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Contact between Native North Americans and the Medieval Norse: A Review of the Evidence

  • Robert McGhee (a1)

Historical and archaeological evidence relating to Norse activities in the New World early in the second millennium A.D. is reviewed, together with archaeological evidence relating to contemporaneous aboriginal occupations of the regions probably reached by the Norse. The Norse probably contacted Indian populations in southern Labrador and Newfoundland, Dorset Palaeoeskimos in northern Labrador, and Thule Eskimos in Greenland and perhaps in the eastern Canadian Arctic. Speculation on the nature of relationsips between the Norse and these groups is presented, and it is concluded that occasional contacts involving both trade and plundering probably occurred over a period of several centuries. There is no evidence to indicate that these contacts had any major influence on aboriginal North American populations, and it is argued that such influences are unlikely to have occurred. The most important result of contact between these groups was the prevention of European colonization of the New World for half a millennium.

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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
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