For Chief Nonos­aba­sut

Af­ter 10 years Grand Falls-Wind­sor class com­pletes quest to hon­our Beothuk chief

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - News - BY SA­MAN­THA GARDINER

Ten years ago a class of Grade 2 stu­dents set out on a mis­sion to have a fa­mous rock in Grand Falls-Wind­sor named af­ter a Beothuk chief named Nonos­aba­sut.

On Dec. 14, 2017, that mis­sion was ac­com­plished.

Nonos­aba­sut was the hus­band of De­mas­duit, bet­ter known by her English name, Mary March – the name­sake of the lo­cal mu­seum.

At the time, Ann Warr’s Grade 2 class was study­ing the Beothuk peo­ple and be­came de­voted to hon­or­ing them.

They lis­tened to the story of De­mas­duit, one of the last Beothuk and aunt to Shaw­na­dithit, who is known to have been the last liv­ing Beothuk.

De­mas­duit and her hus­band, Chief Nonos­aba­sut, had a new­born baby. In try­ing to save his wife and child, Nonos­aba­sut was fa­tally shot.

The baby died just days later.

The stu­dents thought of ways to bet­ter honor the loss of Beothuk life.

Through­out their school year the small class of Grade 2 stu­dents wrote let­ters to gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in Scot­land, re­quest­ing the skulls of De­mas­duit and her hus­band Nonos­aba­sut – which have been in a mu­seum in Scot­land since the late 1800s – be re­turned to New­found­land.

They wrote let­ters and started a pe­ti­tion re­quest­ing that the Mary March Mu­seum in Grand Falls-Wind­sor be re­named to honor De­mas­duit’s real name, and not her English name.

They wanted the name to be changed to “De­mas­duit’s Cen­tre of the Found­ing Peo­ples.”

“They thought that no­body has the right to take away some­body’s name,” ex­plained Danika Lewis – who was part of the project as a Grade 2 stu­dent 10 years ago – as she made a pre­sen­ta­tion at Wood­land Pri­mary on Dec. 14.

Nonos­aba­sut Rock

The class also wrote let­ters to the Town of Grand Falls-Wind­sor’s mayor and coun­cil re­quest­ing that a lo­cal rock de­pict­ing two faces in the Ex­ploits River be ded­i­cated to Nonos­aba­sut.

The idea of re­nam­ing the rock came about while the stu­dents were watch­ing a doc­u­men­tary called “Steal­ing Mary.”

One of the stu­dents piped up and said the face on the right side of the rock in the Ex­ploits River re­sem­bled Nonos­aba­sut.

The Grade 2 stu­dents de­cided the left face looked like a Euro­pean and the right face was a Beothuk.

The rock in ques­tion never had an of­fi­cial name, although lo­cals of­ten re­ferred to it as Head Rock, Skull Rock, Anvil Rock or In­dian Rock.

Ten years later, the Town of Grand Falls-Wind­sor has be­come the first in the province to rec­og­nize Nonos­aba­sut as a per­son of his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. Grand Falls-Wind­sor will of­fi­cially give this two-faced rock in the Ex­ploits River a name – Nonos­aba­sut Rock.

The town pur­chased a plaque to be erected on July 21 at the edge of the river on a walk­ing trail with a view of this rock.

The plaque de­picts an im­age of the rock with two zoomed im­ages show­ing the faces. The plaque also has a poem on it, writ­ten by one of Wood­land Pri­mary’s Kinder­garten teach­ers, Ch­eryl Burt.

The plaque was un­veiled at Wood­land Pri­mary on Dec. 14, 2017.

Warr, who has since re­tired, and three of those Grade 2 stu­dents – now in their first year of univer­sity – put off the event for chil­dren in Wood­land Pri­mary and in­vited guests.


Ann Warr and her for­mer Grade 2 stu­dent, Denkia Lewis, un­veil the plaque that will honor Nonos­aba­sut, Beothuk chief and hero.

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