Meta Incognita: A Discourse of Discovery

Paper Abstracts


How Strange is a Stranger?
A Survey of Opportunities for Inuit-European Contact
in the Davis Strait before 1576

By Kirsten Seaver

The surviving accounts from Frobisher's three voyages suggest that the Baffin Island Inuit had previous experience with Europeans. Modern archaeological investigations on both sides of the Davis Strait point the same way, as do various non-Frobisher written sources. This paper examines the five centuries preceding the arrival of Frobisher's ships and draws on archaeological research conducted from the Greenland perspective as well as on recent studies of the Arctic marine mammals hunted by early European intruders on Dorset and Thule territory. Norse, English, and Iberian voyagers are considered, with particular attention being paid to the Greenland Norse as the most pervasive European presence in that part of the world until about A.D. 1500. The conclusion is that Europeans were no strangers to the Baffin Islanders of 1576, who had cause to be wary of such intruders.


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