Nova Scotia Archives

Mi'kmaq Holdings Resource Guide

Using this Resource




Mi'kmaq Orthographies

An orthography is the representation of the sounds of a language by written or printed symbols, according to a standard usage. The Mi'kmaq language has several different orthographies:


The Rand Orthography was developed by the Reverend Silas Tertius Rand in 1875. This orthography appears in several 19th century publications written in the Mi'kmaq language, but it is no longer used. Some of these books are among the Nova Scotia Archives Library holdings.

The Pacifique Orthography developed by Father Pacifique (Henri Buisson d'Valigny) in 1894 appears in books compiled by Father Pacifique, some of which are now in the Nova Scotia Archives Library. It is used by people in New Brunswick.

The Francis-Smith Orthography was developed by Bernard Francis and Douglas Smith in 1980. It is used by people in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and parts of New Brunswick. It is also the official orthography of the Mi'kmaq Sante' Mawio'mi (Grand Council).

The Lexicon Orthography was developed by Albert D. DeBlois and Alphonse Metallic in 1984.

The Listuguj Orthography is used by people in Quebec. Listuguj is located on the southwestern shore of the Gaspe' peninsula.


The Mi'kmaq Resource Guide uses the Francis-Smith Orthography, the orthography most widely recognized by Nova Scotian Mi'kmaq and by the Grand Council.

For historical accuracy, the orthographies and original spellings used in the archival records and library holdings have been preserved in the Mi'kmaq Resource Guide; we cannot change the original spellings in these early historical documents and printed materials to correspond with an orthography developed in the late 20th century.