Miawpukek Mi'kmawey Prayer Book

    In recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21st), here is an artifact that is significant within the culture of the Mi'kmaq both past and present. It is a Newfoundland Mi'kmaw prayer book that dates back to the early 19th century. It contains hymns, prayers and other religious texts for use in divine worship according to Roman Catholic observance. The majority of the text is written in a hieroglyphic script which is unique to the Mi'kmaw tradition and considered to be the earliest indigenous script in North America north of Mexico. There are also a number of annotations in the Mi'kmaw language. The manuscript has a leaf with a watermark date of 1807 and a handwritten entry dated 1812; the latest date noted is 1892. There are also numerous notations and additions. In 1995, the Miawpukek Mi'kmaw prayer book was in such a fragile state that the Conne River band asked for help to conserve it. The Queen Elizabeth II Library of Memorial University submitted a request to the Canadian Conservation Institute for full conservation of the prayer book. The application was successful and upon completion of the conservation treatment in 1997, the manuscript was returned to Conne River. A microfilm copy was made as well as two photographic facsimiles: the Centre for Newfoundland Studies has the microfilm and one of the facsimiles, the Archives and Special Collections Division has the other. As well, a digital reproduction was taken from the microfilm copy and is available through the Digital Archives Initiative, allowing future generations the opportunity to study the many unique features of this important artifact.