Native Americans reach Iceland pre-viking era

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Ricardolindo, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. Ricardolindo Well-Known Member

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    Over the centuries, there were several Native American groups settled in Greenland but they died off due to the harsh conditions. When the Vikings arrived there, the island was desert. But what if one of those Native American groups had managed to survive and travelled southeast and reached and settled Iceland before the Vikings arrived there? How would they have interacted with the British Islands and Scandinavia?
     
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  2. ArchimedesCircle Radical Groucho-Marxist

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    Iceland may have already been settled by Irish monks at the time of the Viking settlement, but they were likely a tiny population. If the Dorset get to Iceland with significant numbers, the Norse may decide that the island isn't worth fighting over. After all, the only real draw for Iceland was that it was that it was basically free land. But if taking that land is a similar risk to taking much richer land in the south. Iceland would probably be a distant periphery, even more remote than OTL. There'd likely be some eventual interactions though, and it would definitely appeal to missionaries who want to bring Christianity to them. If the Dorset stay in contact with their counterparts in Greenland, they can offer walrus ivory to Europe, while Europe in return can offer basically everything that Iceland can't produce on its own (which is a lot). There's likely to be disease issues unfortunately, but it's not like OTL Iceland hasn't seen its fair share of demographic collapses, and with enough luck I'd expect the Dorset to be able to survive for a while. The island will probably be grabbed up eventually as a stopping point on the route to the new world, but I'd expect less settlement than Macaronesia.
     
  3. Bobbbcat2 King of South Georgia

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    Before human settlement about 25% of Iceland was forested, it was far from desert.

    As for American settlement, I believe the Dorset mainly inhabited the western half of Greenland and the icier eastern coast was uninhabited. Another problem is the lack of good long distance boats and a seafaring culture.

    Even if Dorset got to Iceland, they would probably suffer a similar fate to the Beothuk of Newfoundland or the Guanches of the Canaries.
     
  4. Wolttaire Kicked

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    Dorest actually lives in the western north of Iceland until the Inuit came and then they expanded much father
     
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  5. ArchimedesCircle Radical Groucho-Marxist

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    Yeah, but "and then they all died of disease" isn't a very interesting answer.
    The Inuit can't be the solution to this, since they weren't even in Greenland at the time the vikings settled in Iceland. Hence why I used the Dorset as the example
     
  6. Bobbbcat2 King of South Georgia

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    The most realistic answer isn't always very interesting. I struggle to see a scenario where there is anything more than a few individuals of partial Iceland Dorset descent.
     
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  7. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    PoD 1: Taino/proto-Taino get far better seafaring culture. Maybe from an early exchange with the Polynesians who reach South America thousands of years earlier than OTL, maybe indigenously, point being is they now have much better boats. Taino colonise Bermuda, the Azores, and have a trading network all over the Eastern Seaboard. One offshoot of the Taino settles Iceland, trading pelts, ivory, and fish in exchange for food from further south.
    PoD 2: Paleo-Eskimo (any Greenlandic group from the Saqqaq to the Dorset) arrive in Iceland. This is harder, since you need to give them better boats since their boats would be unable to cross the open sea between Greenland and Iceland. But if they did, then I imagine colonise not only Iceland, but also most of the other islands in the area and potentially end up like the Sea Thule from Lands of Ice and Mice.
     
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  8. Bobbbcat2 King of South Georgia

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    Polynesians didn't reach the eastern islands very long ago, estimates vary, but it would require an earlier settlement of Eastern Polynesia POD. It's not actually confirmed if Polynesians ever reached South America, it's entirely possible kūmara reached the Pacific Islands by sea. As for Polynesian influenced Taíno boats? I highly doubt Polynesian influence would be that big, or spread that far.

    What would the Eastern Seaboard trading network even be for? Do the people there have anything the Taíno would even want?

    Why would Taíno even start exploring the open ocean and going to places as far away as the Azores and even Bermuda? The ocean between the Americas and the Azores is devoid of islands.
    Two questions, what islands do you mean, and why would they need better boats? Their boats were fine for their lifestyle.
     
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  9. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    A possible PoD--Eastern Polynesia is settled far earlier, so just a continual chain of migration across the Pacific and eventually to South America. A culture in the Galapagos and on Cocos Island facilitate the exchange of Polynesian technology, eventually reaching the Orinoco region where the alt-Taino expand and innovate on the technology, becoming expert sailors. But an indigenous South American development isn't unreasonable either.

    What would they want to trade? A lot of stuff--long distance trade wasn't uncommon in the Americas. Textiles, plants (like yaupon), food, antlers, etc all make good trade goods. Especially if this trade network ("New World Phoenicians") is linked with Mesoamerica, then there's even more stuff to trade.

    Why explore? Two words--Gulf Stream. This current sweeps past Bermuda and then to the Azores (which admittedly are a stretch). Going up the coast, the current carries past Newfoundland and to Iceland.

    Jan Mayen, Bear Island, and Svalbard would be the main ones. All three could sustain a solid population of a few Paleo-Eskimo bands yet never did, thanks to the difficulty in reaching them through the lack of sea ice.

    Also, did the Dorset or earlier cultures use umiaks or anything similar? By better boats, they need something which is seaworthy enough to cross the open North Atlantic, which you have to if you want to settle Iceland.
     
  10. Ricardolindo Well-Known Member

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    The island that I said was desert was Greenland, not Iceland. Also, I sometimes use the term desert to mean uninhabited.
     
  11. Bobbbcat2 King of South Georgia

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    Jan Mayen could support a small population, but mainland Britain is closer to Iceland than Iceland is to Svalbard and Bear Island.

    I don't believe any boats from pre-Inuit cultures have been preserved, I could be wrong though.

    This doesn't answer my question as to why they would need anything better than an umiak or kayak.

    What's stopping them from getting halfway to Bermuda and deciding that there aren't any islands in the area?
     
  12. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    Aren't they not very stable in rough seas? Check the map of sea ice (extrapolate a bit to account for the Late Antiquity Little Ice Age or another cool period), and notice how they'd need to cross a substantial stretch of open water or otherwise cross in the depth of winter, in darkness, across ice which is likely to be poor in quality. This calls for better boats. I'm not convinced the Thule would have reached Iceland if given enough time, especially if Dorset, Saqqaq, etc. had good umiaks yet never reached Iceland despite being given thousands of years.

    The same reasons the Polynesians, proto-Malagasy, and others decided not to turn back but keep going. Odds are they know the Gulf Stream and perhaps given wind and sea conditions decide not to fight the current that day. Of course, I suppose the same answer might apply to some Thule sailing to Iceland OTL who turned back instead (hopefully they lived unlike the poor saps who washed up dead in Europe).
     
  13. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer Donor

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    Define Native American?

    Thule people displaced Vikings from Greenland and maintained a small presence there. But Iceland is across open water and the risk / reward just isn't there. It's entirely possible that some may have made the journey but not in numbers before the Vikings had reached Iceland - after which it woudl be a closed country.

    Thule numbers were small and relied on whales for food and materials.
     
  14. Diego Well-Known Member

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    Desert could mean abandoned or never settled, not only a place with very little rain and not many plants.
     
  15. Ricardolindo Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I believe, that, scenario 2 is more plausible. I find scenario 1 far-fetched. I also think, that, my Hawaiians reaching California scenario is far more plausible than your Taíno in Iceland scenario.
     
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  16. Bobbbcat2 King of South Georgia

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    There's been a bit of a misunderstanding. I meant why would they need to develop better boat technology in the first place, when umiaks and kayaks are already very well suited to the traditional North American Arctic lifestyle? Sure they aren't good for long distance, but the pre-Inuit cultures didn't need long distance boats.
    This comment exhibits an ignorance of Polynesian navigation. The Polynesians followed migratory birds, they used the stars to guide them, they used the oceans currents to tell when they were near an island, they made charts to help navigate, you get the idea. These "Atlantic Taíno" don't even know if there are any islands further out.

    I know little about the Proto-Malagasy.
     
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  17. Malone Well-Known Member

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    Somewhat ot but famous singer Bjork is a native Icelander and I have to believe there had been some Dorset/Inuit genetic presence left in Iceland from some point in history.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Wolttaire Kicked

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    Wow...no
     
  19. Jürgen Well-Known Member

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    I’m not so sure, a interesting aspect could be the accidental introduction of a few plants from North America, Iceland have very low biodiversity, and the Norse didn’t increase it, as they brought sheep, which more or less ensured few introduction of wild plants from Scandinavia. A few conifer species introduced centuries before sheeps arrived could have transformed the forests of Iceland, which was made up of birch.
     
  20. Jürgen Well-Known Member

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    Bjork have a Greenlandic parent.
     
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