FROM: "Appendix: Letter from the Lordbishop of Nova Scotia," S.P.G. Annual Report 1827 (London: S.P.G. and C.&J. Rivington, 1828), 85-88.

Additional information regarding the bishop's interest in Shanawdithit and the Boeothick Institution is documented in a correspondence of Inglis with Cormack, printed in James P. Howley, THE BEOTHUCKS OR RED INDIANS: THE ABORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF NEWFOUNDLAND (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915), 205-210. For a critical current discussion of Shanawdithit and the Boeothick Institution, see Ingeborg Marshall, A HISTORY AND ETHNOGRAPHY OF THE BEOTHUK (Montreal & Kingston, London, Buffalo: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996), 181-223 -- Hans Rollmann


BISHOP JOHN INGLIS' INTERVIEW WITH SHANAWDITHIT

Tuesday, 3d. This was the first day since I left Halifax that was devoted to personal gratification. The weather was fine, but as hot as I have ever felt it. While the ship was being provided with wood, we went in the boats about thirteen miles up the river to a rapid, where we landed, and walked about two miles to a splendid waterfall. The land is good, finely wooded with large timber, and the scenery is rich and picturesque. Mr. Peyton, who was with us, has twelve fishing stations for salmon along thirty miles of the river, and the abundance of seal, deer, wild fowl, and game of every description is surprising. But our interest in all we saw was greatly increased by knowing that this was the retreat of the Beothick, or red, or wild Indians, until the last four or five years. We were on several of their stations and saw many /85/ of their traces. These stations were admirably chosen on points of land, where they were concealed by the forest, but had long views up and down the river, to guard against surprise. When Cabot first landed, he took away three of this unhappy tribe, and from that day to the present they have had reason to lament the discovery of their island by Europeans. Not the least advancement has been made towards their civilization. They are still clothed in skins, if any remnant of their race be left, and bows and arrows are their only weapons. English and French, and Mic-Macs and mountaineers, and Labradors and Esquimaux shoot at the Beothick as they shoot at the deer. The several attempts that have been made under the sanction of Government to promote an intercourse with this race have been most unfortunate, though some of them had every prospect of success. An institution has been formed in the present year to renew these praiseworthy attempts, the expenses of which must be borne by benevolent individuals; and while I am writing, Mr. Cormack, the enterprising individual who was named in page 65 of this report, is engaged in a search for the remnant of the race; but as it is known that they were reduced to the greatest distress by being driven from the shores and rivers, where alone they could procure sufficient food, and none have been seen for several years, it is feared by some that a young woman who was brought in about four years ago, and is now living in Mr. Peyton's family, is the only survivor of her tribe. The Beothick Institution have now assumed the charge of this interesting female, that she may be well instructed and provided for. Mr. Cormack has only taken with him one Mic-Mac, one mountaineer, and one Canadian Indian, and they are provided with shields to protect them from arrows, that they may not be compelled to fire. If any remain, they are hidden in the most retired covers of the forest, which is chiefly confined to the margins of lakes and the banks of rivers. Mr. Cormack and his three companions are provided with various hieroglyphics and emblems of peace, and hope to discover the objects of their pursuit by looking from the tops of hills for their /86/ smoke, which may sometimes be seen at the distance of eight or ten miles in the dawn of a calm frosty morning. Who can fail to wish complete success to so charitable an attempt? We returned to our ship in the evening greatly delighted with every thing we had seen, but much exhausted with excessive heat; several of the party also suffered from the mosquitoes, which were innumerable.
Wednesday, July 4th. The weather continued fine, and we had a rapid sail down the river at an early hour in the morning, making only one stop at a beautiful fishing station on Sandy Point, from whence the Beothick a few years ago stole a vessel and several hundred pounds worth of property from Mr. Peyton. Between nine and ten we landed at Burnt Island, and while the clergy were engaged in assembling the people for service, I had some conversation with Shanawdithit, the Beothick young woman I have already mentioned. The history of her introduction to Mr. Peyton's family is soon related. In April, 1823, a party of furriers in the neighbourhood of the Exploits River followed the traces of some Red Indians, until they came to a wigwam or hut, from whence an Indian had just gone, and near it they found an old woman, so infirm that she could not escape. They took her to Mr. Peyton's, where she was kindly treated, and laden with presents. After a few days she was left at her wigwam, while the furriers searched for others. Two females were soon discovered, whose dress was but little different from that of the men. Though much alarmed, they were made to understand by signs that the old woman, who was their mother, was at hand. The man who had been first seen was their father, who was drowned by falling through the ice. The women were in such lamentable want of food that they were easily induced to go to Mr. Peyton's. He took them to St. John's, where every thing they could desire was given to them, and after a stay of ten days they were taken back to Exploits, and returned to their wigwam, in full confidence that an amicable intercourse with their tribe would be established. One of the young women, who had suffered some time from a /87/ pulmonary complaint, died as soon as she was landed. In a short time the other two returned to one of Mr. Peyton's stations nearly famished, and very soon after they arrived there the old woman also died, and Mr. Peyton has retained her daughter, Shanawdithit, in his family ever since. She is fond of his children, who leave their mother to go to her, and soon learned all that was necessary to make her useful in the family. Her progress in the English language has been slow, and I greatly lamented to find that she had not received sufficient instruction to be baptized and confirmed. I should have brought her to Halifax for this purpose, but her presence will be of infinite importance if any more of her tribe should be discovered. She is now twenty-three years old, very interesting, rather graceful, and of a good disposition; her countenance mild, and her voice soft and harmonious. Sometimes a little sullenness appears, and an anxiety to wander, when she will pass twenty-four hours in the woods, and return; but this seldom occurs. She is fearful that her race has died from want of food. Mr. Peyton has learnt from her that the traditions of the Beothick represent their descent from the Labrador Indians, but the language of one is wholly unintelligible to the other. All that could be discovered of their religion is, that they feared some powerful monster, who was to appear from the sea, and punish the wicked. They consider death as a long sleep, and it is customary to bury the implements and ornaments of the dead in the same grave with their former possessors. They believe in incantations. When the girl who died was very ill, her mother, who was of a violent and savage disposition, heated large stones, and then poured water upon them until she was encircled by the fumes, from the midst of which she uttered horrid shrieks, expecting benefit to her suffering child.[emphasis my own --HR]
Mr. Chapman had been diligent in visiting and instructing the people during our short absence in the upper part of the river. A congregation was assembled at eleven o'clock, and forty-nine persons were confirmed. All of these were /88/ very decorous in their whole behaviour, and many of them appeared sincerely devout. Shanawdithit was present. She perfectly understood that we were engaged in religious services, and seemed struck with their solemnity. Her whole deportment was serious and becoming. She was also made to understand my regret that her previous instruction had not been such as to allow of her baptism and confirmation, and my hope and expectation that she would be well prepared if it should please God that we met again. Mr. Peyton pledged himself that every possible endeavour should be made for this purpose.

(E-text furnished by Dr. Hans Rollmann; typed by Ms. Heather Russell; htmlized by Dr. Hans Rollmann)


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