The Aboriginal People Of New Foundland

1011 words - 4 pages

The Beothuk people of Newfoundland were not the very first inhabitants of theisland. Thousands of years before their arrival there existed an ancient race, named theMaritime Archaic Indians who lived on the shores of Newfoundland. (Red Ochre Indians,Marshall, 4.)Burial plots and polished stone tools are occasionally discovered near Beothukremains. Some people speculate that, because of the proximity of the artifacts to theformer lands of the Beothuk, the Maritime Archaic Indians and the Beothuk may havebeen related. It is not certain when the Beothuk arrived on the island. In fact little isactually known about the people, compared to what is known about other amerindiancivilizations, only artifacts and stories told by elders tell the historians who these peoplereally were. Some speculate that they traveled from 'Labrador to Newfoundland acrossthe strait of Belle Isle, which at one time was only 12 miles wide. By about 200 AD theBeothuk Indians were probably well settled into Newfoundland.'(Red Ochre, 8)The Beothuk were not alone on Newfoundland either. The Dorset Eskimos, whocame from Cape Dorset regions of the north around 500 BC also shared the island. Theypresumably had contact with the Beothuk, exchanging tools or engaging in battle. In anycase the Dorset Indians died out leaving Newfoundland empty to the control of theBeothuk people who now had no enemies and a wide vast territory.The Beothuk, although part of the Algonkian family developed their own languageand culture. The 400 words that are still known from their language prove their Algonkianheritage. The development of their culture was a great success. The success of theBeothuk people as a whole was in part because of their skills in fishing, hunting and travel.They were the 'only amerindian group to navigate on the high seas.'(Grabowski Web site)This was because of the construction of their canoes. Normally paddling on the high seasis dangerous, but Beothuk canoes were so designed to with stand high waves and stayaccurately on course. The canoes 'were made of a frame work of spruce and then coveredwith birch bark.'(Red Ochre, 9) They curved high at the sides and a sharp bottom acted asa keel. The high sides protected as a barrier from wave swamping the boat. As a result ofhunting expeditions on the Funk islands, 60 kilometers from shore, ocean travel wasevident and sea worthiness was essential. The knowledge of these canoes is only fromdocuments produced by explorers and early settlers, all that is left of the original canoesare models of canoes found in burial sites.'The Beothuk were a migratory people...'(Red Ochre, 14) they moved with theseasons and with the hunt. In fall they hunted caribou inland, in spring seals on the coast,the summer months seafood and birds eggs were harvested. The fall hunt was the mostimportant, as it would determine their success in surviving the winter months. TheBeothuk followed the patterns of migration of the caribou and laid out large traps of...

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