry to hear of this tragic event.

Jenny Bron .'s picture
Jenny Bron .
Submitted by Jenny Bron . on
Er zullen altijd mensen zijn die zichzelf helden vinden als ze z,n prachtig dier afschieten .dan hebben ze er weer een trofee bij.Een triest gebeuren .

Ann Beal's picture
Ann Beal
Submitted by Ann Beal on
There are things you kill, and things you don't kill. Any precious, rare animal is not one you preserve it. You don't have to have Native American beliefs to know that, if you've got half a brain and don't lust for blood that is. This is horrific and I'm very sad for the Mi'kmaq people that this happened. I grieve with them.

Shane Sekiya's picture
Shane Sekiya
Submitted by Shane Sekiya on
These guys are flipping idiots. They were hunting somewhere they didn't understand the local culture and general information. They saw the white Moose and thought, what an awesome trophy. Morons, and now they are sorry? Too late pals.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Euro Americans: Nothing is Sacred to you, not water, Mother Earth, are God'sCreations. You wont be happy until everything is destroyed.

Nancy Golio's picture
Nancy Golio
Submitted by Nancy Golio on
The slaughter of this magnificent Moose is a sin...The God's are not pleased that something so proud and rare has been taken by ego and ignorance...Such a sin as this cannot go unpunished, no matter what they have done to change things...The damage is done and nothing can bring back this rare and beautiful and special creature....There should be no mercy for the actions of these men in their complete absence of morals and vision...They need to be punished.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Messed up shame on you give respect for such an Amazing animal you should have known better you you are not blind!

lts's picture
Submitted by lts on
sacred?... its funny how so many americans are getting on the "sacred" bandwagon! will hold the beliefs of native American sacred and support the demise of Christian America! just kinda ironic to me how one can hold such a double standard! help us all..

Newt man 's picture
Newt man
Submitted by Newt man on
I get so sick of seeing these pictures of fat camo dressed hicks. If you google pretty much any animal like mountain lion or bobcat every 3rd pic is some redneck holding up a dead one. No respect or appreciation

Assataque's picture
Submitted by Assataque on
Somehow, I think you are missing the point. This isn't about the spirit and uneducated people. This isn't about hunting either. Blaming the killers is like blaming a young elephant for killing a human. The people who shoot the spirit moose are ignorant=uneducated in one simple matter- respect. People have no respect for anything, globally! This is Indian network you are posting on. The tribes of North America were a subject to genocide. Those who survived, had their children forcefully taken away from their tribes to educate in superior American school system. It was done under watchful eye of government. What awful disrespect to the equal species! The generation after generation sees further degradation of values and respect. Looking at every continent the situation is very similar today. But this isn't totally about respect either. People are bored. Land has been taken away from farmers, machines do the work. People watch tv get fat, and get worked up by some far away issues. They offer no solution but emotions. Bored people do things to amuse themselves. Bored people without respect are like stray bullet. Some kill the spirit moose others go and shoot kids in school. Blogging sorrows about this moose isn't going to change anything. You really have to walk the talk. The level of human disassociation from animals has passed it's allotted boundaries. We are all part of the same ecosystem and it is about the time to respect Mother Earth. For those who call the moose killers hunters, please don't. The hunting as a trade is gone. It's more like a drinking party for testosterone junkies. It makes me sick to walk through hunting managed area after such parties. Hundreds of deer carcasses piling and waiting for removal... Smell from hell. Way to show animals our superiority. If you really care for this issue make a pact with yourself to do respectful things for others for next week... Month... Year. Show you care and teach others to do the same.

JH's picture
Submitted by JH on
What's worse is that they were hunters who were licensed to kill a particular animal and they had no idea that what they killed was sacred and rare. So what does "licensed" mean?

Paul Aho's picture
Paul Aho
Submitted by Paul Aho on
I hope those who find sport in killing other creatures find sorrow in this story and find better ways to spend their time on earth.

Paul Aho's picture
Paul Aho
Submitted by Paul Aho on
I hope those who find sport in killing other creatures find sorrow in this story and find better ways to spend their time on earth.

Pat harben's picture
Pat harben
Submitted by Pat harben on
This has saddened me. I live in Bury St Edmunds in East Anglia in England. The patron saint of my town, St. Edmund, who died at the hands of the Norsemen is connected with a white sacred Wolf who lead to where this saint's remains lay. In English folklore, a White Creature can be a vision that leads to the disclosing of an as yet undisclosed crime and so to justice prevailing. I am sad for the death of the moose which was so totally unecessary and without excuse. Pat Harben

Casandra Lopez
Casandra Lopez
Submitted by Casandra Lopez on
Hunters are fucking disgusting. I understand if your have to kill to survive, but shit, we live in 2013, we have a freekin grocery store down the block! This is just for the game, for the feeling of killing and overpowering an animal. That sickens me. They'll cut off it's head, stuff it, and nail it to a plaque. Then they'll tell their buddies, Hey, look what I killed, I'm a fucking courageous macho guy. Praise me for slaughtering this animal. The mentality is disgusting and unattractive in anyone. We will kill every living thing on this planet in the end including ourselves because of our lack of respect and compassion for life.

labacagrma's picture
Submitted by labacagrma on

metis22's picture
Submitted by metis22 on
"Hunters" are the only people who can go armed with intent to kill and still call it an "accident." This moose story is only a glimmer of the trajedy of wanton killing/murder. It sounds like the hunters killed the moose just because it was 'different' - says something about their pack mindset. But how many murders have been declared "hunting accidents" just because they happened in the woods. I'm thinking of 2 East coast murders, one of a woman shooting & murdering her husband because she "thought" he was a bear (she got off free) and the other of a dentist shooting and murdering a young mother because she, in her own yard (near the woods,) had on white mittens and he "thought" she was a deer (he got off free.) There is no "its only a moose" to people who have 'hunting accidents.' How to change the mindset???

metis22's picture
Submitted by metis22 on
This also reminds me of the 200 year-old+ fish that was in the news - a fisherman so proud he killed something that was born about the time of the US American revolution and had survived all the pollution of the centuries, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and now the Japanese nuclear reactor that's still polluting. But hey, he got a trophy on his wall and the world lost a great Being.

Derp's picture
Submitted by Derp on
Ancestors? Natives? What? It's hunting season and the hunters got a kill. Jesus tapdancing christ, "Honor the spirit of the sacred moose". That sounds as goofy as going to church does doesn't it?

Ove Thomsen's picture
Ove Thomsen
Submitted by Ove Thomsen on
Every hunter knows, that albino/white animals are holy and to treated with respect !! .....what went wrong for those hunters...!? Regards ...a Scandinavian hunter

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
so every time a white person does something we are all to blame ignorance is bliss

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
so every time a white person does something we are all to blame ignorance is bliss

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
so every time a white person does something we are all to blame ignorance is bliss