By Ingeborg Marshall
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Extra resources for A History and Ethnography of the Beothuk
Howley found and published some of William E. Cormack's papers, which included information obtained from the Beothuk Shanawdithit and eleven of her 7 Introduction drawings. Rowley's work will remain a classic in the field. Indeed, his compilation has often been thought to represent all the information there is, which has discouraged researchers from looking for further documentation. However, Howley made no attempt to interpret the material or place it within an historical context; nor did he piece together the ethnographic information that is buried in the documents to elucidate Beothuk culture.
They were of a gentle disposition and given to laughter. The garments of the natives consisted of loincloths and furs that were draped over their shoulders. The hairy side was worn outward in summer and reversed in winter. Lacking iron, they had knives and arrow points of stone and spears made of burnt pieces of wood. A piece of metal from a broken sword and two silver rings in their possession were thought to indicate that they had traded with other Europeans. Beyond the practice of divination and a close heterosexual association resembling European marriage, their social organization and religious beliefs were thought to be "poorly developed" or nonexistent.
Once the "savages" had agreed to a truce, the English could give them presents of small value such as glass beads, bells, and bracelets and could undertake to defend them against their enemies. Eventually, so Peckham enthused, they could be educated and taught mechanical occupations, liberal arts, and sciences. In return for these benefits the English should be permitted to enjoy large areas of their land. However, if the natives did not yield to these means, if they used violence to repel the Christians or withheld the rights to their land for which the English so "painfully and lawfully adventured themselves hither," then it would be considered no breach of equity for the Christians to defend themselves, to pursue the natives, and to avenge themselves with force.