By Ingeborg Marshall
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Extra info for A History and Ethnography of the Beothuk
With the introduction of iron, the Beothuk produced fewer stone tools and by the mid-eighteenth century were making most of their tools from iron implements. A fuller account of the prehistoric habitation of Newfoundland, from Maritime Archaic Indians to the Beothuk, can be found in Part Two (chapter 16). But at the time Newfoundland was discovered by Europeans around AD 1500, the Beothuk are believed to have been the only permanent residents on the island. Other native groups may have travelled now and then to certain areas in Newfoundland to exploit resources.
Sixteenth-century information on the distribution of native people on the island does suggest, however, that they occupied the south coast west of Cape Race, the east and north-east coast between Cape Race and the Strait of Belle Isle, and the west coast of the country, particularly St Georges Bay. In this chapter the documents that claim to pertain to Newfoundland Indians are scrutinized with regard to their content as well as their authenticity, so as to establish how far they can be considered valid observations of Beothuk.
According to the historian Biggar, Thevet was unfamiliar with the local situation and was not scrupulous in differentiating between information from a variety of geographic areas occupied by different ethnic groups. Though some of his colourful description is compatible with what we know about the Beothuk, the Indians of his accounts do not emerge as people whose cultural traits clearly identify them as Beothuk. MEETINGS AND TRADE BETWEEN S I X T E E N T H - C E N T U R Y FISHING CREWS AND NEWFOUNDLAND INDIANS While early sixteenth-century records of the Newfoundland fishery are sketchy, one can nevertheless conclude that a modest fishing trade had been established by 1530.