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AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
HELD AT PHILADELPHIA
PROMOTING USEFUL KNOWLEDGE .
JANUARY TO DECEMBER, 1990.
(Read before the American Philosophical Society, January 3, 1890.)
Among the three vocabularies which I have recently had the good fortune of receiving, there is one just as old as the century, and another comes from an aged person who has actually heard words of the larguage pronounced by a Beothuk Indian. I take pleasure in placing these lists before the Society, together with a number of new ethnographic facts gathered in the old haunts of the extinct race, which will prove to be of scientific value.
Since my first article the following publications on the Beothuk Indians have come to my notice : Blake, Mrs. Edith: “The Beothuk Indians," in the monthly periodical,
Nineteenth Century (Kegan & Co., publishers, London), December, 1888, pp. 899-918. This article contains important extracts from J. Cartwright's manuscript and interesting details about Shanandithit. An American reprint of the Nineteenth Century is published by Leonard
Scott, New York City. Murray, Chas. Aug. (author of the “Prairie Bird,” etc.): “The Red In.
dians of Newfoundland.” Philadelphia : T. B. Peterson, 98 Chestnut street (no date, about 1850 ?); illustrated. The book is pure
fiction ; the first chapter alone contains some ethnologic points. Now York Herald, Correspondence of. Date specified below. Stearns, Winfrid Alden : “Labrador : A Sketch of its Peoples, its Indus
tries,” etc. Boston: Lee & Shepard, 1884. Small 8vo, 8 and 295 pages. The description, pp. 254-272, suggests interesting comparisons of the Labrador Indians with the Beothuks. PROC. AMER. PAILOS, soc. XXVIII. 132. A. PRINTED FEB. 12, 1890.
Storm, Prof. Gustav : “Studies on the Vineland Voyages.” In Mémoires
de la société royale des antiquaires du Nord ; nouvelle série. Copenhague, 1888. 8vo. The Beothuks are spoken of, pp. 361, 362. Storm assumes, that the Helluland of the Norse explorers was Labrador;
Vineland, Nova Scotia ; Markland, Newfoundland. The Harbor Grace Standard and Conception Bay Advertiser : Linguistic
and biographic article. Date specified below.
While returning from one of his annual explorations in the autumn of 1882, Mr. James P. Howley met Mr. Duggan, who owns a settlement at La Scie, one of the more northern harbors of Newfoundland, in northeast part of the isle ; he informed him that numerous stone implements and utensils had at various times been found in his neighborhood, especially at Pacquet and Fleur-de-lys harbors,* and that the officers of the French men-of-war, as well as the fishermen of that nationality, who annually frequent that part of the island, took away many of these relics. He noticed that the marine officers took special care in collecting such specimens, and hence they may have been commissioned to do so by one or some of the scientific institutions of France. At Fleur-de-lys, he stated, many stone pots were found, the material having been evidently quarried from the steatite rock occurring in the neighborhood. Many cavities are seen in the rock corresponding with the size of the pots themselves, while others are still there half-grooved out. His description of the process, by which he supposed the Indians performed this difficult task, struck Mr. Howley forcibly as being identical with the one described in Lieut. Geo. M. Wheeler's “ Reports," Vol. vii, pp. 117–121 (“ The Method of Manufacture of Soapstone Pots.” By Paul Schumacher; with illustration exhibiting method, p. 121).
A pipe of black marble found on an island in White Bay, and given away by Mr. Duggan's father to one of the French ship captains about 1850, had a large bowl and was beautifully finished, but part of the stem was broken off. The carved figure of what seemed to be a dragon rested against the inner side of the bowl, with its head projecting over the edge of the latter, while the tail was twisted around the stem (a similarly carved pipe from Vancouver's Island was deposited in the Geological Museum, Ottawa). Before this it had always been asserted that the Beothuks were not acquainted with tobacco or any narcotic usages; but they had a word for tobacco, nechwa, and kinnikinnik as well as red-rod are abundant upon the island ; when the Micmacs have run short of the white man's tobacco, they make use of these. Black marble exists not far from where the pipe was found.
While engaged in locating land and making a survey of the Bay of Exploits during the summer season of 1886, Mr. J. P. Howley had the opportunity of conversing with some of the oldest settlers, who saw and remembered well the last individuals of the Red Indian race. He also collected a number of relics from an old burial place of theirs, which was known as such to the fishermen for the last thirty-five years, and hence had been ransacked repeatedly and by different parties. Lloyd visited it when there and took away everything he could find. While overhauling this interesting spot, Mr. Howley found a number of curiously fashioned and carved bone ornaments, with fragments of human skeletons scattered about. The latter appear to be of little scientific value. In another part of the Great Bay of Notre Dame, the interesting and valuable find of the mummified body of a boy, about ten years old, was made. Besides this, the following objects were found there and afterwards placed on exhibition at St. John's, in 1886 :—the skull and leg bones of an adult male, several stone implements, a large number of ingeniously carved bone ornaments, models of canoes, cups, dishes, etc., made of birch bark, beautifully sewn together and all daubed with red ochre ; fragments of deer-skin dresses, models of bows, arrows, paddles, a package of dried fish bound up in a casing of birch bark, and other articles. In the mummy a few of the neck vertebræ are disconnected, and one of the hands is missing, but otherwise the body of the boy is perfectly preserved. It is doubled up with the knees against the stomach, feet slightly crossed, arms folded across the chest, and when found it lay on the left side. The skin is intact, even the finger and toe nails being uninjured. The fleshy portions appear to have dried up completely, leaving only the bones encased in the shrunken and wrinkled skin, which latter has the appearance of dressed deer skin or well-tanned chamois. The whole was encased first in a deer-skin robe, then placed into a casket of birch bark neatly and closely sewn together, being apparently almost air-tight. The mummy bore a close resemblance to the Alaskan mummy preserved in the National Museum in Washington, and described by Mr. William H. Dall, in Vol. xxii of “Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge,” 1878, 4to. The reason why this body was interred with so much care, provided with fine and new clothing and accompanied with food, tools and spare garments, must be sought for in the tender years of the deceased child, which needed more care and support on its peregrinations toward the future abode of the soul than an adult would require.
* Fleur-de-lys island and harbor is situated near Partridge Point, in 50° 7" Lat.
The same find is referred to in the article on the Beothuk by Mrs. Blake, and in a correspondence of The New York Herald from St. John's, N. F., dated October 23, 1886, where the locality is distinctly specified as being on Pilley's island, Notre Dame Bay. That bay may be described as forming the northern part of the Bay of Exploits, one of the old homes of the Red Indian people; the island is situated about 550 42' Long. west of Greenwich, and 490 35' Lat. The Herald correspondent adheres to the old and mistaken idea that the Beothuks are a branch of the Algonkin family. His statements, not included in the reports of others, are as follows: