The Beothuk's story is tragic. The aboriginal inhabitants of Newfoundland, they were hunters, gatherers, and fishers who moved seasonally between the coast and the interior. With the influx of European settlements and fisheries in the 1700s the Beothuk found their territory increasingly reduced and conflict between the two groups escalated. The Beothuk population steadily declined and by the early 1800s the Beothuk had ceased to exist as a viable cultural group. Shanawdithit, the last Beothuk, died in 1829. Following their extinction, the Beothuk came to be viewed as a people whose origins, history, and fate were shrouded in mystery. On a quest to sort fact from fiction, Ingeborg Marshall, a leading expert on the Beothuk, has produced an elegant, comprehensive, and scholarly review of the history and culture of the Beothuk that incorporates an unmatched amount of new archival material with up-to-date archaeological data. The book is beautifully and extensively illustrated with maps, portraits, photographs of Beothuk artefacts, burial sites, and camps, and a set of drawings by Shanawdithit.
A History and Ethnography of the Beothuk is a compelling story and an indispensable reference tool for anyone interested in the Beothuk or Native peoples of North America.
Part 1 History: the sixteen century - first contact; the seventeenth century - colonization, trade, and encroachment; relations between the Beothuk and their native neighbours; competition for resources on the coast; hostilities over hunting and trapping; Lieutenant John Cartwright explores Beothuk country; intensified conflict between Beothuk and settlers; plans to conciliate the Beothuk; the capture of Beothuk to make peace; Lieutenant Buchan's efforts to make contact; Micmac and Montagnais versus Beothuk - the final phase; the captive Demasduit; 1822-1827 - The Boeothick Institution; Shanawdithit. Part 2 Ethnography: position of Beothuk in Newfoundland prehistory; distribution and size of the Beothuk population; aspects os social organization; food consumption and subsistence economies; tools and utensils, hunting and fishing techniques; appearance and clothing; Mamateeks and other structures; Birchbarch canoes and other means of transportation; Beothuk world view and belief-related practices; burial places and mortuary practices; fighting methods and peace tokens; the Beothuk language; concluding discussion.