Digital Archives Initiative

Miawpukek Mi'kmawey Prayer Book



Miawpukek Mi'kmawey Prayer Book
The Miawpukek Mi'kmawey Prayer Book is a manuscript collection of prayers and other ecclesiastical texts according to Roman Catholic observance. It differs from any other kind of collection of religious texts by virtue of the script in which it is written, a system of hieroglyphic symbols unique to the Mi'kmaw tradition which constitutes the earliest indigenous script in North America north of Mexico. This writing system, which the Mi'kmaq called Komqwej-wikasikl, was in use in Eastern Canada by the Mi'kmaq when the first Roman Catholic missionaries arrived, who then adapted it as a means of preserving the texts of liturgical offices for recitation. The glyphs of which it is composed are more than 2,700 in number. Surviving manuscript copies of the prayer book are rare and internal evidence shows this to be oldest extant copy, dating back to the early nineteenth century.

The manuscript prayer book was given full conservation by the Canadian Conservation Institute in 1997 and returned to the Conne River band. This digital reproduction is taken from a microfilm copy of the restored manuscript that was created by CCI once the repairs were complete. Digitization was undertaken with the permission of the Conne River band. The effects of dirt and damp on the condition of the book are evident but individual prayers and catechetical readings can still be recognized by someone who knows the symbols well. The thumbnail on this page shows the hieroglyphic rendering of the Lord's Prayer, followed by the Hail Mary, on page 104 of the prayer book.


Micmac Catechism
This is a Micmac Catechism , titled "Buch das gut, enthaltend den Katechismus, Betrachung, Gesand". Printed in Germany in 1866. Given to William Bennett, Gander, by Mateau Gidore at Burnt Woods, near Conne River, in July 1965, in "appreciation for a float plane ride". Donated to Archives and Special Collections, Memorial University, by William Bennett March 22, 1999.

This book has been in private hands for the past 130 plus years, which has resulted in much wear and tear. Dr Hans Rollmann believes it to be one of only a few copies of this book in existence. There is one at Harvard and one at Georgetown University. For more information see the Archives and Special Collections findind aid COLL-462

Sponsor

QEII Library and Archives and Special Collections

Associated Website:

Miawpukek Mi'kmawey Prayer Book