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Skraelings vs Vikings

By the year 1300, the small group of Vikings who followed Eric the Red to Greenland in 986 had grown to more than 3,000 colonists, but by the mid-1300s the "Greenlanders" were gone.

The reasons for their disappearance have intrigued students of history for centuries.

We know that the climate had begun to turn colder. This caused poor harvests, which meant less food for livestock, which meant less meat.

Trade with Iceland and the rest of Europe was necessary for survival, but drift ice was beginning to block the trade routes and few ships were able to visit. By the mid-1300's most Greenlanders had either died or moved on in search of a better environment.

One ancient record indicated that the Skraelings (Norse word for Aboriginal Peoples, and now known as Inuit), who had crossed over to Greenland from Ellesmere Island in the far north, migrated down the west coast and came into contact with the Norse colonists. Although the two groups traded and were friendly at first, they eventually fought and the Skraelings overan the Norse settlements.

By the time of later European exploration in the 16th century, the Inuit were in sole possession of the entire North American Arctic.

PICTURE TOP: Painting showing Inuit meeting with the Norse.
PICTURE BOTTOM: Viking ruins in Greenland.

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