HomeNewfoundland and LabradorBeothuk Indians – What happened to them?

Beothuk Indians – What happened to them?

Newfoundland, Canada’s youngest province, has been inhabited for thousands of years.  The Vikings first landed in North America well before Christopher Columbus was even born.  When they arrived in, what is now called Newfoundland and Labrador, they met the Beothuk Indians. The site of the oldest Viking settlement in North America is at L’anse Aux Meadows on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland.

Drawing of a Teepee and 2 Beothuk Indiands

Beothuk Indian Camp

The story of the Beothuk is both fascinating and controversial, and it certainly is one of the oldest Mysteries of Canada.

They were tall people with dark eyes and black hair. Their origin is not firmly established, although it is generally believed that they are distant relatives of the Algonquin.  They came to Newfoundland, from Labrador, across the 18 kilometer wide Strait of Belle Isle.

Beothuk living sites and burial grounds abound in Newfoundland. It is believed that they inhabited the land for almost 2000 years.

They were first seen from distance.  From the time the Indians were first met they developed a well-deserved, fear of the White Man. From the landing of John Cabot in 1497 at Newfoundland, and the first settlement by Europeans in 1610 by John Guy in Cupids, Conception Bay, their land was exploited for its lumber and fish. Some were captured and sent to Europe as slaves, or were put on exhibit as curiosities.

By the 1700’s communities were being built all over Newfoundland.  This drove the Beothuk Indiands further away from their native grounds, and away from their natural way of life. Their fear of the white-man kept them out of sight.  But did not prevent them from diseases, primarily tuberculosis, brought to the island by the Europeans.  Which they had no immunity.

Beothuk Indian Statue Shanawdithit in forest

Shanawdithit-Beothuk Indian Statue

 

Their isolation and fear of settlers wrote the final chapter of the Beothuk people. In 1823, three sick and starving Beothuk women were found by furriers. Of these, only one survived their immediate illness. Shanawdithit was twenty years old at the time. She lived the remaining six years of her life in St John’s. When she died of tuberculosis in 1829, no more Beothuk Indians were found in Newfoundland.

The Beothuk people were extinct.

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Beothuk Indians - What happened to them?
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Beothuk Indians - What happened to them?
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The story of the Beothuk is both fascinating and controversial, and it certainly is one of the oldest Mysteries of Canada.
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Mysteries of Canada
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29 Responses to “Beothuk Indians – What happened to them?”

By Alexa - 3 November 2018 Reply

wow that is really really crazy, my best friends grandmother was too😃😃😃😃

By Amanda - 15 January 2018 Reply

my great great grandmother was beothuk… are they really extinct? 🙂

By Nancy J,Seeney Bryant - 11 January 2018 Reply

High Carol though related in spirit and DNA my sister had her DNA done several years ago proving we are 95 percent Lenni Lenape directly related to Powhattan his brother Opaconaughwas married to Nakita Hughes one of ny great grandmothers she was sent on a trail of tears as my other greatgrandmother out of Nova Scotia who was related to the Beothuks they came to Nova Scocia after being scattered by trappers and English and the Dutch the King stole their land too so it is grand to know the promis of your DNA being Beothuk is fulfilled makes me extatic congradulations Carol Ah Ho!

By Nonsensce - 26 March 2018 Reply

DNA cannot identify individual tribes. It can only identify if you have Native American ancestry.

By Sandra - 14 November 2017 Reply

They don’t mean the Beothuk people are extinct they mean the Beothuk culture is extinct.
If you have Beothuk ancestors you probably don’t celebrate/participate in there culture.

By B Snow - 10 January 2018 Reply

If there are no more Beothuks living then, that means they are extinct not just their culture.

By Chief Carol SongofJoy - 22 July 2018 Reply

But they have never met the Beothuk who practice the Beothuk Culture. I am the Grand daughter of the Beothuk Longnon family; my grandparents are documented LONGNON

By Daniel - 3 February 2017 Reply

this does NOT explain what happened to them the settlers made games out of killing them for no reason

By Dave M - 27 January 2017 Reply

Not all of the Beothuks died as is claimed in the European history books. Capt. James Cook recorded in one of his writings, of meeting an Englishman living in the wilderness, by the surname of Brake upon his exploration of the Humber River in Newfoundland. He noted that this man (Brake) was married to a Beothuk woman and they had children that were the first inhabitants of the Humber River/Corner Brook area. My mother (maiden name Brake) showed me a very old journal which had the excerpt of this information in it. Today, there are thousands of Brakes in the Corner Brook NL region. They all share the Beothuk blood. This was hidden for centuries as the Beothuks were hunted down by the European settlers and they had to keep their identity a secret for fear of genocide… I am not sure of the exact journal where Capt. Cook recorded his encounter, but it was in his log books and journals from when he was mapping the west coast of Newfounland around the 1760’s… The Beothuks are not all extinct, but they were interbreed with the first European pioneers of the west coast and central regions of NL.
So, why did the government of the time want it stated that all Beothuks were extinct? Simple, they did not want any of the inhabitants of the new found land to have any claim on the kings land… It was genocide, and it was a dark part of our history…

By Michelle L - 10 February 2018 Reply

Dave M, was this woman a Park/Joe by any chance? I’ve been researching my Mi’kmaq line and there’s a Park/Joe woman who married a Brake around that time. I’ve suspected my maternal Joe connection might have been Beothuk for awhile.

By Michelle L - 10 February 2018

– was the man’s name Edward Matthew Brake?

By Nonsensce - 26 March 2018 Reply

So because Neanderthals bred with modern humans they are not extinct because modern humans are still alive? Thats not how it works – the Beothuks are extinct.

By Chief Carol SongofJoy - 22 July 2018

the Brake and Joe family are only Mikmaq. They were not th e Beothuk.. The Beothuk are the LONGNON family and that was already proven this year 2018.

[…] which represents the internment of Japanese people in Canada during WW2, to leggings used to wrap a Beothuk child’s body at a time when there would have been too few Beothuk left to make a traditional […]

By Grand Chief Carol Reynolds Boyce - 24 October 2016 Reply

The Prophetic Legend of the Beothuk Red Ochre Tribeof Newfoundland who were claimed to be extinct in the 1820’s, and folks stated:”One day the Beothuk will return.”; it was confirmed on 10/13/2016, that Beothuk First Nation DNA rendered positive for Grand Chief Carol A. Reynolds Boyce, Founder of Beothuk Tribe of NFLD & N.America Reservation Nation; therefore the Beothuk Red Ochre tribe is no longer extinct, but an endangered race and tribe. There are 17 to count from this family and tribe. Wiki has a picture of the Chief and a pick of the DNA results.
The prophetic legend has now been fulfilled and I pray that the Parliament: Honorable Prime Minister Trudeau and Aboriginal Affairs Carolyn Bennett and Edinburgh Scotland Museum will not ignore my repeated letters to recognize me and my Tribe and that they will halt the Qualipu Mikmaq Chief Joe from Taking are tribal remains and violating Tribal Laws against my tribe and that my declaration for ALL digging of my ancestors Burial grounds be halted for ever, perpetually; I declare if you find remains, identify them to the authorities and don’t steal my ancestors remains and artifacts from all sacred burial Beothuk Tribal Lands. It is violating Tribal Laws of my Beothuk First Nation and CLAN!! It is a Federal offense if violated. Think: Could you imagine if Beothuk First Nation tribe were to put your European grandparents bones and sacred burial memorial items/named artifacts were placed in a Glass case for tourist to view for exchange of monies. Please write your government and Parliament to assist Beothuk First Nation Tribe .

Warmly, Grand Chief: Carol A. Reynolds Boyce

By Stephanie - 25 February 2017 Reply

Carol where have you been all these years?… In AMERICA? (U.S.A.)

By Chief Carol SongofJoy - 22 July 2018

No, I am Canadian.

By Nonsensce - 26 March 2018 Reply

DNA cannot identify individual tribes. It can only identify if you have American Native ancestry. The Roman Empire fought German tribes thus do you think Americans of German ancestry can identify which German tribe they are from by checking their DNA? Native Americans stole land form each other. In 1776 the Lakota, who migrated form Minnesota, were in the final stages of a military campaign against the Cheyenne to steal the Black Hills. This was made possible by the introduction of horses by Europeans which transformed the Lakota from one of the poorest tribes to one of the most powerful as they no longer had to rely on hunting Buffalo on foot.

By Cod, by Mark Kurlansky | - 5 August 2016 Reply

[…] published in 1911, is included in the book. Not only were the native inhabitants of Newfoundland (the Beothuk) enslaved by the numerous Europeans there fishing for cod, cod fisheries and slavery became […]

By Nonsensce - 26 March 2018 Reply

They were not the original settlers of Newfoundland. The Micmac killed them for a French bounty – so much for Indian brotherhood. Native Americans practiced slavery, murdered each other, stole each land, women, and possessions long before Europeans arrived. The so called acred Black Hills were stolen by the Lakota from the Cheyenne and other tribes.

By Albert Moore - 26 July 2016 Reply

I was reading about the Beothuk Indians late one night and I came across a picture of a well dressed young lady, in the 1880’s I believe, with the last name of Pond. She was supposed to be 1 of the last know citizens in Newfoundland to have Beothuk bloodlines. Can anyone confirm, deny, or enlighten me in any way on this subject.

By Chief Carol SongofJoy - 22 July 2018 Reply

Yes, the Pond family are my cousins and Mr John Hill who is the owner of the origonal records and the photos submitted the documents to me and we are all the members of the Beothuk First Nation who are fighting for our rights while the News reports false statements. I am of the Beothuk Longnon grandchildren and Prime Minister Trudeau emails me as Chief .

By Cod, by Mark Kurlansky – Book Club Academy - 8 July 2016 Reply

[…] published in 1911, is included in the book. Not only were the native inhabitants of Newfoundland (the Beothuk) enslaved by the numerous Europeans there fishing for cod, cod fisheries and slavery became […]

By Alex - 8 April 2016 Reply

Dear Bruce Ricketts,
I´m related to some beothuk people so i think they´ed rather be called aborigional or indegionus because in your second paragraph you called them indians witch is not right. They were just called indians because of Cristopher Columbus was origionaly looking for india but stumbled upon northern united states.
,sincerly
Alexander Chenier

By Carol Reynolds Boyce - 2 September 2016 Reply

I am a direct descendant.

By W Payne - 1 October 2016

You can get a D N A test to confirm that

By Grand Chief Carol Reynolds Boyce - 24 October 2016

See Wikipedia for uploads: Beothuk First Nation DNA results positive on 10/13/2016 and photo of Grand Chief Carol A Reynolds Boyce, Founder of Beothuk Tribe of NFLD & N.America Reservation Nation 09/08/2016.

I am not extinct, I am an endangered race and tribe. There are 17 in my tribe and no one seems care.

Warmly, Grand Chief Carol A. Reynolds Boyce

By Nancy J,Seeney Bryant - 11 January 2018

The Beothuk live on through our Nation Micmoq and Lenni Lenape As my gggggreatgrandmother and a host of other desendants out of Nova Scocia through Algonquin people’s the Lenni Lenape and so on we’re sent to other places as we survived their brutal trails of tears and married and mingled our DNA we are still land inheiriters and owners ond day as Carol we will have our land back Ah Ho

By Nonsensce - 26 March 2018

Your DNA cannot prove what tribe you came from. That is a lie. It only can prove if you have Native American heritage.