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The Beothuks were the native inhabitants of Newfoundland at the time of European contact in the 15th and 16th centuries.

"Beothuk" means "people" in the Beothuk language. The origins of the Beothuks are uncertain, but it appears that they were an Algonquian group who displaced a Dorset Inuit culture on Newfoundland about 1000 years ago.

It is possible that the natives described by the Vikings as Skraelings were Beothuk inhabitants of Labrador and Newfoundland. When other Europeans arrived, beginning with John Cabot in 1497, there were probably only about a thousand Beothuks on Newfoundland, although there was little contact with them because they preferred to ignore Europeans. Instead of trading with them like other natives elsewhere in North America, they instead withdrew to the interior of the island.

There are two famous stories of Beothuks being captured by Europeans. In 1819, Demasduwit, re-named Mary March, was kidnapped with hopes that she would become a translator and intermediary between the English settlers and Beothuks. She soon died of tuberculosis.

Demasduwit's niece, a teenage girl named Shanawdithit, was the last known Beothuk. She was captured in 1823 and re-named Nancy. She spent the last six years of her life describing Beothuk culture and language to William Cormack, before she too died of tuberculosis.

Sometime after 1829, an elderly native woman named Santu sang a song in the Beothuk language for American anthropologist named Frank Speck while she was on her way to Nova Scotia and down to New England where he found her, 75-years-old. The song was once announced on CBC Radio on September 13, 2000. To hear the programming click on the external link below.

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