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January 8, 2010

Beothuk Quick Fact

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One thing that is known about the Beothuk was their love of the color red. While the use of red ocre was common among Native Americans, no other tribe used it as extensively as the Beothuk. They literally covered everything – their bodies, faces, hair, clothing, personal possessions, and tools – with a red paint made from powdered ochre mixed with either fish oil or animal grease. It was also employed in burials. The reasons are unknown, but speculation has ranged from their religion (about which we know very little) to protection from insects. The practice was so excessive, even the Micmac referred to them as the Red Indians, and it is believed the term “redskin” used for Native Americans probably originated from early contacts between European fishermen and Beothuk.

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