Wednesday, 8 January 2020

the last of the beothuk

Kidnapped during a raid on her encampment over some allegedly stolen fishing equipment that resulted in the deaths of her family and sent away to live with a priest in a parish house in the capital of Newfoundland who christened her Mary March (for the Mother of God and surname in deference to the month she was abducted in), Demasduit died day in 1820 (*circa 1796) from tuberculous contracted during a failed attempt to repatriate her with her tribe.

While in St. John’s, the governor’s wife Lady Henrietta Hamilton painted Demasduit’s portrait, the people of the city and broader Notre Dame Bay raising funds for her journey home. Having expired aboard the ship as it crossed Red Indian Lake, her coffin was deposited on the shore with members of the Beothuk—only some thirty left at this point reunited her body with the grave of her husband Chief Nonosbawsut and her infant child. Demasduit’s niece who died a decade later, called Shanawdithit (“Nancy April”), also from tuberculosis, is regarded as the last of her tribe.