When the Vikings reached the New World, they called the native inhabitants (American Indians or Native Americans), “Skræling.” There has been much debate as to what exactly this word or label meant. Some translate it as “skin wearers,” which may be true as to how they described them, being the Norse generally wore woolen or linen clothing and North American Natives generally wore animal skins. But there was one additional thing puzzling about the Norse and the Skræling. The Viking explorers weren't curious or baffled by these new people. As if, they'd come into contact with people like this before and their way of life. 500 years later, when other Europeans had come to the New World (The Americas), they were ultimately curious of these strange new people and their ways that they had never seen before. But not the Norse, the Norse hint that they have come into regular contact with people like this on a fairly regular basis.
This is because, the Norse did in fact have regular contact and knowledge of these people. The Skræling and Thule people were commonly referred to by the Norse. Thule, which is now called Qaanaaq, is located in northwest Greenland, towards Canada and is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. It is believed the Thule people are the ancestors of the modern Inuit (Eskimo) as they are linked biologically, culturally, and linguistically. The Vikings were in contact with the Thule people, particularly in the 11th century when they explored Greenland and the edges of Canada where they referred to these people as both “Thule” and “Skræling.” During the occurrence of the “Little Ice Age” in 1650 - 1850 AD, the changed climate caused the Thule communities to migrate and scatter in which they later became known as the Eskimo and then later as the Inuit.
Another very significant group the Norse were in continual contact with were the Sami people (Sámi or Saami) which are an indigenous Finno-Ugric people who inhabit the Arctic area of what's called “Sápmi” today. The area of Sápmi encompasses much of the northern halves of Norway and Sweden along with the far northern portion of Finland including the Kola Peninsula of Russia.
Map of the Saami Homeland by Rogper 4 May 2004.
The Sami languages are a part of the Uralic language family, a language family that is associated with native speakers of Estonian, Finnish, and Hungarian. Regions today that are also traditionally...