By Ingeborg Marshall
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Additional info for A History and Ethnography of the Beothuk
Before returning home, he captured fifty-eight Indians. A messenger who heard about Gomes's landing in Coruna, Spain, spread the news that Gomes had brought cloves (clavos) instead of slaves (esclavos), which caused much laughter once the mistake was discovered. 17 The capture and enslavement of native people was the likeliest cause of hostile reactions from Indians towards fishing crews and other visitors. For example, in 1527 the crew of the English ship Mary Guildford encountered hostility after entering the coastal waters either of Newfoundland or of Labrador.
In their home environment, the native people were said to hunt and fish, using bows and arrows, spears, darts, slings, and wooden clubs. They also gathered plant foods. 6 They were said to go naked in summer and to clothe themselves in winter with furs. 7 Some of them were said to have consumed human flesh but to have concealed this activity from their chief. While the appearance and practices of these people are consistent with what we know about Beothuk, the recorded information is equally applicable to other northeastern Indians and is simply too general to identify a specific ethnic group.
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.
A History and Ethnography of the Beothuk by Ingeborg Marshall