We all know from our history lessons how important Jamestown is to European settlement in the Americas. The way it was taught to us, it might seem as if there were no successful colonies anywhere in America before. Allow me to inform.
Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement. The words permanent and English are key, because there were other English settlements that failed before, and there were other permanent European settlements in other areas that were successful. St. Augustine in Florida was founded by Spain in 1565. Jamestown would not be founded until 1607.
Much further north, in what is today Nova Scotia, the French established a colony called Port Royal in 1605. How settlers in Port Royal were able to survive the winter conditions before the advent of modern heating is a mystery. …to me.
But long before the Spanish and the French arrived on the scene, the historical badasses of the Atlantic made a settlement in the Americas. The Norse made a settlement in what is modern day Newfoundland all the way back in 1000 AD. The Norse held this settlement for 500 years. (In other words, more than twice as long as the United States have been hanging out on traditional Native American lands.) …Speaking of which, guess why the Norse left their 500 year-old settlement…
That’s right, after 500 years the Native Americans kicked the Norse out of America. You see, at the time before Columbus arrived on the scene, there were approximately 100 million Native Americans living on the North American continent. To put that in perspective, there were only 70 million people living in Europe at the same time. The reason why Native Americans were so ill-prepared for the European “invasion” that more or less began with Jamestown was because in the 100 years prior to Jamestown, a massive plague brought over from Europe ravaged the native population. It ended up wiping out 90% of the population. Essentially, America was built upon a post-apocalypse continent. …but that’s a story for another blog post…
What is probably the most underrated achievements in human history is that Europe didn’t find America. America found Europe.
“Anthropologists conjecture that Native Americans voyaged east a millennia ago from Canada to Scandinavia or Scotland. Two Indians shipwrecked in Holland around 60 B.C. became major curiosities in Europe.”