Norse/Native Contact in Arctic Canada
11:30am, 18 March 2014, Life Sciences Centre, Room 242, Dalhousie University
Presented by Dr. Patricia Sutherland
Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen; Adjunct Professor, Carleton University and Memorial University of Newfoundland
Abstract: Recently identified archaeological finds from Canada’s eastern Arctic suggest the existence of a little known chapter in North American history. Artefacts resembling those used by Europeans of the Viking and Medieval periods have been recognized in several archaeological collections from Baffin Island and the adjacent regions of northern Labrador. These collections are from site locations occupied by the Dorset culture Palaeo-Eskimos, a distinct population that inhabited Arctic Canada before the arrival of ancestral Inuit from their Alaskan homeland. Investigations undertaken as part of the Helluland Archaeological Project have also yielded other lines of evidence which suggest that the Norse, who had founded colonies in southwest Greenland, may have had a significant presence in Arctic Canada. Interactions with the Dorset culture people during the centuries around 1000 A.D. appear to have been more frequent, more widespread and more complex than has previously been believed. Relations between the Norse and the early Inuit were likely more sporadic and opportunistic.
Dr. Sutherland has been involved in archaeological research in the Canadian Arctic since 1975 and has collaborated on a number of projects in Greenland. Until recently she held the position of Curator of Arctic Archaeology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.