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332 The Canadian Historical Review States. It touches on some of the social and political issues involved, but does not deal with ethical or legal questions. Within the limits that Calloway has set himself, this is a good introduction to the dynamics of the making of a nation. It will be much appreciated by students of North American history. OLIVE PATRICIA DICKASON University of Ottawa A History and Ethnography of the Beothuk. INGEBORG MARSHALL. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press 1996. Pp. xxiv, 640, illus. $45.00 Destined to dominate the Beothuk section of one's bookshelf, this si,xcentimetre -thick tome consists of separate parts on history and ethnography , each the result of exhaustive research. In the history ofpublications on the Beothuk, Ingeborg Marshall's effort, which draws on extensive work over two decades and shows a deep knowledge of Beothuk archaeology and history, is unprecedented. History comes first as a 250-page exploration, based largely on published and unpublished documentary sources, of the Beothuk, from European contact in the sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century . Shanawdithit, the last Beothuk whose name was known, died in 1829. Traditional Beothuk life is the subject of the book's second half, in which Marshall discusses archaeology, demography, clothing, social organization, subsistence, housing, transportation, mortuary practice, fighting, language, and other aspects of life and culture - all in 200 pages. The historical ethnography draws mainly on the same documentary sources as the first part as well as on archaeological evidence. The two-part structure - the fact that this is really two books in one - presents problems, including repetition and omission of needed background. The reader ofthe first part has questions about what kind of people the Beothuk actually were, as well as about their 'prehistory' before the sixteenth century, when they spoke a language that seems to have been distantly related to that spoken by people on the mainland. The reader wants to know about their gathering and hunting practices, as they looked for fish, shellfish, crustacea, birds, sea and land mammals , and plants for subsistence; as they lived out their lives in Newfoundland in social groups, fought most oftheir neighbours, and made sense oftheir world in culturally determined ways. Beothuk society and culture surely determined Beothuk actions, and one can argue that this way of life deserves a thorough airing before the relations between Beothuks and European immigrants are considered. Book Reviews 333 Reflecting the awkward relationship between these two parts is the separation of two of the appendices, which appear after the history section, from the other three, which appear in the usual place at the end of the book. In appendix 2 (to history), the name of Shanawdithit, whose drawings, artifacts, word lists, and memory provide significant insight on the Beothuk,1is not among the Biographies of Major Informants . But her name does appear in an appendix to ethnography dedicated to Beothuk names. Surely, Marshall would not want us to conclude that the Beothuk, with the exception ofa single individual, are relegated to non-history. Marshall reduces Beothuk 'history,' rooted in documents, largely to the history of European-Beothuk relations. The book's structure signals unequivocally that history arrived with literate European people, not . that it existed for the Beothuk before that period. Curiously, however, history is not even in the sagas or artifacts of the tenth-century Norse who lived at l'Anses aux Meadows and left Newfoundland as victims, perhaps, of 'scraelings' who were ancestors of the Beothuk. Marshall wants to present (and is convinced that she does) an 'authentic' history of the Beothuk. But what, precisely, does that mean? Her history begins (and ends) largely with the written record and assumes that there is a story awaiting release in a certain narrative structure. This approach is understandable, but it deserves discussion in a day when, for many, the history of indigenous peoples embraces and often privileges indigenous sources. Those hoping for acknowledgment of interpretive debates, in which many who write the anthropological history of Native people are currently embroiled, will be disappointed. Marshall is simply not interested in larger disputes over historiography. An alternative history, however, might begin with the Beothuk idea that they...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 332-334
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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