The Aboriginal People of New Foundland

Essay by BucSCollege, UndergraduateA+, February 1997

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The Beothuk people of Newfoundland were not the very first inhabitants of the

island. Thousands of years before their arrival there existed an ancient race, named the

Maritime Archaic Indians who lived on the shores of Newfoundland. (Red Ochre Indians,

Marshall, 4.)

Burial plots and polished stone tools are occasionally discovered near Beothuk

remains. Some people speculate that, because of the proximity of the artifacts to the

former lands of the Beothuk, the Maritime Archaic Indians and the Beothuk may have

been related. It is not certain when the Beothuk arrived on the island. In fact little is

actually known about the people, compared to what is known about other amerindian

civilizations, only artifacts and stories told by elders tell the historians who these people

really were. Some speculate that they traveled from 'Labrador to Newfoundland across

the strait of Belle Isle, which at one time was only 12 miles wide.

By about 200 AD the

Beothuk Indians were probably well settled into Newfoundland.'(Red Ochre, 8)

The Beothuk were not alone on Newfoundland either. The Dorset Eskimos, who

came from Cape Dorset regions of the north around 500 BC also shared the island. They

presumably had contact with the Beothuk, exchanging tools or engaging in battle. In any

case the Dorset Indians died out leaving Newfoundland empty to the control of the

Beothuk people who now had no enemies and a wide vast territory.

The Beothuk, although part of the Algonkian family developed their own language

and culture. The 400 words that are still known from their language prove their Algonkian

heritage. The development of their culture was a great success. The success of the

Beothuk people as a whole was in part because of their skills in fishing, hunting and travel.

They were the 'only amerindian group to navigate...