I know some peoples in more southern parts of the Americas had forms of written language, however, I was unsure as to whether this is something that had also developed among groups living in modern America-Canada prior to Columbus.

  • I think this is a duplicate, but can't find it. Can anyone else track it down; or am I mistaken? Oct 11, 2020 at 16:25
  • @PieterGeerkens - I don't remember getting one quite like this before, but my memory isn't exactly renowned for its reliability.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2020 at 19:19
  • Edited the question a tad, because I'm pretty sure the OQ wanted this restricted to the geographic areas of modern Canada and the continental United States, and thus probably isn't interested in eg: Mayan codexes.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2020 at 19:22
  • Does the hide calendars count? (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_count)
    – Greg
    Oct 11, 2020 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


There is/was the Micmac writing system:

Schmidt and Marshall argued in 1995 that the missionary system of the 17th century was able to serve as a fully functional writing system. This would mean that Miꞌkmaq is the oldest writing system for a native language north of Mexico.


Pierre Maillard, Roman Catholic priest, during the winter of 1737–38 created a system of hieroglyphics to transcribe Miꞌkmaq words.

However, as Barry Fell points out, the Micmac hieroglyphics are very similar, in both form and meaning, to the Egyptian ones (America BC, pp. 255, 256).

enter image description here

And then a little mystery (p. 257):

Maillard died in 1762, 61 years before Champollion published his first decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphics.

  • 4
    I'm upvoting this because its possible this is pre-contact, and I was previously unaware of it. However, it would be nice if this answer went into some detail about why this may qualify as an answer to the question, and also why it may not. There appear to be arguments either way.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2020 at 19:17
  • I cannot imagine how the hieroglyph for "ram, sheep" could have been in use in Canada before European contact, given that the animal itself wasn't present on the American continent.
    – Evargalo
    Oct 12, 2020 at 7:39
  • @Evargalo I'm not very familiar with hieroglyphics, but that is clearly not the way it works with normal words. e.g. the Ram is a Zodiac sign.
    – Tomas By
    Oct 12, 2020 at 10:00
  • 1
    @TomasBy I am note sure I understand your comment. I just wanted to point out that if Mikmaks already used glyphs in the 15th century then the "Ram sheep" was certainly not one of them. Anyway, Barry Fell's work is received with a lot of skepticism by scholars - It would be nice to check if other sources found the alleged similarity between Mikmak and Egyptian hieroglyphs.
    – Evargalo
    Oct 12, 2020 at 12:16
  • 1
    Evargalo already did. I'll do another one. The "glyph" for "I my me" is A1 in Gardiner and looks nothing like this. Same with the 2nd person singular pronoun. So many of these don't even resemble hieroglyphs at all. It's all 100% bullshit. If you've never taken Egyptian, then you don't know what you're talking about, and you shouldn't peddle the ramblings of someone the academy has regularly and routinely labeled a crackpot for decades.
    – cmw
    Jan 27, 2023 at 21:58

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