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Shanawdithit
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Native American Icon
    (circa 1801-June 6, 1829)
    Born in Newfoundland, Canada
    Also known as Shawnadithititis, Shawnawdithit, Nancy April, and Nancy Shanawdithit
    Widely considered to be the last known living member of the Beothuk
    Found along with her mother Doodebewshet and sister Easter Eve by fur trapper William Cull at Badger Bay (April 1823)
    Worked as a domestic servant for John Peyton, Jr. at Exploits, Newfoundland and Labrador (1823-September 1828)
    Drew pictures and told stories of Beothuk culture to William Epps Cormack, founder of the Boeothick Institution
    Died of tuberculosis in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
    Skull given to the Royal College of Physicians in London, then to the Royal College of Surgeons
    A portrait of her aunt Demasduit was often mistaken for her instead.
    For a long time, her people chose to avoid contact with whites, believing that they were evil spirits.
    Moreover, they had attacked white settlements, stolen iron from them, and killed the occasional white settler.
    During her time as a domestic servant, she often mocked the lady of the house whenever she spoke roughly to the servants.
    Despite being widely regarded as the last living Beothuk, there was oral evidence of some survivors up to 1910, albeit identifying with other cultures.
    Her skull was destroyed during World War IL, when the Germans bombed London.
    Her people were never numerous to begin with (numbering between 500 to 700 before the arrival of Europeans), leading to their eventual extinction from diseases, starvation from loss of vital food sources, and occasional attacks from outsiders.
    As a child, she was shot by a fur trapper while washing venison and survived.
    Her mother and sister died from tuberculosis shortly after the three women were brought to Exploits Island.
    She was described as attractive, intelligent, having a good sense of humor, and beloved by her employer's children.
    She was unable to return to her people for fear that she would be killed for interacting with whites.
    She was voted the most notable aboriginal person of the past 1,000 years by The Telegram's readers. (1999)
    Her death serves as a solemn reminder of the fragility of Canada's indigenous peoples and their cultures.

Credit: Big Lenny


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