By 1823, search parties couldn’t find any signs of these Indians. Later that year, three starving Beothuck women were captured. One of these was a woman in her twenties. Her name was Shanawdithit. The other two women were her mother and sister. They died shortly after being captured. Shanawdithit's father drowned, trying to escape.
For five years, Shanawdithit lived with a white family and answered to the English name, Nancy. She worked as their servant. Thought she was energetic and intelligent, Shanawdithit had spells of weakness, which could have been caused by stress and it is suspected she suffered from pulmonary consumption, which is what her mother and sister died of.
Shanawdithit had a great talent for drawing and was described as being gentle and especially good with children. Though given the option, Shanawdithit would not return to her people. She feared she would not be forgiven for having stayed so long with the white settlers.
In 1927, W.E. Cormack took a party of men into Newfoundland’s interior to search for the Beothuck. His expedition failed. Upon his return, he realized that Shanawdithit might be the one of the last surviving Beothuck.
Cormack had Shanawdithit brought to him and she told him what she knew of her people. She made a series of sketches that depicted early encounters between the Beothuck and the white man. Other drawings showed clothing, canoes, food, utensils and chief’s emblems. She also sketched pictures of the Red Indian “devil” and a dancing woman. Her translation of these pictures was never fully understood.
Cormack took notes of what Shanawdithit told him. Some were later published, but many disappeared. The lost notes told irreplaceable knowledge about the Beothuck people. Many people feel these papers still exist and have unsuccessfully tried to trace them.
Shanawdithit contacted tuberculosis in 1929 and died in St. John’s, Newfoundland while under the care of Dr. A Carson. No Beothuck Indian was ever seen after this date. It is possible that a few survivors left Newfoundland to live with other natives in Labrador but this is not certain.
When Shanawdithit died, the Beothuck Indian tribe died with her. As far as can be determined, when she passed, the Beothuck Indians vanished forever.