Not Cowboys & Indians: Part 1

A fellow blogger asked me recently about “Indian wars” in Canada. And so the next few posts are my replies.  Not a complete listing of wars and skirmishes, and definitely over simplified, but enough to get a decent picture, I hope.

L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Norse long house recreation, L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Courtesy D. Gordon E. Robertson.

   Before the 17th century,  there were two main conflicts.  The first was around the year 1006, between the Norsemen and the Skraeling, at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. We know this because Helge Marcus Ingstad and his wife, Anne Stine, uncovered the remnants of a Viking settlement in 1960; and from the sagas of Erik the Red; and from  indigenous accounts from the Inuit Peoples which tell of the Norse interactions and travels to their land. It proves that the Norsemen were here roughly 500 years before Christopher Columbus and John Cabot.

Sir Martin Frobisher
Portrait of Sir Martin Frobisher by Cornelis Ketel, dated 1577. Oil on canvas, 211 cm x 98 cm. Courtesy of the collections of the University of Oxford.

The second was in the late 1570s,  There were skirmishes between English sailors under Martin Frobisher and the Inuit on Baffin Island. Frobisher arranged to have one the Inuit as a guide. Then he sent five men in a boat, telling them to stay a distance away from the Inuit. The crew disobeyed, and were taken captive. Frobisher searched for them, but failed to find them. So he took the guide as a hostage, hoping to make a trade. The men were never seen again, so Frobisher returned home. Inuit legend tells that the men lived among them for a few years until they died attempting to leave Baffin Island in a self-made boat.

My next post will cover skirmishes in the 17th century.

12 comments

  1. The word “war” probably has too much of a connotation of large scale, organized fronts to desscribe the concept of the conflicts that arose as European nations began to explore and settle the coastal and inland regions. However, collectively, over the decades and centuries, these conflicts and skirmishes had a similar affect as a war.
    Oscar
    P.S. Sorry to be away so long. Busy time of the year for getting the garden set up for planting.

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  2. I LOVE YOUR BLOG and will be sharing your posts on my Facebook page called “Canadian Pride”. Check it out if you like and I hope you don’t mind me sharing 🙂

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