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Blood Red Ochre

TitleBlood Red Ochre
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1989
AuthorsMajor, Kevin
PublisherDelacorte Press
CityNew York
DescriptorsBeothuk; English Language; First Nations; Historical Fiction; History; Newfoundland and Labrador; Novel; School; Travel; Young Adult

In this young adult novel by Newfoundland author Kevin Major, the stories of David, a modern Newfoundland teenager, and Dauoodaset, a Beothuk indian, intersect. David chooses to do a school project on the Beothuk with Nancy, a girl in his class. She insists that they travel to Red Ochre Island, a burial place of the Beothuk. There, David witnesses the Beothuk way of life and the final extinction of the tribe.


Newfoundland and Labrador

Age Range


Author Profile: 

Blood Red Ochre is structured around two major plotlines. The first set in the present-day Newfoundland and follows David, a teenager coming to terms with the recent discovery that his father is not his real father. The second is set in seventeenth-century Newfoundland and follows Dauoodaset, a Beothuk native traveling with a small band who are trying to survive the winter in order to find an area of ocean-bordered land that is not occupied by the whiteman. The two stories develop separately until David meets Nancy, a new student who seems mysteriously connected to the history of the Beothuks. Blood Red Ochre
is a young adult historical/fantasy fiction. David's plotline is written in third-person, whereas Dauoodaset's is told from a first-person perspective.


David: "Why David decided to string a piece of leather through it the night before and start wearing it, he wasn’t really sure. The Beothuks were extinct, and there wasn’t a great deal known about them. He knew his wearing the pendant had something to do with his own feeling of having a past that he didn’t know much about. And something to do with keeping a secret that would always only be his." (3)

Dauoodaset: "When I look back from my canoe to our mamateek and see no heavy morning smoke as there would be when first we came to this place, and none of my people standing there to watch me as I go, I feel again the hurt of what we have lost. The pain in my body mixes with the burn of my will to set all that is wrong to right again. I can have no fear, for it would be better not to return than to return with nothing.

What brings me now a rising of my spirit is the face of Shanawdithit. I think of the warmth of her next to me and of the pride she would feel to know what it is I am doing….Around my neck is the bone piece she gave to me before I left the great lake. Its shape is the shape of the wing of a bird. Its markings will keep me safe and make my spirit soar like her spirit soars to me." (90)