for SATB Choir
In March of 1819, Demasduit, one of the few remaining indigenous Beothuk of Newfoundland, was captured by a party of English fur-traders. Her husband, Nonosabasut, was killed in the struggle.
Demasduit spent just under ten months living amongst the English. The colonists planned to train and use her as an emissary in a desperate final-hour attempt to communicate with the few surviving Beothuk people.
Demasduit's health declined rapidly. She pined for her people, her murdered husband, and especially her young child. Her immune system was unused to European disease, and she became consumptive.
The colonial government eventually realized the futility of using Demasduit as a pawn in their bid for reconciliation, and the potential for embarrassment should she die in British custody. HMS Grasshopper was dispatched to return the captive to her people.
Captain Buchan and his crew were unable to locate any Beothuk. Demasduit became too ill to accompany the search parties. She died aboard ship, January 8, 1820.
John Peyton Jr., the man responsible for Demasduit's capture, guided the expedition to return her body. The men trekked through ice and snow for twenty-nine days, reaching Demasduit's former home on the northwest shore of Red Indian Lake, February 11, 1820.
The frames of two wigwams were still standing, while a third had been converted into a burial hut.
The body of Demasduit's husband, Nonosabasut, had been placed inside.
Demasduit's body was laid beside him.
If you would like to perform this piece, please feel free to download and print the pdf below. I would appreciate knowing when and where you perform the piece. If you would like a recording of the entire piece, please contact me.
1. Requiem of Ice and Snow - Excerpt