Sounds and Writing

There are three distinct writing traditions in use among Anishinaabe people. Most ancient is the pictographic system used both to make mnemonic charts and other inscriptions for religious purposes, and for various kinds of correspondence ranging from personal notes to formal petitions. In the nineteenth century, a syllabic writing system was developed for northern varieties of Anishinaabemowin and Cree, called simply syllabics. For centuries various roman alphabetic writing systems based on European languages have been used locally, showing an immense amount of variation. In the 1950’s Charles Fiero developed a roman writing system for Minnesota and Wisconsin Anishinaabemowin, which has become a de facto standard, used in the popular Nichols and Nyholm dictionary, the Oshkaabewis Native Journal, and other widely published materials. It is commonly called the Double Vowel system, because it uses doubled vowel letters to represent long vowels.

To learn about a pictographic petition made in 1849 by a group of Anishinaabe chiefs to the President of the United States, click on the image below (a new browser window will open; close it when you're done). Otherwise, click Next in the navigation bar above.