The province of Newfoundland and
Labrador today is home to four peoples of Aboriginal
ancestry: the Inuit, the
Innu, the Micmac and the Metis.
The Inuit are the descendants of
the Thule people who migrated to Labrador from the Canadian
arctic 700 to 800 years ago. The primary Inuit settlements are
Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik and Rigolet on the north coast of
Labrador, but Inuit people are also found in a number of other
Labrador communities. They are represented by the Labrador Inuit
Dorset soapstone bear carving.
In the Arctic, Dorset artists using ivory, bone and wood, carved
bears, fish, birds and human faces, all in a remarkable style not
previously seen in the region. In Labrador, the preferred medium was
Courtesy of the Newfoundland Museum, St. John's, Newfoundland.
The Innu, formerly known as the
Naskapi-Montagnais, are descended from Algonkian-speaking
hunter-gatherers who were one of two Aboriginal peoples
inhabiting Labrador at the time of European arrival. The major
Innu communities in Labrador are Sheshatshiu on Lake Melville in
central Labrador and Utshimassit (Davis Inlet) on Labrador's
northern coast. Today the Innu are represented by the Innu
The Labrador Metis are descendants of Europeans and Labrador Native
people, primarily the Inuit, Labrador Metis today live in a number
of communities on the central and southern Labrador coast. They are
represented by the Labrador Metis Association which is currently attempting to
win acceptance of its Aboriginal status from the federal and provincial
Innu woman carrying tree boughs.
Spruce boughs are often used to line the floor of family tents in hunting camps.
Courtesy of Nigel Markham. From Peter Armitage, The Innu (The Montagnais-Naskapi) (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, ©1991) 54.
The Newfoundland Micmac are found on the island of Newfoundland.
They are descended from Algonkian hunter-gatherers whose homeland
included what is now Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, part of
New Brunswick, and the Gaspé peninsula. The largest Micmac
community is Conne River in Bay d'Espoir on the island's south
coast. Conne River is a reserve recognized by the federal
government and its people are represented by the Miawpukek Band
Council. Other people of Micmac descent live in central
Newfoundland and on the west coast of the island. They are
represented by the Federation of Newfoundland Indians.
The Beothuk were the aboriginal
inhabitants of the island of Newfoundland. They were
Algonkian-speaking hunter-gatherers who once occupied most of the
island. As a result of a complex mix of factors, the Beothuk
became extinct in 1829 when Shanawdithit, the last known Beothuk,
died in St. John's.
©1997, Ralph T. Pastore
Archaeology Unit & History Department
Memorial University of Newfoundland