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Birds, Burials and Sacred Cosmology of the Indigenous Beothuk of Newfoundland, Canada

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 February 2013

Todd J. Kristensen
Department of Anthropology, 13-15 HM Tory Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H4, Canada Email:
Donald H. Holly Jr
Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Eastern Illinois University, 600 Lincoln Avenue, Charleston, IL 61920, USA Email:


The Indigenous Beothuk of Newfoundland disappeared as a cultural entity in the early nineteenth century. Prior to this, the Beothuk had few direct interactions with Europeans, and those that occurred were generally of a hostile nature. As a result, very little is known about Beothuk religious life. Drawing on available ethnohistoric records, an analysis of burial site locations and funerary objects, we offer an interpretation of Beothuk sacred cosmology that places birds at the centre of their belief system.

Copyright © The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 2013 

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