Emma Lewis-Sing Abstract

The nature of Beothuk-European interactions is nothing short of complex. The most circulated narrative tells of Beothuk indigenous peoples moving inland from the central Newfoundland coast so as to distance themselves from the increased presence of Europeans, with whom they came to develop poor relations over contested subsistence resources. Isolation from these resources eventually led to Beothuk population decline. The understandings of Beothuk-European interactions upon which these interpretations are based are often reevaluated and revised as new lines of evidence are figured in. My research involves a macro-analysis of the palaeoethnobotanical (archaeological plant) record at the archaeological site of Ferryland (CgAf-02) on the east coast of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula in the hope of contributing to these interpretations. Multiple sediment samples were collected from contexts and hearth features associated with stone material manufactured by Beothuk peoples. In the same 16th-century strata for many of these features there is evidence for the presence of European migratory fishers. Previous subsample analyses of these sediments produced charred grape (Vitis sp.) seeds. As of yet, species has yet to be concretely determined but historical records suggest that Europeans offered raisins to Beothuk peoples they encountered which might account for deposition of these seeds. Full analysis of the remaining sediments offers the opportunity to further explore this hypothesis. Additionally, this research will contribute to the Ferryland narrative before permanent European settlement.

Emma Lewis-Sing