CANADA - MICMAC INDIANS OF NEW BRUNSWICK
Papers of Major General Henry Dunn O'Halloran, 69th (The South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot, on active service in New Brunswick, 1839-42, relating to his study of the language of the Micmac Indians including a Micmac sacred text, notes, drawings and correspondence; also, papers relating to his military career, printed papers and photographs, the collection comprising:
BOOK OF MICMAC HIEROGLYPHIC PRAYERS, manuscript on paper, with musical notation on 2 leaves, 127 leaves written in at least two hands in black or blue ink on both sides of the paper, some pencil scribbling, 6 blanks, 57 leaves, bearing the watermark 'Webster 1836', one reference to 'Sabatis ... 1830' and one pencil scribble dated 1840, two scribbles initialled 'RMAP' or 'RMAN', verso of final leaf with scribble and a drawing of a female in elaborate Western dress, written throughout in Micmac hieroglyphs with some pictoral decoration interspersed (e.g. plants, animals and buildings), some foxing and browning, small tear along lower border of first leaf (56mm), stitched, original iron binding clamp (rusted) inscribed 'Patent Leaf Holder', folio (350 x 195mm).
A rare example of North America's first indigenous script incorporating designs and symbols each of which represents mnemonically a whole sentence or verse.
TWO LETTERS SIGNED BY JOSEPH MALIE ITKOBITCH, GRAND CHIEF OF THE RESTIGOUCHE INDIANS: the first, signed 'Josep Maly', Restigouche, New Brunswick, 21 May 1842, to Sir Augustus D'Este [grandson of King George III], in London, announcing his arrival at Annapolis, USA, expressing pleasure at the reception given to a deputation of Indians and pledging loyalty to the Queen and the government, 3 pages, 4to; the second, signed 'Josep Mully Chief', Restigouche, Campbellton, 28 June 1842, to O'Halloran 'The Grand White Chief of the Micmac Tribe on the Restigouche River', asking him to visit them before he departs for England, referring to the Queen's promise to build a chapel, a possible visit to Quebec and the Indians' distrust of a priest, integral address leaf to O'Halloran at Frederickton (re-directed to St John), postal strike 'Dalhousie', seal.
Autograph notes [by O'Halloran] on the Micmac language, 1 leaf written on both sides, watermark 'Whatman 1839', folio.
Fragment of autograph notes [by O'Halloran] on bears with marginal notes expressing frustration at Perley's failure to keep a rendezvous, preventing him 'fulfilling that part of H.E.'s instructions which by Mr Perley's own appointment & desire, devolved upon me', dated 24 September , 2 pages, folio.
DRAWINGS BY O'HALLORAN, CANADA: drawings inscribed 'Antoine Misael 90 years of age Restigouche 14 October 41 taken in the act of explaining to the Artist the meaning of certain hieroglyphic characters, peculiar to the Micmac tribe of Indians', pencil, 210 x 132mm; 'Thomas Barnaby deposed Restigouche Chief taken in the act of relating (to the Artist) a story of old Indian times' pencil, 210 x 130mm; 'Josep Andre Julian Chief of the Pogemulch [Pokemouche] Indians 13 Sept. 1841 Taken in the act of speaking in Council', part of drawing torn away affecting head, pencil, 210 x 130mm; 'Louis Julian Miramachi Indian', pencil 215 x 130mm; 'Paul Rochs mother', pencil, crayon and watercolours, 205 x 132mm; view of Niagara, and 2 others (8).
DRAWINGS BY O'HALLORAN, USA: portrait drawings of [Luther] Bradish, lieutenant governor of New York; General [Winfield] Scott; Colonel Maxwell, 1840, and three drawings of Shakers (6).
DRAWINGS BY O'HALLORAN OF FELLOW OFFICERS: sketchbook containing 15 drawings, one dated New Brunswick, 1840; 7 portrait drawings, various sizes.
MISCELLANEOUS: sketches of officers including O'Halloran, 1852; portrait drawings (14); drawing of flowers.
PHOTOGRAPHS: O'Halloran in military uniform (including glass negative) (7); British officers (3).
PRINTED AND ENGRAVED EPHEMERA (16 items).
Documents relating to O'Halloran's military career (9); family correspondence (7); miscellaneous papers (12).
Henry Dunn O'Halloran was appointed ensign in the 69th Foot in 1818. After service in India, the Indies (East and West) and the Mediterranean, Captain O'Halloran was posted with his regiment to British North America in February 1839. They were stationed in New Brunswick until September 1842.
During the period 1839-42, O'Halloran made a particular study of the Micmac Indians, teaching himself to read their written language and studying their customs. This interest attracted the attention of Moses Henry Perley whose extensive knowledge of Indian settlements and concern for the welfare of the Indians resulted in his appointment in 1841 as commissioner of Indian affairs in New Brunswick. (Perley played a major role in the drafting of the Province's Indian Act of 1844.)
Perley invited O'Halloran (on leave of absence from his regiment) to accompany him during his tour of the Indian settlements in the Province. Although O'Halloran was forced by illness to withdraw during the course of the tour, nevertheless he contributed a report and letters to Perley's submission to the lieutenant governor, Sir William Colebrooke.
In a letter to Colebrooke (quoted in Perley's published report), O'Halloran writes: 'I have applied myself assiduously during our visit to the several Settlements, to the study of the Micmac language ... My printed version of the 'Lord's Prayer' has been put into the hands of about fifty Indians, some of whom can read it tolerably well.' Colebrooke was pleased to learn that O'Halloran intended to make further translations from the scriptures in the Micmac language.
There is no doubt that O'Halloran's genuine concern for the Indians was appreciated: Perley, O'Halloran and another officer were elected chiefs of the Micmac nation at a Grand Council held at Brunt Church Point at the mouth of the Miramichi in September 1841. Perley commented, 'The Indians of New Brunswick were first converted to Christianity ... by the Jesuit Missionaries ... Manuscript books of the chants and church service, in these very curious symbolical characters, are still in common use among the Micmacs, who ... part with them very unwillingly.'