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Beothuk Indians of Canada

Beothuk. Probably from a native word signifying "man," or "human being." Also called:

Macquaejeet or Ulno mequaegit, Micmac name, signifying "red man," and evidently a translation of the popular
  English name.
Ulnobah, Abnaki name.

Connections. While certain Algonquian elements are to be found in the remnants of the Beothuk language which have been preserved, the greater part of it is so different that these Indians have been placed in an independent linguistic stock, the Beothukan.

Location. When first brought to the knowledge of Europeans, the Beothuk seem to have occupied all of the island of Newfoundland except possibly the northernmost extremity.

History. The Beothuk were probably first met by Europeans under John Cabot in 1497, and from that time forward were frequently visited by explorers and fishermen. Differences having arisen between them and the French, they were gradually reduced in numbers, and the Micmac, who had settled meanwhile in the southern part of the island, drove them north until they were confined to some territory near Exploits River. In 1810 Sir Thomas Duckworth issued a proclamation for their protection, but in 1827 when Carmack's expedition, conducted on behalf of the Beothuk Institution for the civilization of the native savages, made a careful search for them, not one was encountered. The last of them may have crossed the Strait of Belle Isle to unite with the Algonquian Indians of Labrador. (See Hodge, 1907, article on Beothukan family.)

Population. Mooney (1928) estimates the total Beothuk population in 1600 to have been 500.

Connections in which they have become noted. The Beothuk were noted for their great use of red ocher, from which came the name usually bestowed upon them by Europeans; for their linguistic distinctiveness; and for the mystery surrounding their connections with other tribes and their ultimate fate.

The Indian Tribes of North of America, by John Swanton, 1953

Canadian Indians


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