National Geographic : 2013 Mar
6 national geographic • March 2013 “I thi nkitlikelythattheratsbro ught bubonic plaguetotheNewWorldon No rseships;the14thcentur y was the time o f theBlackDeathinEurope.”“MighttheDo rset simp lyhave... merged “CoulditbetheprolongedcontactwiththeVik ings thatledtotheDorset’sdisappearance? ” “T he int roductionofillnesses... could havewipedthemout.”“TheNorseinterb red with t heDorsetpeople,m aking their Inuitdescen dants part iallyEuropean.”withsurrou nding loc alcultures? ” LETTERS November 2012 POSTER NOVEMBER2012 ON THE EDGE OF CHANGE Launchofthe Penguins Vikings andNativeAmericans Sailing Over Sand Dunes Cheetahs Race to Survive Arkansas Delta,Then and Now World’s Fastest Runner NATIONALGEOGRAPHICNOVEMBER2012CUBA•PENGUINS•VIKINGSANDNATIVEAMERICANS•SANDDUNES•CHEETAHS•ARKANSASDELTA CV1112[P];28.indd 1 11/29/12 11:22AM The disappearance of the Dorset people coincides with the late 14th-century decline of Viking settlement in Greenland. Deprived of the established Norse trade, might the Dorset simply have melted away and merged with surrounding local cultures? This would have left no trace or clue to their sudden disappearance. AlAn DeAn Foster Prescott, Arizona Vikings and Native Americans EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org TWITTER @NatGeoMag WRITE National Geographic Magazine, PO Box 98199, Washington, DC 20090-8199. Include name, address, and daytime telephone. Letters may be edited for clarity and length. FEEDBACK Readers offered their theories on why the Dorset people disappeared from North America. Heather Pringle writes of the re- search that Patricia Sutherland has undertaken in her digs on Baffin Island and elsewhere, but nowhere is credit given to the man who had the good sense to study samples of the odd pieces of string that he found when he was excavating abandoned Dorset sites. A Roman Catholic missionary who remains un- named! What a terrible slight on his intelligence and sense. Peter McDonough Boston, Massachusetts The missionary’s name was Father Guy Mary-Rousselière. Let’s do away with Columbus Day and institute Leif Eriksson Day instead. Vikings came to North America before Columbus did, and he never set foot on the continent. He only “found” some islands in the Caribbean. DiAnn lAnDAu lovettsville, Virginia The introduction of illnesses previously unknown to the Dorset could have wiped them out as the illnesses were introduced from clan to clan during hunting and trading. tony FrAzier hoquiam, Washington The most tantalizing implication of Heather Pringle’s article is the ethnic linkages she made to the enigmatic Dorset culture. Rather than trying to explain all the Norse artifacts found in the Dorset context as signs of “friendly contact” and noting that the Dorset “relished trade,” why didn’t she explore the possibility that the Dorset were in fact Norse or from a common, Arctic-exploring ancestor? After all, the Norse are indisputably the most successful and capa- ble Arctic explorers known. They didn’t suddenly gain these skills in the 800s A.D . KArl hoenKe Kelseyville, california According to archaeologist Max Friesen, who specializes in the region, ancient DNA from the Dorset people is distinct from Norse DNA, so there’s no shared ancestry. GRAPHIC: MAAYAN HAREL corrections noVeMBer 2012, cheetAhs on the eDge Poster: The speed noted for cheetah Tommy T should’ve been approximately 45 feet per second, not 100 feet per second.