"Recent" Indians

Recent Indians lived at Port au Choix between 2000 and 800 years ago. We do not know if they did so continuously or discontinuously, as there is currently a gap in our series of Recent Indian radiocarbon elates between about 1900 and 1500 years ago. Recent Indian dates from Port au Choix overlap with well-established dates for Groswater Palaeoeskimo and Dorset Palaeoeskimo occupations of the area. However, overlapping radiocarbon dates do not necessarily mean contemporaneity since they are not exact, but are estimates to within a plus-or-minus factor of 100 to 200 years. As a result, dates that overlap by 100-200 years could mean either contemporaneity or a sequence of events.[…]

From about 1300 to 800 years ago Recent Indians lived at Port au Choix at what is now called the Spence site, in the middle of the modern town. When the site was occupied it was on the banks of a shallow inlet. As the sea level continued to fall, this eventually became shallower, until in the twentieth century it was no more than a tidal pool which the Town Council eventually filled in. When the Recent Indians were living there 1300 years ago, the Dorset Palaeoeskimo occupation of Phillip's Garden was coming to an end. Again, because dates are only estimates, Recent Indian and Dorset Palaeoeskimo occupations may have been contemporaneous or sequential.

Landscape and Livelihood

The location of Recent Indian sites in Port au Choix reflects their economic focus. While most Palaeoeskimos lived on exposed headlands because they were specialized hunters of marine animals, Recent Indians lived in more sheltered areas of Port au Choix, indicating a more generalized subsistence oriented towards land as well as sea.

Were the Beothuks ever in Port au Choix?

Beothuks were the indigenous inhabitants of Newfoundland at the time of seventeenth century European contact. They are thought to be descended from the youngest Recent Indian people whom archaeologists call Little Passage people and who date from about 800 to 400 years ago. The Beothuk are known less for how they lived than for how they died. A combination of events related to European colonization of Newfoundland brought about their demise. […] The last known Beothuk died, probably of tuberculosis, in AD 1829.

Source: M.A.P Renouf, "Recent Indians" in Ancient Cultures Bountiful Seas: the story of Port au Choix, (St. John's, NL: Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1999), 50-52.

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