Who Discovered the Americas before Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492?

We talk about Christopher Columbus discovering the Americas, as though no one had ever seen them before. But of course, millions of people had, the Native Americans who already lived here.

By at least 12,000 years ago, the ancestors of modern Native Americans had already migrated from Asia to America. By the time of Columbus, they were living throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Around 1000 A.D., a Norse mariner named Leif Eriksson became the first European known to visit the Americas. He found an area he called Vinland, believed by some experts to have been in present-day Newfoundland. Vinland had been forgotten by the time of Columbus.

From a European point of view, Columbus really did discover America. That is, until he saw and reported the existence of this land, Europeans had no permanent knowledge of it. Once Columbus told them, Europeans never forgot.

We often talk about Columbus and other European explorers “discovering” places in the Americas. This is true, from a European point of view. From a Native American point of view, it was the Native Americans who discovered Columbus in 1492.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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