Scientists are studying the “Blond Eskimos” of Canada to find out if they’re related to early Viking explorers. Viking settlements mysteriously disappeared from Canada by the fifteenth century?did they go home, die off, of integrate into the local population?
“It’s an old story,” says researcher Gisli Palsson. “We want to try to throw new light on the history of the Inuit?The Icelandic sagas, at several points, mention the Norse in Greenland meeting people who belong to other cultures.”
Bob Weber writes in Canada News that the Inuit also have legends about meeting people from a strange culture. Some of the earliest Western explorers described Western-looking Inuit. In 1910, Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson heard a rumor from a whaling captain about fair-haired people living among the Inuit and looked for them. He wrote, “There were three men here whose beard is almost the same color as mine and who look like typical Scandinavians. One woman has the delicate features one sees on Scandinavian girls.”
Now we can finally answer the question by using DNA testing. Palsson took saliva samples from 350 Inuit in Cambridge Bay and Greenland and has been comparing them with genetic markers from medieval Scandinavia. He’ll have the results in a couple of months.
Palsson believes that early cultures traveled and traded much more than archeologists thought they did. He says, “?They were experimenting with travel routes and subsistence resources?Archeology and biological anthropology are increasingly demonstrating that regions that people thought were barriers were really migration routes.”
There are many fascinating mysteries in Canada.
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