E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Red Indians (of Newfoundland).
So called because they daub their skin, garments, canoes, weapons, and almost everything with red ochre.
Whether it is merely a custom, or whether they daub their skin with red ochre to protect it from the attacks of mosquitos and black-flies, which swarm by myriads in the woods and wilds during the summer, it is not possible to say.Lady Blake: Nineteenth Century, Dec. 1888, p. 905.