The Skraelingr

There is mention in a few books that I have looked through, namely The Myths of the North American Indians by Lewis Spence, of a race of small people living in the eastern portion of North America prior to the arrival of the Naïve American tribes. The first mention of these pygmy men is from Norse recordings from their attempt to colonize the lands of North America. Somewhere in what is now known as Boston it was told that Thorwald, brother of Leif the Lucky, was slain by a group of these dwarfish men. Later, in further attempts to colonize North America, Norsemen came and were consistently attacked by the Skraelingr causing them to finally return without accomplishing their task.

Not much is known of these men called Skraelingr by the Norse but descriptions told that they were small in stature and had Eskimo like features. Later in an Iroquois myth there is again mention of these strange dwarf men who they referred to as pygmies. The story is told that when returning from a raid on the Cherokees a group of Iroquois left behind a Chieftain who had taken ill. Thinking that he was lost they left him behind to be discovered by a small group of pygmy men who nursed him back to health. Two separate accounts of a small race of men living in North America indicate that the possibility that such a race of men could have existed. It can be understood that with the size of Norsemen in general any inferior race could be distinguished and labeled as dwarfish but descriptions by the Iroquois would be more accurate. Who the Skraelingr were and what happened to them may always be one of the great mysteries of our area.

Recommended Reading

Legends of the Iroquois