The mysterious, extinct
native inhabitants of the island of Newfoundland
These natives used a red ochre dye to cover their bodies, and it is from this appearance that the expressions red men
were coined by European visitors in the 1500s.
While it is believed that the Beothuk drove the Vikings
out of Newfoundland
, the Beothuk avoided contact with later, more heavily armed Europeans. The Beothuk also fought a losing war with the southerly Mi'kmaq
natives. Inevitable conflicts with later European settlers led to violence and the Beothuks retreated away from settlements. By 1800, due to starvation, prior conflict with the Mi'kmaq
natives, and a shoot on sight practice common amongst settlers, the numbers of Beothuk had dwindled precipitously. Nancy Shanawhdit
, the last known Beothuk, died in 1829.