Lars Frühsorge: “Dead Indians Are Safer”. Die Beothuk in der Erinnerungskultur von Neufundland


The Beothuk were an indigenous group on the island of Newfoundland who became extinct in the 19th century. In this article I analyse how their history is represented and appropriated by contemporary inhabitants of the island. In fact, nonindigenous Newfoundlanders created a large number of museums, monuments, novels, poems, pop songs, YouTube videos etc. about the Beothuk, who are viewed as symbols of the islander’s identity in contrast to Mainland Canadians. In this context the Beothuk are imagined as an integral part of the island’s natural landscape and even their extinction is interpreted as an “ecological” event and not as genocide committed by the European colonizers. Surviving First Nations in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador like the Mi’kmaq have a different perspective. They view themselves as the only legitimate heirs of the Beothuk and play a key role in the current struggle to repatriate human remains from a museum in Scotland. They frequently participate in commemorative events and use them to lobby for their own social recognition and to turn public attention to current problems and political demand.

[Canada, Beothuk, Mi’kmaq, Innu, cultural memory, genocide]