Mi'kmaq is part of the Algonkian language family. This is a type of language spoken by many different Aboriginal peoples in the east and some in the west. The Mi'kmaq also called themselves Elnu, meaning "the people".
Mi'kmaq spiritual leaders were called "puoin". This name comes from the same root word that we get the word powwow from. These puoin could heal the sick by using certain plants. They also acquired guardian spirits to help them in their healing. The beliefs of the Mi'kmaq were similar to other Algonquin societies in that they used the sweat lodge. The Mi'kmaq also believed that all living things -- plants, animals and humans -- had a spirit, so they treated all forms of life with respect.
Some Mi'kmaq people became Christians. In about 1610 the Mi'kmaq sagamore (or chief) Membertoo, became the first Mi'kmaq Roman Catholic. This resulted in a long relationship between the Mi'kmaq and the Catholic Church that continues to this day.