Nova Scotia Archives

George Creed - Mi'kmaq Petroglyphs

Tracing of a petroglyph of the insignia worn by Mi'kmaq chiefs

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Date: 1888

Petroglyph tracings B: Enclosed designs #8. 5 negatives and 4 positives. Marion Robertson's Rock Drawings of the Micmac Indians interpret this petroglyph as the "insignia of a Chief… Identified by the Micmacs at the time the tracings were made in 1888 as drawings of the insignia their chiefs used to wear. The designs suggest ancient symbolism with possibly some influence of the Roman Catholic church in the use of the cross. However, at the time of Father Chrétien LeClercq's arrival among the Micmacs in 1675 a cross was the totem of the Indians of Miramichi. As a totemic symbol the cross was perhaps the rendering of something, such as a bird in flight seen in silhouette against the sky or the human figure with arms extended, which when drawn in bare outline, fell into the form of a cross. Besides the use of the cross as a totem, it was used by the Micmacs, sometimes with double and triple crosspieces, to mark important places for hunting and fishing. The device in [this petroglyph] of a triangle with lines curving outward in the lore of some Indians was they symbol of a living chief." [This petroglyph], as the insignia of a chief of the Micmacs, suggests the land of the Micmacs: the outer circle supporting their wigwams and divided by seven loops into the seven districts in which their land was divided, each district with a chief (represented by seven crosses), their land centered with the sun, earth, and moon."

Reference: George Creed - Petroglyphs Nova Scotia Archives MG 15 Vol. 11 B8