Micmac hieroglyphs

The Micmac hieroglyphs were a writing system used by the Micmac Native American Indians, who inhabit the east coast of Canada. They constitute a logographic system, although it also contains phonetic elements.

The Ave Maria in Micmac hieroglyphics


  • 1 History
  • 2 Examples
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


The system is assumed to be derived from traditional pictograms.Christian Le Clercq, a Catholic missionary on the Gaspe Peninsula in 1675, claimed to have seen the Micmac children write symbols on birch bark. The engravings were sometimes made using porcupine quills as a tool. Le Clercq used these symbols to translate and write religious prayers in Micmac, also developing new symbols. The writing system became popular among the Micmac, being used until the 19th century.

Since there is no historical or archaeological evidence for the existence of these symbols prior to the missionary’s arrival, the antiquity of the Micmac symbols on which they were based, according to their claim, is unknown. Its relationship with the Micmac petroglyphs is also uncertain.

The biologist and amateur epigrapher Barry Fell claimed that the Micmac hieroglyphs were of Egyptian origin.

Ives Goddard and William Fitzhugh of the Smithsonian Institution’s Department of Anthropology, apart from considering Fell’s views completely unfounded, claimed that the pre-missionary system was purely rote, a mnemonic device, and not a writing system.



Ritual text used in the Rite of Confirmation, in Micmac hieroglyphics. The text means Koqoey telikaqumilálaji msɨt Nakli – ?, literally, “Why / os / everything / after he did them?”, Or “Why are all these steps necessary?”



  1. David L. Schmidt and Murdena Marshall, Míkmaq Hieroglyphic Prayers, Readings in North America’s First Indigenous Script, Nimbus Publishing, 1995, ISBM 1-55109-069-4
  2. Edwards, Brandan Frederick R. Paper Talk: A history of libraries, print culture, and Aboriginal peoples in Canada before 1960. Toronto: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 2004 ISBN 978-0810851139 p.11 (view)
  3. Barry Fell, The Micmac Manuscripts, article in Epigraphic Society Occasional Papers, 1992, vol. 21, pages 295-320, issn 0192-5148
  4. Ives Goddard and William W. Fitzhugh, Barry Fell Reexamined, Article in The Biblical Archaeologist (see) Archived June 3, 2007 at the Wayback Machine, September 1978, vol. 41, no. 3, pages 85-88, issn 1449-180X (view)

external links

  •   Wikimedia Commons hosts a multimedia category on Micmac Hieroglyphs.
  • Míkmaq Portraits Collection
  • Micmac at ChristusRex.org
  • Écriture sacrée en Nouvelle France: Les hieroglyphes micmacs et transformation cosmologique (in French)

  •   Data: Q2465268
  •   Multimedia: Category: Micmac writing

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