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Beothuk Research and Possible Film

In a timely follow-up to class discussions over the past weeks, The Toronto Star has run a piece about the extinction / extermination of the Beothuks of Newfoundland during the eighteen and early nineteenth centuries. The article describes an upcoming film production about the Beothuks using forensic anthropology and ethnohistory:

[The] supposed mystery of the Beothuk could well turn out to be more imaginary than real, as their life story is now finally being reconstructed with the same passion and scientific rigour applied to other native groups.

As a start, Toronto independent filmmaker Christopher Gagosz has used forensic techniques popularized by TV shows like CSI to examine how this one encounter on the ice pushed the Beothuk over the extinction precipice.

As well, the making of the documentary is helping to jump-start a longer-term scientific investigation into the origins of the Beothuk, their links to present-day native groups and their place in the initial peopling of the New World.

“For us, it’s the first step in what we hope will be a very big regional study,” says Newfoundland archaeologist and ethnohistorian Ingeborg Marshall, author of a definitive book about the Beothuk.

The article also discusses the forensic techniques used to investigate the vulnerability of the Beothuk population and includes broader commentary about Beothuk history and research.

The Star gives background information about the Beothuks here.

Credit: Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights Yahoo Group.

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  1. Samera wrote:

    hi i need some INFORMATION ON THE BEOTHUKS! can u pleaase senme it n ma email

    Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 4:46 am | Permalink
  2. What information do you already have? What project are you working on? (Who are you?)

    Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 7:49 am | Permalink
  3. I’ve just recently completed a book called Ireland Chronology Decoded. Now you might ask what does that have to do with Beothucks? Well before I wrote the book I had no idea that Beothucks were thought to be extinct. Growing up in Nova Scotia back in the 60’s My Great Grandmother who was in her late 80’s early 90’s at the time would tell me tales of the good old days back in Cape Breton. She often said we were the Bethok (Betook) or she would say in Gaelic Beothach (The ach with a gravely roll) She told me we came from the Land of Fairies in the land of Avalon over the water’s in the Mag Mell and we had to leave when the white men came and never tell people that because they will kill you and cut you up into little pieces and eat you all up. Now of course I thought this all to be a ”story” to entertain me and scare the holy be Jesus out of me as well but I listened for hours to her. She would tell me tales and teach me Gaelic.

    While writing this book I came across the Beothuck and read of their extinction I knew of the Avalon Penensula in Newfoundland but the penny dropped when a good friend of mine from Newfoundland told me he was from Ferryland in Newfoundland and mentioned that there was an archaelogicla dig going on or near his land in Ferryland. His name is Dr. Peter J. Mory. So either my Great Grandmother was full of it or the Historians were wrong. Now perhaps they just meant extinct in Newfoundland but from what I know there was at least one group who made the trip from Fairyland to Lobster Island (She called Cape Breton Lobster Island because it was shaped like a Lobster claw how a woman who has never been to school knew that I don’t know other than that’s what she was told at some point. And with the genocide of the Bethok I’m sure a few people were killed but the people were not stupid. I mean if people were hunting me with guns and all I had were arrows it would not take too many losses to come to the conclusion it’s time to leave. From what I gathered most came to Lobster Island the rest who could not escape south crossed to Labrador and of course the old and the sick could not make the long trip to the waters and were left behind.

    I know nothing more than What my Great Grandmother told me and I don’t know if it’s true it’s just what I was told by a very old Gaelic woman.

    Now I’m the old fart and I started to try and trace back stories and see what I came up with. And what I came up with is quite unbelievable I don’t quite believe it myself but it’s what I found so rather than change what I found to conform to the norm I just let what evidence I found speak for itself and went where the path took me and left it at that. So I wanted to know if the Historians were right that I am in fact extinct or perhaps some little old lady long dead was right…

    My website is

    George Arnold
    Bethok at large 

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  4. George: Fascinating! Interesting to consider that descendants of the beothuk are scattered around the Maritimes. I’ll send your comment out on my twitter feed and see what others say. Thanks for writing. -Tad

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink