Maritime Archaic "Red Paint People"     

 One of the strangest and most ignored archaeological peoples is the “Red Paint People” or “Maritime Archaic”. Most people who have studied them have had their careers destroyed because there claims about their age and technology have been so outlandish. These traits being the sheer age of the sights and skeletons found dating back too 7000 B.C. Secondly that they were a sea fearing society that fished for deep water species of fish such as Swordfish and Cod. They also hunted walrus and seals both giant mammals which can wreck a flimsy boat. The tools and artifacts in their gravesites are very complex such as deep water sinkers and hooks, adzes and wood working tools which lead people too believe they used dugout seafaring canoes like on the West coast of Canada. No doubt they had watertight skin and hide covered lightweight canoes and kayaks like the Inuit of the Canadian North whom they must have come in contact with. The sights and burials mostly include Red Ochre a natural naturally tinted clay containing mineral oxides like bog iron which give it its red hue. Yellow and gold and purple are also possible. From earliest times man has used these colures too adorn caves and graves art and themselves.       When the first artifact  were found in 1882 on a riverbank in New England which was oozing red ocher by a farmer who brought the local mayor out too do the first excavations the questions started too arise. A nearby mound was found and excavated too find a stone shrine with offerings around it like one which would be found a 80 years later in the Canadian Artic. The material the arrow and spear heads found were made of was like no other on the East Coast. It would be a hundred years later that the source would be identified a Ramah Chert from a quarry in Northern Labrador Can 1500 Nautical Miles from New England. This proved just how far traveled the Red Paint People were. It was not till 1930 that Skeletons were found in Blue Hill Bay in Maine U.S.A. in 1930 under a “Shell Midden” which started too ooze Red Ochre. Shell Middens are huge piles of shell fish and refuse which over thousands of years build up too huge pile which from the sea are visible from miles away and are beacons and markers too passers by. They are prehistoric and are found from Spain too the Artic and down the coast of North America. They are excellent for the preservation of artifacts. Three Skeletons were found covered with red ochre as well a detachable tagle “detachable” harpoons and the remains or sword fish which again indicated deep sea fisherman. Other sights were found in Newfoundland and along the St Lawrence River.     

Normal Archeology is too boring lets move this along. The only people who have said that these people were regular Native Americans were the National Geographic and the Smithsonian Museum. Every other person who has studied the remains has come up with different results. The most definitive and recent is a sight in Florida called Windover Bay. Go too sight called "Ancient Florida Bog Mummies" Over a hundred skeletal remains were found whose D.N.A. were found too come from Europeans and dated from 6 and 7 thousand B.C. Yes that’s right. David Hatcher Childress calls the Red Paint people "A Trans Polar Culture" with exact sites and burials showing up in Scandinavia right through the artic too Siberia. A 1981 article in the Boston Globe Newspaper reported that headline that "Europeans in New England 7000 Years Ago" James P. Whittall Snd. of the "Early Sites Research Society" said after several experts had examined the remains that the man was 5foot9 left handed approx 54 years old when he died suffered from otosclerosis an ear disease rarely seen in non-Caucasians but most commonly seen in white skinned blue eyed people. Amino acid racemization tests and radio carbon 14 tests dated this skeleton dubbed the "Old Irish Guy" at 7200 years old or 5000 B.C. The article went on too say he probably came from Ireland and had stocky legs as result of running or I think hauling in fishing nets and big fish. Whittall and the "Early sites Research Society" and N.E.R.A.are responsible for some great research along the East Coast like "American Stonehenge" great work please give them a look.             

 From the first discovery in 1882 people have drawn there own conclusions and connected the dots even more loosely than I have. Here are some obscure books and references which I quote from "Pre-Columbian Contact with the Americas across the Oceans' by John L.Sorenson and Martin H.Raish the definitive book on pre-Columbian contact. D-098B 1900 Peter De Roo "History of America before Columbus" He suggests Midden-Makers and mound builders were common on both to Eastern North America and Northwestern Europe.G106 G108 Gutorn Gjessing 1944 1953 "Circumpolar Stone Age" he notes" no where on the globe are there to be found prehistoric remains so closely related morphologically as those in North Norway and those of the east coast of North America. For a minute in time he people listened too his "Diffusion Theory" He also sights check stamped clayware and 15 out of 300 stories of myth were circumboreal" extended through Northern Hemisphere with only one among the Inuit. This work was cut short due too WW11. He worked an extensive sight In Varanger Fiord Norway which had the deep sea fishing tools plummets "fishing sinkers" and Shamanic altar "identical with one  later found in Nulliak Cove Labrador Can. by Dr. William Fitzhugh, who in 1980 who found house or shelter foundation identical to Varanger Fiord Norway in Labrador. F108b 1975 1985 Will W Fitzhugh had several publications exstensive field work in 1980 found the northern most point of Red Paint contact at North Nulliak Bay Lab Can. He found 26 house foundations in rows like sea side condos, extensive artifacts were found. Feather in cap for finding first house foundations. Publications were disappointing since he was too closely working with the "History Man" he could not connect the dots with a circumpolar culture. His Altar Stone at Nulliak Bay is and exact parallel with the one from Varanger Norway complete with offerings scattered around it at both sights. S408b 1990 Kevin Stanton "Visitors to America in Pre Columbian times" states that "Archaic Maritime culture was a continuum on both sides of the ocean". He also mention the Peterborough sight in his book which is in one of my other stories, a very smart man. T069b 1992 Gunnar Tompsom "American Discovery" the real story states Red Paint people followed migratory seabirds to the Americas along the retreating Northern Ice sheets 9000 too 2000 B.C. K035 1962 Alice Kehoe “A Hypothesis on the Origin of Northeastern American Pottery" says Both woodland pottery and perhaps the concept of burial mounds was transmitted to Northeastern North America by Northwestern Europeans at the end of the third millennium B.C. substancial plank-built ships were sailing the Atlantic coasts of Europe by middle of third millennium B.C. I saved her too last because she brought up a subject in her book that is a loose link too what I believe. I will Quote her first. She suggests parallels and possibility of the "Bell Beaker" or "Corded Ware" cultures of Europe exploring for copper in America. Perhaps exploring for copper through the Peterborough Sight. I contend that elements of the Maritime Archaic could be responsible for the spread the the megolithic "Standing Stone Culture" through Europe Ferro’s Islands,  Scandinavia and the 200 or so sights in North America. i.e. American Stonehenge. Brings us to e86b 1990 Sam Enslow "The Art of Prehispanic Clombia" An illustrated Cultural and Historic Survey. Sam hints at a connection between the people of New England and Purto Hormiga Columbia in ancient times. On the other side of the ocean Red Paint burials extent too all the coast of Spain. We are talking about a sea fearing culture born out of the last ice age. Ships cars and spacecraft have always been at the cutting edge of man's technology the more dangerous the better. The wonder lust too see what’s over the next hill or the next wave has always been mans driving force. That is how we populated the world in such a short time. Doing it by boat is just more efficient. Now that we have spanned the ocean from Spain too Columbia lets stretch the time back on both sides of the ocean as far as we can with the most significant features of civilization. In North America this occurs at L'Anse Amour Labrador Canada where you have Red Ochre burials accompanied by identical elaborate grave goods plus a "standing stone" with a "rock cairn" meaning covered with rocks built up with Earth making it the oldest known Mound Burial in North America dated by two fires at the sight to 5500B.C. Several North American Firsts. In Europe circa 5200B.C. in Teviac which is an island off Brittany Spain we find a Red Ocre burial grave goods a standing stone rock cairn and Mound. Both graves were surrounded by standing stones making them tomb or passage graves from the future "Megalith Culture" some of the first and oldest in Europe.     Prof Gram Clark of Cambridge University studied sites on both sides of the ocean and reported early megalithic builders economy was based on the sea and fishing not farming. He also notes that Maritime Archaic and Neolithic Megalithic building sites are in close proximity on both sides of the Ocean. I could not ask for more.      Now D.N.A. and the cultural traits lead me too believe that these hunting caveman fisherman came form the Solutrean culture or Magdalenian Culture of France and Spain dated 15000 to 9000 B.C. These robust Cro-Magnons who were moving into Europe as the ice retreated were having problems finding enough food. We know from there Shamanic art and Cave painting that some but not all adapted too catching sea mammals and fish. Cave paintings of Walrus seal and fish are not very prominent in caves which means that they were put in last when all the good art spots were full. Gradually or quickly they mastered a sea fearing society based on boats for chasing wounded animals and harpoons and special spear tips for water mammal hunting. When they had boats they chased the seal and game birds north following the pack ice and newly emerging land until technology enabled them too make an  accidental crossing of the Atlantic. The ocean levels were much closer then and the continental shelf of New Found Land extended 100s of miles more out into the Atlantic. Once across they would land swear never too sail again find proper stone and start the Clovis Culture of big game hunting like there ancestors did in Europe. But some stayed with the water and traveled south. Others made the journey back too Europe and other crossings were made over thousands of years. Remember there just weren’t many people back then they might travel for tens of years before meeting another family group. Go too "Sulutreans the first Americans" Youtube. You will get the idea and "Ancient Florida Bog Mummies" see some Archeology they can't hold back any more.           



Above is a reasonable representation of what the Red Paint People looked like 

Above is Skara Brae which I believe was an outpost of the Red Paint People. No red ochere but the live bait wells in the houses and 

the huge shell midden it is built on equal sea ferring society

Port au Choix National Historic Site of Canada

History    (

Maritime Archaic Traditions

The Maritime Archaic Indians were the earliest known people to frequent the Port au Choix area. They were called this for two reasons: "Archaic" because these people were hunters and gatherers and did not farm, and "Maritime" because they relied on the sea and its products to sustain themselves.

The Maritime Archaic Indian tradition dates from 7500-3500 years before present (B.P.). These peoples lived throughout Atlantic Canada, Maine, and ranged into parts of Northern Labrador. Their ancestors, the Palaeoindians, arrived in Labrador around 9000 B.P. Archaeologists are able to distinguish this group of people by their use of marine resources, their beautifully crafted ground and polished slate knives, distinctive bone artifacts, and their ceremonial burials, which included using cemeteries and red ochre.

Maritime Archaic Indian Tools (Top to bottom: bone spear point, bone harpoon heads, slate bayonet)
Maritime Archaic Indian Tools (Top to bottom: bone spear point, bone harpoon heads, slate bayonet)
©Parks Canada

Port au Choix contains three Maritime Archaic cemeteries, where burials took place between 4400 and 3300 years B.P. An excavation at Point Amour, in Southern Labrador, uncovered an elaborate burial of a 12 year old child that dates back to 7500 B.P. The sites have provided a rich variety of bone, stone, antler and ivory tools, as well as weapons and ornaments. The items found here have provided information on various aspects of Maritime Archaic society including their magical and religious beliefs and practices.

Health and Life Expectancy

The 117 skeletons uncovered in the cemetery were fairly equally divided along sex lines. The Maritime Archaic Indians' height was on average 5'6" for males and 5'3" for females. Studies done on the skeleton collection indicate that there was a high infant mortality rate among the group. One-third of the young died before the age of two, and only one-half lived to adulthood. However, those who reached adulthood lived on average 43 years and some would reach their 50's.

These people were healthy. The major disease found was arthritis mostly in the arms and hands, which is common for a physically active lifestyle. There were a few incidents of healed fractures, but nothing to indicate excessive violence. Only four cavities were found among the skeletons studied. This can be related to a diet that had no sugar. The teeth were well worn however, from years of eating a gritty diet (coarse meat) and from chewing hides to soften them. They were often so worn down that the pulp was exposed, leading to an infection that would have been quite painful.

Two cases of a very rare disease called Histiocytosis X was found in two young children. It is believed to be a genetic disease, which afflicts one in two million people today. The first evidence of this disease is that found in the Maritime Archaic Cemetery at Port au Choix.

Hunting Fishing and Gathering

The people of Port au Choix, referred to as Northern Hunters and Gatherers, lived off the natural resources of the land and sea rather than by agriculture.

The hunting tools and bones of animals, fish and birds discovered in the graves indicated that the people of Port au Choix crafted efficient weapons to exploit their environment.

No evidence of collecting activities has survived, but these people, sensitive to their natural environment, must have gathered the berries, birds' eggs and shellfish that even today are common around Port au Choix.

Hand Crafts

Artifacts also show techniques used in crafts and manufacturing. Trees were felled with ground stone axes. Stone or ivory adzes and stone gouges were used for shaping. Fine woodworking was done with small knives made from beaver teeth in wood or antler handles. One of these knives was found intact at Port au Choix. It resembles the "crooked knife" made from iron and wood that is still used by many northern peoples. Bone, antler and slate were favoured raw materials.

Clothing and Decoration

Canada's native people of several thousand years ago are often pictured braving the elements in no more than a crude skin wrap. Despite the disintegration of all the clothing in the graves, there is evidence that the people of Port au Choix dressed for the cool climate of northern Newfoundland. Fine needles made of bird bone, some with eyes less than 0.5 mm wide, probably were used to sew the tight seams needed for waterproof boots, leggings or jackets.

Every effort was made to decorate the clothing. Rows of seal claws, small bone pendants, and beads adorned the lower hem of shirts or jackets. Shell beads and other ornaments were sewn on caps or hats.

Carving of Killer Whale
Carving of Killer Whale
©Parks Canada

Art, Magic and Religion

Among most native North American peoples there was, and still is, a close relationship between art and religious practices. We can assume that the same was true for the people of Port au Choix. The small art objects that they wore and the carvings that decorated their possessions were not only cherished for their beauty but also for their magical powers. By carrying the image of a gull, merganser, loon, or other diving bird, the owner hoped to acquire the bird's skill in fishing; the carving of a bear might increase the strength of its wearer. A beautifully carved killer whale nearly 20 cm long indicates the great respect the Maritime Archaic Indians had for this mammal, it's strength and hunting abilities. The burials themselves show a preoccupation with life after death. The red ochre sprinkled over the bodies was a symbol of life. The many tools, weapons, and ornaments included in the graves indicate a belief in a life after death that was much like life on earth.

What Happened to the Maritime Archaic Indians?

The Maritime Archaic disappeared from Port au Choix and the rest of the island by 3200 years B.P. The disappearance of these people from the island of Newfoundland is a puzzle. Perhaps some as yet undiscovered site will reveal this answer just as the site at Port au Choix has revealed many other answers about the Maritime Archaic Indians.



Culture History of the Lower North Shore


Early Cultures


Early Cultures

At the end of the Ice Age Paleo-Indian big game hunters were living on the Continental Shelf lowlands. When rising seas created the Gulf of St. Lawrence 10-12,000 years ago these groups retreated to high beaches and terraces along the coast LNS. As the land was released from the weight of glacial ice, shorelines decreased and successive peoples camped on new beaches as they were formed. Today, as in the past, people tend to live near the active shore. To find the most ancient Indian sites one must hunt on the highest shorelines. Scallop and mussel shells excavated from one of these ancient beaches in Harrington Harbor are 8000 years old.

While fluted point Paleo-Indians probably lived on the highest marine terraces along the LNS, the earliest evidence so far from Maritime Archaic Indians, whose 6-8,000 year old sites are found on high beaches in Blanc-Sablon, Old Fort, Mutton Bay, and Chevery. These sites include artifacts made from quartz and ground stones. Bone tools and harpoons would have been present but have not been preserved. Towards the end of this period human burials appear for the fisrt time. The l’Anse Amour Burial Mound in southern Labrador contained an adolescent male buried with a toggling harpoon and a decorated harpoon line toggle and slender stone spear points. Similar mounds, among the earliest known in North America, have been found near Blanc Sablon.

Between 4-5,000 years ago, toward the end of the warm Hypsithermal period, the descendants of these early LNS Indians were part of a widespread Maritime Archaic culture known from Maine to Newfoundland and northern Labrador as the Maritime Archaic. By this time burial mounds were replaced by ‘red paint’ cemeteries. These ‘red paint’ cemeteries contained individuals and grave goods covered with a thick layer of red iron oxide. The Maritime Archaic culture had a strong maritime focus, although caribou and land game were also important. As their burial practices shifted from single mound burials to centralized cemeteries, MA dwellings changed from small 2-3 family dwellings to large multi-family longhouses. Group sizes increased, society grew more complex, and long-distance trade in native copper, birch bark, and Ramah chert, found only in northern Labrador, brought people into contact from Maine to Labrador. A cache of partially-finished slate axes and gouges made of Newfoundland slate was found while excavating a house foundation in Brador and objects made from this material have been found in MA sites from the LNS to northern Labrador. Conversely, Labrador Maritime Archaic points made of Ramah chert have been found as far south as Maine. 

Scattered MA tools and red paint cemetery finds from a gravel pit in Tabatière reveal that Maritime Archaic peoples also lived along the LNS. The gravel pit was destroyed by road-building. In 2002-3 we excavated a 4,000-year old longhouses at Petit Mécatina 1 (EdBt-1) and Belles Amours Point (EiBi-19). Other MA sites and cemeteries will probably be found as far west as Natashquan.

Later Indian Cultures

Around 3600 B.P. Labrador Maririme Archaic culture was replaced by a more interior-oriented culture with ties to the west in the Upper St. Lawrence Valley. The Intermediate and Late Period Indian cultures that followed balanced their coastal and interior hunting territories, spending the summers on the coast fishing and the winters on the interior hunting caribou. During the next 3000 years, LNS Indians found their LNS coastal territories occupied several times by Palaeo-Eskimo cultures (Groswater and Dorset cultures) and after AD 1600 by Inuit who periodically expanded their Labrador settlements areas into the Gulf. These incursions disrupted Innu societies and may be responsible for for rapid succession of different Indian cultures that occupied the LNS and Labrador between 2500-1500 years ago. By AD 700 these people become recognizable archaeologically as the ancestors of the modern Innu Indian people who currently reside along the LNS. The appearence of Inuit (Eskimo) and Europeans on the LNS between 1600-1750 resulted in Innu people becoming strongly oriented toward interior caribou hunting and the fur trade. Eventually hostilities with Innu and Europeans caused the most Inuit to retreat north to Cartwright and Hamilton Inlet. Today the LNS villages are a mix of Innu, Inuit, and various European people. Indians still maintain a strong attraction to hunting and trapping on the interior while Inuit and Europeans largely work as fisherman and seasonal seal-hunters.

Arctic peolple on the LNS

After 4000 years ago the warm Holocene climate began to cool and Paleo-Eskimos people from Siberia and Alaska migrated into the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, and Labrador. Throughout the Pre-Dorset period (4000-2800 BP) Inuit people remained in northern Labrador, but after 2,800 their successors, Groswater culture, began expanding south, reaching Newfoundland and the LNS by 2,500 BP. The Groswater expansion was facilitated by onset of a cold period that expanded Arctic marine conditions south to Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. With the ice came large numbers of sea mammals-especially milions of harp seals that migrate annually from summer ranges in Greenland to winter stations in the Gulf and around Newfoundland where they give birth and wean their pups on the water sea ice. Groswater sites lasted several hundred years on the LNS, ending apparently when warmer winters brought a collapse of the Gulf harp seal herd. The Groswater intrusion into former Indian territories must have created difficulties fot the Indians groups who relied on the LNS for summer salmon fishing and sealing. A second Palaeo-Eskimo culture known as Dorset, arrived from the north about 2,000 BP. Dorsets occupied the entire Island of Newfoundland for until about AD 700, but only a few small Dorset sites are found on the LNS, perhaps because of Indian resistance. 

A third Inuit occupation of the Gulf began after the first Europeans arrived in Newfoundland waters. The whale-hunting Thule culture arrived in the Canadian Arctic from Alaska about AD 1350. Thule people, with sledge dogs, large skin umiaks, and Siberian-style bows and arrows rapid replaced (and possibly assimilated) the less powerful people and advanced south into Labrador, reaching the Strait of Belle about the same time as Europeans. By the 1550s Inuit raiding parties were terrorizing Europeans fisherman, burning their fishing stations and taking boats, sails, and iron tools. By 1600 Inuit began to settle permanently along the LNS as far west as Harrington Harbor. The Gateways Project has discovered several Inuit winter sites dating between 1600-1750 between Brador and Cape Whittle. In this case the cold Little Ice Age and presence of a large population of harp seal combined with prospects for European trade and plunder made the Gulf a favorable Inuit settlement area, even if it was far from a normal Inuit Arctic habitat. Over time, however, the combined military pressure from well-armed Europeans and their Indian allies caused the Inuit to retreat back to their current southern settlement limit on the central Labrador coast. In the 19th century a few Inuit families returned LNS villages like St. Augustine, joining Innu, Newfoundlanders, and others who make up the present-day population of the LNS.

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