Misel Joe was born in Miawpukek into a strong Mi'kmaq family, both his grandfather and uncle have held the office of hereditary Saqamaw. Misel has been educated in all the Mi'kmaq ways and traditions. Morris Lewis, the first appointed Chief in Newfoundland by the Grand Chief in Mi'kmaq territory, was Misel's great, great uncle.
At the age of 16, Misel was given the alternative to either leave the reserve to journey to other parts of Canada in search of employment or to travel to a neighboring community and attend secondary school. Misel chose to leave the reserve and during his time away from the community he held several different positions such as farm hand, factory worker, railroad worker, construction worker, truck driver, heavy equipment operator, ranch hand, commercial fisherman, underground miner and labor foreman.
Misel Joe returned to Miawpukek in 1973. Since that time, he has been involved in First Nation Politics, first as a Councilor and after the death of his uncle, Chief William Joe in 1982, he became Traditional Saqamaw and the Newfoundland District Chief for the Mi'kmaq Grand Council. In 1988, the community of Miawpukek decided to create a two-chief system whereby there would be an Administrative Chief elected every two years in addition to the Traditional role as Saqamaw. Misel is currently in his sixth consecutive two year term as Administrative Chief. He has been very successful in performing two of the above roles during his term of office.
Misel Joe is also the spiritual leader of his people. In this capacity he has gained recognition provincially, nationally, and internationally, particularly in the area of spiritual healing. Misel Joe has presented on native medicines and traditional healing practices at several International Alternative Medicine Conferences and hosted the 1996 and the 2006 International Healing Conference at Conne River.
Saqamaw Misel Joe is committed to preserving the language, culture and traditions of his people. He also plays a very public role in presenting a better understanding of the Mi'kmaq people of Miawpukek to residents of this province and country. In this process he has developed a positive profile through numerous interviews in print and electronic media, and publicized speaking engagements.
Misel Joe is involved in several committees and organizations such as Miawpukek Powwow Committee Advisor; Miawpukek Human Resources Board; MAMKA Board; Miawpukek First Nation Negotiation Team; Self Government Steering Committee; Ulnooweg Development Corporation; Parks Canada - National Board; Atlantic Policy Congress (Executive Council, All Chiefs); The First Nations Trust Fund.
In May 2004, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by Memorial University of Newfoundland & Labrador. The degree was awarded in recognition of his contribution to the economic, social and political development of the Mi'kmaq people of Newfoundland & Labrador.