The Beothuk


The Beothuk were an indigenous people based on the island of Newfoundland.

Beginning around AD 1500, the Beothuk culture formed. This appeared to be the most recent cultural manifestation of peoples who first migrated from Labrador to present-day Newfoundland around AD 1.

Whether Europeans committed genocide against the Native peoples has been a controversial topic. If this campaign did occur, it was explicitly without official sanction no later than 1759, any such action thereafter being in violation of Governor John Byron's proclamation criminalizing violence against the Beothuk.

In spite of these proclamations, no person was ever punished for killing a Beothuk.

Shanawdithit was the last known full-blooded Beothuk. In April 1823 she was in her early twenties when she, her mother and sister sought food and help from a British trapper. They were starving.

The three were taken to St. John's, where her mother and sister soon died of tuberculosis, which was endemic among the First Nations. Called Nancy April by the English, Shanawdithit lived for several years in the home of John Peyton, Jr., where she worked as a servant.


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