Gone Fishin'
People have survived being scalped. There are a ton of examples of Native and White Americans who have been scalped and survived, though it's visually gruesome.
Maybe towey goat wool could be used to make caps with soft inner linings. A sort of visual statement that you've been through a lot for your city-state's sake.
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Gone Fishin'
Modern scholarship relies much on Saga of the Lands of Dawn, for Qwinishtis is practically our only source on the indigenous history of Eastern North America. He collected numerous stories, recorded many placenames and even phrases in indigenous languages. Without Qwinishtis, much of the history and even the very names of countless places in Eastern North America would have been lost, for little Misebian writing survives north of the Gulf. Qwinishtis paints a picture of a healthy, thriving civilisation, albeit one often torn by warfare and petty feuds, one far different than the cold, analytical descriptions favoured by Maya merchants or the dying lands portrayed by Spanish conquistadors.
I also wonder about this.

Take a sort of imaginary Mesoamerican battle. Both city states here commit a big part of their (and their tributaries') resources for a big punch-up. The loser can't quickly resupply from his distant homeland, the porters are only human, so if he loses it's really over for him-- but also, the winner can't garrison such a distant territory, the porters are only human. So after taking many captives to impart the message of defeat, he leaves the loser as a tributary. The tributary has to supply both offensive power if a campaign is taking place near him, and is the first line of defense; and economically, if his territory is one of the few sources of some resources or can produce it in a disproportionately high volume (cocoa from Soconusco), then his liege now benefits from the power to determine how that resource is distributed, he can lay claim to a big slice of production and decide where it will be allocated. Of course the problem with this is that the tributaries are so important to the overall structure that if they defect, they take pretty much all of the empire's offensive, defensive, and economic strength with them. And that's what happened in the Spanish conquests in Mesoamerica and the Andes.

A similar tributary model was used to develop Wayam and played a part in its fall-- Chemna sort of conquistador-ing Wayam with a prison-riot of the tributaries-- but I wonder if Native polities generally would be a little more centralized and robust than the OTL models just due to the loser's ability to resupply faster, and the winner able to impose a more total control, due to draft animals being present on both sides. Not only this, but regular trade across the Gulf may mean that it's harder for a hegemonic empire on either side of the Gulf to control all sources of a valuable resource-- it can just be imported from the other side. So to keep the economic value of tribute they'd have to limit imports, or they could earn that value back by governing and taxing the ports more effectively-- either way that's a different government than existed before, and I would expect the effects of all this on statecraft in Mesoamerica and Misebia to maybe be even more extreme than in Fusania.

Edit: And another thing-- siege machinery. In a prior exchange you said the Fusanian reindeer could pull sleds. Well, put a sled on roller logs (which should be used to cart around stone for the mounds and pyramids already, the Aztecs used rollers) and you have a wheeled vehicle of sorts-- and even if reindeer can't be present as far south as Mesoamerica and it's not great territory for towey goats either (maybe the local ones are pretty small and slow), maybe you could yoke a team of them to a sled on rollers, and on the sled there's a raised platform or a small siege tower, and on it (or in it) there's people with slings or atl-atls using their extra height and range to deadly effect. Or catapults (but especially trebuchets) evolved out of the principles well known to sling/spear-throwers. If you could pull such a machine up to an altepetl (after constructing it nearby out of parts borne on the backs of goats to the field of battle) it would at least spur the development of higher walls, and with the same principles behind mound building (pile of earth with outer shell of stone) you can build enormous Chinese-style walls which are impregnable even to cannon and all but require self-sacrificing assaults on the city gates (the only weak points) or revolt/starvation in the besieged city for a siege to be won, a contributor to the mass death of the Taiping rebellion and its suppression (siege of Anqing). Sunzi never liked siege warfare and the Spanish might lose their taste for it as well, especially if they don't have bodies to throw at the gates (or mine under the walls) or enough men to surround the city (which may be bigger than already large OTL equivalents, better agriculture balancing against more disease) and keep supplies from getting in.

The Spanish will probably still win if they keep pouring in more resources (the mule is even more decisive than the horse-- you find the most isolated Native village in Mexico or Peru/Bolivia and it will probably still have mules), which they have on hand and stand to gain more of through the tax base/extraction industries of their initial conquests. And once they do that, they'll abolish the local literary tradition as an impediment to proselytization, and then invent a new literary tradition as an aid to proselytization-- they did this with Nahuatl, Quechua, Aymara, and Tagalog. But for it to be so sweeping, to extend across the whole of the Misebian basin and wipe out all documentation, I'm not sure if the Spanish would do that well. New World colonialism wouldn't be this sideshow prelude to more strenuous wars in Europe-- the Misebians and Mesoamericans have the potential to make them bleed and struggle for every city and province. It would recall the Crusades or the Reconquista. I guess the Japanese might compare their Fusanian experience to the long war against the Emishi.
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People being scalped while alive... is it possible to survive a scalping? I don't want to think about that...
Some survived being scalped. Here is a 19th century picture of a man who was scalped as a child (obviously somewhat graphic).
The interesting thing about Mesoamericanization here is-- even while they impart their own practices, they are being confronted with a whole universe of unfamiliar things, and in adapting to them they make their own practices more robust and useful. The systems of Postclassic Maya writing and Nahua semasiography-- especially the latter-- can be used to record all the animals of the north, or some of the medical experimentation that is going on, some comparative treatises on warfare or army organization, the emerging field of naval warfare against the Taino pirates... and bring that knowledge down to the calmecacs of the south. I wonder if a syncretic deity could also arise in connection with livestock or medicine, depicted in Maya or Nahua literary and artistic terms but venerated through Misebian styles of worship.
Probably not a deity related to livestock (in Mesoamerica it's presumably Chichimec-influenced since they would have introduced the ducks and towey goats) since to Misebians those are indigenous. I could see a Misebian sailing deity having Mesoamerican traits given there'd be a lot of communication between Misebian sailors/fishermen and Mesoamerican ones.
Even before writing/semasiography I think that under the influence of Maya and Nahua poetic forms (Natchez calques of the Nahua dual-word kennings, like water-mountain for "polity")-- maybe the merchants aren't big poets but if they're settling down they might import educators from the old country for their children-- we should see a lot of Misebian oral literary/poetic/musical experiments. Different cities might see the promotion of their dialects as a sign of prestige, a soft power that parallels or even supersedes the religious significance of a multi-mound paramount center. Kind of a Provencal/Tuscan dynamic-- and so they might sponsor increasingly ambitious collations of local histories and mythologies into grand epics, stuff that might survive conquest in the way the Popol Vuh did. "Sponsorship" in this case being the troubadour deal of "here's a house and servants to attend to all your needs" or "here's some beef jerky, now get lost".
I could definitely see those calques used in certain Misebian languages (probably those in the OTL Deep South i.e. Gulf/South Appalachian), although whether they'd spread to the whole region, who knows. And the dialect thing might actually fit with OTL. There's some evidence Tunica may have been a prestige language/culture at OTL Spiro [Nakuhmitsa] and a few associated sites in that region (theories range from Tunica merchants/founders to that actually being the Tunica homeland before the 15th century) and Muskogean languages clearly held some prestige OTL given their distribution and their rapid adoption across much of the region in the 16th-18th century (possibly related to proto-Mobilian Jargon). And OTL Cahokia clearly had influence with soft power, so Maya/Nahua arts could be highly praised if assimilated to local forms for their novel nature.
A similar tributary model was used to develop Wayam and played a part in its fall-- Chemna sort of conquistador-ing Wayam with a prison-riot of the tributaries-- but I wonder if Native polities generally would be a little more centralized and robust than the OTL models just due to the loser's ability to resupply faster, and the winner able to impose a more total control, due to draft animals being present on both sides. Not only this, but regular trade across the Gulf may mean that it's harder for a hegemonic empire on either side of the Gulf to control all sources of a valuable resource-- it can just be imported from the other side. So to keep the economic value of tribute they'd have to limit imports, or they could earn that value back by governing and taxing the ports more effectively-- either way that's a different government than existed before, and I would expect the effects of all this on statecraft in Mesoamerica and Misebia to maybe be even more extreme than in Fusania.
There is one OTL comparison--coastal polities in Mesoamerica which could resupply faster thanks to large canoes which could proportionately carry more than porters and at a comparable or even faster speed. Presumably this was also true regarding Inca logistics along the Peruvian coast. Draft animals merely increase the volume of resupply (and in Mesoamerica aren't as revolutionary as elsewhere since they only have small towey goats and no reindeer).

As for resources in Mesoamerica, I suspect gold production would be limited in the Misebian world (lesser developed mining and a more limited supply) so Central America/northern South America would still be the best source. For pelts (deer, towey goat, bison) there is still the Pacific/overland route. This does mean northwestern Mexico doesn't control so much copper, although I can't imagine Appalachian copper is cheaper. I alluded to conflict between inland polities and ports in my Mesoamerica entry, so this will add an additional dimension I'll be sure to consider.

For Fusania, I've thought draft animals are among the good explanations for why North Fusania's states are larger and seemingly more centralised despite the rougher terrain and rivers being choked with rapids. It could also be a good explanation for why South Fusania's religious societies can be fairly homogenous despite the otherwise anarchic political structure.
Edit: And another thing-- siege machinery. In a prior exchange you said the Fusanian reindeer could pull sleds. Well, put a sled on roller logs (which should be used to cart around stone for the mounds and pyramids already, the Aztecs used rollers) and you have a wheeled vehicle of sorts-- and even if reindeer can't be present as far south as Mesoamerica and it's not great territory for towey goats either (maybe the local ones are pretty small and slow), maybe you could yoke a team of them to a sled on rollers, and on the sled there's a raised platform or a small siege tower, and on it (or in it) there's people with slings or atl-atls using their extra height and range to deadly effect.
That could be done with human manpower too, so I'll attribute their lack of presence to no one hitting on the idea to use them. This makes sense because you'd be risking porters/animals which is a bit of a pain when both (especially the latter) might be considered someone's valuable property in addition to imperiling logistics. As to whether it shows up in the future, that's a different matter.

Although nitpick, Mississippian (and earlier) mounds seem to have been constructed solely with people using baskets to haul dirt from a nearby borrow pit.
Or catapults (but especially trebuchets) evolved out of the principles well known to sling/spear-throwers. If you could pull such a machine up to an altepetl (after constructing it nearby out of parts borne on the backs of goats to the field of battle) it would at least spur the development of higher walls, and with the same principles behind mound building (pile of earth with outer shell of stone) you can build enormous Chinese-style walls which are impregnable even to cannon and all but require self-sacrificing assaults on the city gates (the only weak points) or revolt/starvation in the besieged city for a siege to be won, a contributor to the mass death of the Taiping rebellion and its suppression (siege of Anqing). Sunzi never liked siege warfare and the Spanish might lose their taste for it as well, especially if they don't have bodies to throw at the gates (or mine under the walls) or enough men to surround the city (which may be bigger than already large OTL equivalents, better agriculture balancing against more disease) and keep supplies from getting in.
I've mentioned city walls made of earth numerous times, but never much on how thick or tall they are (other than Wayam having an impressive set of walls). I did mention there are some cities with stone walls in Fusania, especially among the Whulchomic peoples who constantly find themselves being raided. These would be risky because of earthquakes but do make good prestige symbols. Misebian walls probably are thicker TTL and supplement palisades, since more people means larger wars and mound-building losing the prestige.

Catapults I've not been sure about since for some reason I've always thought they wouldn't work without a device similar to the wheel like a pulley, but I guess they would be the natural evolution of the staff sling.
The Spanish will probably still win if they keep pouring in more resources (the mule is even more decisive than the horse-- you find the most isolated Native village in Mexico or Peru/Bolivia and it will probably still have mules), which they have on hand and stand to gain more of through the tax base/extraction industries of their initial conquests. And once they do that, they'll abolish the local literary tradition as an impediment to proselytization, and then invent a new literary tradition as an aid to proselytization-- they did this with Nahuatl, Quechua, Aymara, and Tagalog. But for it to be so sweeping, to extend across the whole of the Misebian basin and wipe out all documentation, I'm not sure if the Spanish would do that well. New World colonialism wouldn't be this sideshow prelude to more strenuous wars in Europe-- the Misebians and Mesoamericans have the potential to make them bleed and struggle for every city and province. It would recall the Crusades or the Reconquista. I guess the Japanese might compare their Fusanian experience to the long war against the Emishi.
I don't know if the average polity is that strong. My numbers (6-15K for a town-state, several times as many for confederation) state the average Misebian polity is about 3-4 times more populous than the average Mississippian polity in De Soto's age (which in turn is about the same as it was in the OTL 12th-13th century). Same is true for larger Misebian polities vs OTL ones of De Soto's era like Coosa. They may have somewhat more influence over distant outlying towns compared to the largest OTL ones (like again, Coosa) but probably aren't too overbearing. Obviously local allies would be needed, but it's clear from OTL that local allies aren't hard to find. Spain OTL had pretty good success against many politically fragmented parts of the Americas such as the Western Mexico, the Yucatan, or Colombia, even if it took a generation to subdue and there were holdouts until almost 1700. I don't have the figures on hand/remember off the top of my head, but I suspect your average indigenous polity in OTL Colombia or Yucatan competed well with TTL Misebian numbers.
I guess the Japanese might compare their Fusanian experience to the long war against the Emishi.
I have a decent model for how that might work and a lot of interesting drafts and stories for that era of cultural collision, since that's a huge part of why I started posting this TL to begin with, since I had a cool idea and the more I expanded it and the more I did research to back it, the more I thought of making it into a TL to share here.

As to whether I'll ever get to posting it here, I have no idea. I'm halfway tempted sometimes to just skip straight to part 2 (I now understand why LORAG did not go into huge detail of the history of each individual polity), but there's still plenty of interesting things I'd like to write.


Gone Fishin'
Although nitpick, Mississippian (and earlier) mounds seem to have been constructed solely with people using baskets to haul dirt from a nearby borrow pit.
That works for dirt, and my confusion here-- I saw the description of palisades guided in copper and assumed the mounds themselves were being coated in some outer layer. I guess they could build an outer layer of stone around the mounds and derivatives (e.g. rammed earth walls) with hand-portable cobblestones, but for big rocks they'd need rollers.
Chapter 86-In the Shadows of Only the Sun
"In the Shadows of Only the Sun"

Much as the great cultures of Europe and Japan were but peripheries to the great cultures of Mesopotamia and China, the same held true in North America. While the Mayan cities and Teotihuacan raised great pyramids to the sky and advanced culture as none had before, all of North America beyond the Bravo River from Fusania to Leivsland [1] lived in small villages. Centuries later, as Fusanians built great cities like Wayam or Koru and the people of the Misebi raised higher and higher earthen pyramids, those of the eastern portion of the continent far from centers like the Imaru Basin or Valley of Mexico lived much as they had for centuries, yet even their own lives began changing by 1200 thanks to external influences seeping into their society.

Divided into hundreds of tribes, there were countless villages scattered throughout this eastern land from the Outer Banks to just south of the Arctic Circle. The total population likely numbered no more than 1 million people at its height around 1200. All but the northernmost tribes practiced agriculture, some quite intensively, although no true cities existed. Maize, squash, and beans gradually spread north in the 1st millennium AD as Fusanian crops such as river turnip, bistort, omodaka, and water amaranth crept in from the west. Fusanian crops were fairly marginal, as all were either labour intensive or took more than one year to grow, but in colder regions such as the area north of the Great Lakes or the mountain meadows of Appalachia served as a valuable supplement to the diet.

The most important change in their cultures came with animal domestication. Domestication arrived in the east by the 11th century and accelerated during the subsequent two centuries as locals developed new breeds of reindeer and towey goats suitable for the local environment (moose herding never arrived in eastern North America). Domesticated animals granted perpetual access to valuable tools, meat, and skins, removing the need to undertake uncertain hunting expeditions. They served as valuable stores of wealth, reorienting the dynamics of individual groups. The need to find new grazing areas for these animals increased the territoriality of each group, forcing social institutions to evolve to mediate disputes and enforce claims.

Reindeer and towey goat herding served as the basis for regional economies. Because lowlanders often lacked these animals (especially reindeer which only thrived at higher altitudes), the people of the highlands gladly sold them reindeer and towey goats in exchange for all manner of goods. The lowland peoples often processed the animals for them, "returning" them as leather, blankets, and cloaks.

Aside from these larger animals, the most important and widespread were dogs and turkeys, for only a few groups at the fringes of this region raised ducks or geese. Dogs served in hunting and defense and often were ritually sacrificed among some groups. Domesticated turkeys arrived from the Misebians around 1150--by 1300 they spread across the entire region and were an important source of protein and feathers. Like in Oasisamerica, priests commonly sacrificed turkeys at festivals.

The pastoralist lifestyle impacted the patterns of land use. Forests became meticulously maintained, with destruction of white-tailed deer (carrier of brainworms fatal to reindeer) populations common as well as methods of maximising populations of preferred animal feed such as lichens and nut-bearing trees. Agriculture was kept to limited areas near riverbanks and swamps, fertilised by animal dung, dead fish, and slash and burn agriculture.

In the east, most villages and towns shifted generationally. Because of the buildup of pests from mites to rodents and gradual depletion of soil fertility, villages and towns would be abandoned every 30-40 years and left to revert to forest, reinhabited perhaps another few decades later. Villages lasted longer by the 13th century compared to the past where 10-20 years was the norm, for nicotine, a pesticide, was increasingly employed and fertilisers employed more efficient and widespread. Typically the population was no more than 500 people, clustered into several longhouses.

Regardless, a few larger commercial centers emerged at strategic trading points. In the southernmost and westernmost regions, these are likely influenced by Misebian cultures, but other developments are truly local. Nearly all of these were located along major rivers on the Fall Line where portages were necessary and distances not too far from the mountains. Supported largely by shifting farms and villages nearby, these centers thrived on trade in livestock and metals.

The largest of these commercial centers might have up to 2,000 people, but without knowledge of sanitation and because of local exhaustion of resources, they rarely lasted more than 25 years before their abandonment in favour of a nearby location. Despite their ephemeral nature, these centers served as the seats for powerful rulers and attracted trade from hundreds of kilometers away. The advancing technology ensured that by 1300, there were far more of these larger centers than ever before.

The Appalachian region, largely unsuitable for agriculture, was dominant among the eastern peoples for their livestock, mining operations, and the rich goods they received or raided from peoples to the west. Those east of them who wanted access needed to pay the exhorbitant prices with their own livestock, metals, or sometimes slaves. Nowhere else, besides perhaps among the middlemen traders living along the Kanada River [2], did such wealth exist in eastern North America.

The many valleys of Appalachia kept the region ethnically diverse, particularly in the southern areas where the climate was best for agriculture and thus lifestyles other than pastoralism. From north to south, the peoples associated with the region were the Andasti, the Massawomeck, the Shawanoki, the closely linked Tottero and Ofo Confederacies of Mountain Siouans [3], and the Chisca. Each of these groups spoke different languages and practiced distinct yet related customs, united only by common economies and their relation with the lowlanders.

The Appalachian tribes vigorously protected their hunting and grazing grounds, a problem for the western peoples whose population growth forced them closer to them. They also clashed with eastern peoples over the same issues, in particular tribes who sought to supplant them as masters of the mountains. Livestock raids were common in their culture--any youth who sought to become a warrior was typically required to steal at least one or two reindeer or towey goats before the older warriors would even consider training them further.

The 13th century saw these peoples take part in increasing numbers of wars, a result of the epidemics, increasing conflicts with lowlanders (especially the Misebians), drought, and the onset of the Little Ice Age. Towns in river valleys were progressive abandoned and moved into increasingly inaccessible locations of the mountains and fortified with all sorts of palisades and watch towers. While this reduced the threat from reprisal raids, it ironically led to the decline of their strength. They now grew less food and their food required more transport in the form of their livestock. With more effort devoted toward gaining food, populations stagnated and they sold fewer and fewer reindeer, towey goats, and other goods, resulting in a decline of their influence regionally by 1300.

The coastal region was relatively unpopulated and backward. Those at the at the Misebian periphery based their economies on bringing coastal goods (including shells, preserved fish, shark leather, turtles, and yaupon, whose northern range was just south of Chesepeake Bay) to the mountains. The latter was a luxury good as far north as Cape Code, drank during ceremonies yet often not in the form of the "black drink". They also ran a strong coastal trade, bringing luxury goods to other coastal towns with their large canoes. The Maya may have visited some of these towns before 1300 and their goods often appear, but these groups would trade with intermediaries or occasionally travel all the way to Zama, the furthest north port frequented by the Maya.

Aside the Arctic, the least developed region of North America was perhaps the Mid-Atlantic, sparsely inhabited by perhaps no more than 25,000 people of the related Algonquian Renappi tribes. Even in the 13th century, towey goat herding had only recently arrived in the northern areas and was unheard of around Chesepeake Bay, with their only domestic animals being turkeys and dogs. The people did not know metal smelting unlike those to the south or north and planted no Fusanian crops. They concentrated in defensive alliances centered around trading centers on the coast to protect what they had from the aggressions of the powerful mountain confederations. Their lives were almost entirely coastal, centered around fishing, farming, and harvesting shells.

Yet even this region benefitted from the wealth found elsewhere in North America. As tributaries of the powerful Massawomeck, they adapted towey goat herding and in the north, even reindeer herding by the end of the 13th century. Their reliance on a maritime lifestyle led to increasing connections between the various Renappi peoples. As Massawomeck power declined, the Renappi took advantage and reversed the situation, allying with the Andasti to crush Massawomeck power in coastal regions and supplanting it with the new Renappi Confederation.


Villages stood by lakes like this in Northeastern America. Villagers created water gardens in the shallows, take fish and birds nearby, and herd reindeer and towey goats in the nearby forest

The peoples northeast of the Mid-Atlantic were wealthier, maintaining large herds of reindeer and goats since the 12th century. The many ponds and lakes of this region gave them access to easy trade routes and grounds for fishing and raising ducks and geese and most crucially, aquaculture. Unlike the Upper Misebians who lived in a similar environment, the northeastern peoples did not intensively farm or modify their environment. As a result, only the more tolerant river turnip, omodaka, and water amaranth were present, yet these produced far greater harvests than the marginal strains of maize, beans, and squash.

By 1300 as the climate cooled, land crops were abandoned, for the growing season was too unpredictable, the soil too rocky, and farming the land took potential forest land away. No doubt some part of it was for the safety of the women and children who maintained those fields in a time of increasing war--it was easier to hide in the water among the lilies and reeds than hide in a field. Neighbouring peoples found this lack of maize cultivation strange, as did English travelers such as John Smythe [4] who in 1614 remarked with astonishment that the natives of this area "knowe not the taste of corne but only the plants of their lakes and streames."

West of these peoples lived the various Iroquoian-speaking nations. These tribes were notoriously warlike, often clashing with each other or nearby Algonquians for captives and animal herds. Mixed cultivators of maize, beans, and squash as well as aquaculture of Fusanian origin, they were skilled reindeer herders. Their large reindeer herds, fertile lands, and occupied a strategic location, making them wealthier than the groups along the coast. Their largest towns, temporary as they might be, held up to 2,000 people.

The strongest among them were the Kanadiers, the Vændat, and the Haudenosaunee, each divided into several separate nations [5]. Their greatest trading partners were with those Innu tribes in the north--from them they imported much copper, tin, bronze, and gold to become the most important supplier of those metals in the northeastern woodlands. In exchange, they sold them their agricultural surplus, salt, and slaves who would be worked to death in the mines.

Their most notable trade good was perhaps maple syrup, taken from the sap of the sugar maple. All peoples of the northeast and Great Lakes gathered maple syrup and produced maple sugar, which they exported as far north as Markland and as far south as the lower Ohio. Widespread adoption of copper pots by 1200 aided in making maple sugar feasible to produce in large quantities compared to prior birch bark equipment.

In the 13th century Iroquoian nations discovered a unique property of maple syrup--it might ferment like anything else, and if managed correctly, this fermentation was both potent and delicious. The discoverer is unknown, although stories of its origin seem to point to it being discovered by merchants. The Iroquoians thus produced the first maple mead in the world, which like palm wine in Africa was a celebrated drink for rituals and feasts, consumed at winter and spring ceremonies and exported widely as a ritual drink for this purpose.

Unfortunately, maple mead was occasionally abused among the Iroquoians, who unlike groups to the west did not drink anything beyond very light alcohol. Conventionally around 15% ABV, some drank it heavily at feasts, ceremonies, and even daily life which naturally brought addiction and violence. Iroquoian nations were reputed as drunkards by outsiders, for they were the main producers of the drink. Traditional history claims it became such a problem that wars were started by drunkards--for this reason, in later centuries consumption of maple mead would be strictly regulated by the Great Law of Peace.

West of them, the Great Lakes Algonquians were marginal and diverse peoples living in the shadows of the wealthier Misebians to their south and west and Innu to their north. Their economy centered on reindeer pastoralism, although they also conducted much aquaculture (especially of Vinland rice) and served as middlemen in the metal trade. Somewhat influenced by the Misebians to their south, they frequently raided them over access to grazing ground, retreating into their dense forests to avoid reprisals.

The strongest confederation in the area was the Council of Three Fires, traditionally founded in the 8th century, but whatever ancient alliance existed did not fully assemble until around 1300, when the three nations represented united to oppose increasing encroachment from the raids of the maritime Tejana nation of Upper Misebians. In particular this concerned the city of Kechangkhetera, located on an island in the Straits of Mackinac the people of the Three Fires considered the birthplace of the world.

Oral history tells the Three Fires sacked Kechangkhetera around that date, but the local warriors put up a fierce resistance and killed many warriors of the Three Fires. However, the rulers of the Tejana refused to believe their feats in battle, so the Tejana warriors defected and made peace with the Three Fires, becoming the Teagra. In return for their bravery, the Three Fires permitted them to occupy the island on the condition the Teagra never make war on them again and give them perpetual access to the island. While the Teagra never joined the Three Fires, their island served as its meeting place and the Teagra themselves acted as mediators.

Other groups in this area were no less effective. The Mascouten, Menominee, and other groups were equally effective at navigating the diplomatic situation regarding the Ohio Misebians and the Upper Misebians. Each group was more agricultural than the Three Fires to their north, farming much Vinland rice, yet their reindeer herds were in constant need of expansion. To the Upper Misebians they were among the most dangerous enemies.

On the Atlantic Coast, lay peoples such as the Migmak and Havnaki. They lived similar lifestyles centered around aquaculture and pastoralism, although never adopted maize agriculture to begin with. They were somewhat wealthier, deriving their wealth from both trade with various Iroquoian nations and especially contact with the Norse. This periodic trade gave them access to many exotic goods and led to reputations of wealth.

Norse traders largely focused on this northeastern fringe of this region. While the Norse are recorded to have explored the lower reaches of the Kanada River in the early 13th century at the height of their early trade in North America, they rarely sailed this far from their bases in Markland. Most Norse goods in this region likely passed through the hands of the local Migmak people or especially the Ilinu people of Leivsland, the closest major society to the Norse who practically monopolised trade with them.

While the trade was small-scale and sparse compared to later standards, Norse goods reshaped native societies. Beads, jewelry, and Norse fabrics served as prominent luxury goods among the peoples of the Kanada and northeast coast. The Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples of the St. Lawrence region developed increasingly complex art and aesthetics thanks to this wealth, with rulers in particular wearing richly ornamented and dyed robes and fur turbans gleaming with beads. The Migmak and Havnaki further adopted sails from the Norse, the southernmost groups to do so.

Sailing technology was fairly primitive yet functional. Dugout canoes and birchbark kayaks were still widely used and only the Innu and northeastern peoples used sails, the latter almost certainly borrowed from the Norse. Innu sails were flamboyant in colour and attached to the largest ships that cruised inland rivers. Originating from similar sails among the interior Dena peoples, these likely were used as prestige symbols by wealthy men. They offered little mechanical benefit, and their main role in history was their inspiring of the far more productive sailing technology of the Misebian peoples.

Before the 14th century, the only other group in Eastern North America employing large sailing ships were those north of Cape Cod [6], whose origins date to around 1200. Their ships were larger and more seaworthy, with larger sails of tehi. Because traditional ship designs superficially resembled a Norse knarr, it is speculated these ships were at the very least inspired by Norse designs although claims they were introduced by Norse merchants are inaccurate. These ships were ocean-going vessels capable of making long journeys and were used primarily to exploit the rich fishing waters of the Grand Banks and Georges Bank. Coastal peoples caught cod in bulk and preserved them with salt they produced from seawater or at salt springs, while other fishing boats operated lobster traps.

The increasing wealth and population in the 12th and 13th century prompted complex political organisations among the eastern peoples. The chief, termed a sachem [7], was a hereditary position elected from the village nobles by his council of nobles from among the sons of the previous chief's sisters. They held little actual power and was responsible for settling disputes and keeping his people prosperous by persuasing through words and gifts. The council itself consisted of the heads of each clan, one or two senior warriors also who commanded military operations and defense, and occasionally other men respected for their services.

The war chiefs were the only exclusively male positions--powerful women (nearly always the widows of powerful sachems) were occasionally elected to the council or to position of sachem itself. Among the Iroquoians, the seniormost woman of each clan were even responsible for nominating the sachem and at the same time, removing him from office if necessary.

A sachem's territory consisted of only a single village or town of rarely more than 500 people. However, because people had relatives in other towns and villages, these sachems often worked together in councils and assembled into greater confederations, centered at either a religious site or local trade center. They helped negotiate with other powers, although rarely held the power to make war, that power granted only to the entire tribe. Each sachem was typically equal in rights to the others at these great meetings, yet might differ in roles or prestige.

The specifics of these groups varied. Among the southerly groups, Misebian influence no doubt led them to crown a single sachem (there often called names like weroance) as a supreme ruler (there termed names like mamanatowick [8]), although his influence over towns in the confederation limited to only persuasion. Among Iroquoians, the confederations acted democratically, with chiefs appointed to the council representing their entire nation. As warfare grew more intense by the end of the 13th century, these confederations even began tentatively uniting into broader assemblies through alliances with nearby confederations [9].

Among most peoples, the decision to declare war required consent of the all men and women. It arose out of petitions to sachems, who in turn summoned the people and asked them if they wanted to fight. If enough warriors volunteered, then war was declared. Once war was declared, warriors who refused to fight would often be shamed into joining the conflict. Conflicts were led by dedicated war chiefs--sachems were generally forbidden from spilling blood.

Warfare in eastern North America was similar to that among the Misebians, where men fought in small groups from the same clan and avoided lengthy sieges. Warriors focused on feats of bravery that included capturing or scalping opponents. These captives would be ritually tortured, sacrificed and then cannibalised with jewelry made out of his skull, as the main justification for war was avenging one's tribe. Women and children taken prisoner would almost always be adopted into the tribe as replacements for deceased kin, yet this was not universally the case. A small number of people were for varying reasons never adopted, either because of their continued rejection of their new society or for future trade to other groups--the latter was especially common among Norse-influenced groups.

Weapons consisted of the bow and arrow, axes, and maces. These copper headed maces replaced war clubs of wood, bone, and stone by 1200 and served as symbols of prestige. Poorer warriors occasionally still fought with stone weapons, but by the end of the 13th century, copper or bronze weapons were nearly universal and among some northern peoples, even iron weapons, traded from the Norse. Tomahawks made of bronze or iron were popular close-quarters weapons. Asymmetric access to these weapons allowed northerly peoples to make many successful raids against those who lacked them. Armour included long tunics made from leather and wooden rods and wicker shields, but some men eschewed armour entirely, fighting mostly naked for mobility out of belief in their strength.

Religion was highly diverse in the eastern woodlands. In the southern and northwestern regions, Misebian-derived cults prevailed. The high priest tended eternally-burning fires and made offerings to spirits while conducting rituals that connected people to their ancestors and ensured proper passage to the afterlife. In contrast, the Iroquoians and some Algonquians were sky worshippers, who worshipped an ancestral deity (often personified as an old woman) and controlled the infinite spirits of nature by conducting proper rituals to the lesser deities and spirits by following correct conduct, dances and offerings.

Like Fusania, acquisition of guardian spirits was common in this region, as were secret religious societies, not the least among them the Midewiwin ("Medicine Society"). These societies controlled religious rituals and constituted a network of ritualists who helped unite the tribe as one, although unlike South Fusania they never usurped public power. Qwinishtis mentions these beliefs in Saga of the Lands of Dawn:

"It was no surprise the Marukhatkhs [Algonquian] [10] warriors saved our expedition against Yits'iniit for their leader called out to me with his guardian spirit, a spirit from the same family as my own. I had not felt a spirit of this intensity among these Hillmen in some time and indeed so many of his people possessed these strong spirits, not just their priests. Yet I became wary, for the spirits who aid the Hillmen are corrupt even if they speak to their brothers among us civilised people [11]. The warrior refused to speak more of his people's rituals, for they are the property of priests who wander the land and gather in secretive lodges, much as the fanatics of those lands far to our country's south."

These secret societies used birch bark scrolls replete with simple depictions of natural objects as devices for passing down their teachings. Reading these scrolls was a carefully guarded secret. Their origin is unknown--some claim Norse origin, but the tradition appeared among even societies with little contact with the Norse. To what degree they function as writing is unknown, but their system was simpler than either Mesoamerican codices or Fusanian totem writing.

Shamans played a crucial role in governance, especially in the north. They were always consulted in decision-making and presided over healing and divination ceremonies, ensuring their connections and wealth. They were feared and respected for their supernatural powers, valuable traits for a sachem to have. In the northeast and north, shamans and sachems were often one and the same. Yet there were always those wary of shamans holding too much influence over society, and the distinction between the traditionalist "shamanistic" faction and the more innovative "secular" factions was a mainstay of indigenous politics in Eastern North America.

The Norse tried and failed to introduce Christianity among the natives. St. Jon Hallgrimsson, a Greenlandic saint famed as the Apostle to Vinland, is recorded to have sent native acolytes to the south accompanying merchants. Likely these men appeared among the Innu, and Migmak peoples. While religious syncreticism was common in some areas of Markland and Helluland frequently by the Norse, in Vinland it failed entirely. The Norse way of life, including Christianity, seemed to be at odds with native religion.

However, traces of Christianity were present. The Salmon Clan, present among the Innu, Migmak, and Havnaki preserved aspects of Christianity in heavily distorted form. A few Salmon Clan members were of Norse descent, although the majority were descended from baptised natives or mixed-race people assimilated into other native groups. Their beliefs centered around headless winged spirits each person was born with that observed everything one said, did, and thought. They report to their master, the sky god, who after consulation with his nephew and heir chooses to either damn the soul forever or permit it to pass into paradise based on one's conduct. Those chosen by the sky god as his workers on Earth are granted the power to heal, control natural spirits, and predict the future.

The Salmon Clan's religion was just as secretive as the medicine societies. Members used cross iconography, Christian-inspired hymns, a local variety of incense and annointing oil, and crossed themselves in their rituals and worship. It was not popular outside their clan and those who married into it, with much of its knowledge restricted to members they baptised and bestowed new names (often of Christian origin or symbolism) upon, names kept secret to outsiders. Yet it carried much sway, for the Salmon Clan were sailors and merchants and often quite wealthy. Among fishermen throughout the eastern woodlands, their incense was famed for its ability to drive away bad weather and lure fish while the sign of the cross was made before fishing expeditions to ensure spiritual success.

Small, limited, and remote as their operations were, the Norse and their legacy would be the dominant force acting on Eastern North America from 1200-1500. The Leivian exchange brought both rats and cats to this region. The former posed a greater threat to food reserves than native rats, while the latter ironically helped spread introduced rats as cats preferred slower, ecologically naive American rodents. Cats especially spread by trade, acquiring a reputation as the animals of merchants and especially shamans for their ability to eliminate rodent pests--allegedly cats were only able to hunt rats because a benevolent shaman controlled their actions, for rats were ranked among insect pests as a spiritual curse against humans.

The greatest impact of the Leivian exchange was of course the three epidemics of chickenpox, mumps, and whooping cough, all of which first struck Eastern North America in the first decade of the 13th century. At least 10% of the population died and practically every major town was burnt and abandoned by its residents. Because so much territory was left abandoned and unused, warfare sharply increased as tribes fought to establish new boundaries. In addition to these epidemics, strains of seal flu arrived from Fusania that although not as deadly as the initial outbreak still produced death rates of up to 5% once a generation.

Yet for the average person of the Eastern Woodlands, those valuable trade goods and skills brought by the Norse would continue to play an undue role in society for centuries to come. Long before the vast majority of people ever saw a European man, their societies already fell under Europe's influence in the form of iron and beads. Had they been able to trace it to the source, perhaps they would have been much more wary of the changes coming their way in 1500. Those few societies in contact with the Norse, at the remotest fringes of the eastern woodlands, certainly knew that, for they were to inherit far greater gifts from those European interlopers.

Author's notes

This entry covers primarily Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples of the east coast and Great Lakes, perhaps the groups most often thought of as the typical "Indian." Much of the society encountered by the Pilgrims, Puritans, Jamestown colonists, etc. is the product of increasing European influence in the form of greater wealth and shifting economies since even before the first European settlement. I suspect reindeer pastoralism plus access to Norse trade goods would more or less cause these societies to look uncannily similar to the typical post-contact natives of the late 17th century, yet far more advantaged as this shift is on their own terms.

I'm breaking from my usual orthographic conventions for this entry as many languages of Eastern North America are incredibly poorly attested (usually just badly transcribed word lists, if that) and their phonology uncertain. I also don't know what my plans for the East Coast are TTL aside from some things with the Norse.

I decided to cover Newfoundland [Leivsland] along with the Norse in my next chapter, since its society becomes rather Norse influenced thanks to constant interaction and the emergence of a particular Metis group.

As ever, thank you for reading. As this entry comes out on (American) Thanksgiving, please have a happy and understanding holiday.

[1] - Leivsland is Newfoundland, TTL eventually renamed for Leif Eriksson with Vinland coming to mean all of Norse America
[2] - The Kanada River is the St. Lawrence, "Kanada" of course the same root as "Canada", which was the river's name at one point
[3] - TTL term for Ohio Valley Siouan languages. Despite their name, many speakers of these languages lived in the Appalachians before they were largely destrouyed/absorbed into other groups in 17th century wars with whites and other Indians
[4] - I'm not sure yet if I want this to be OTL John Smith (who sometimes spelled his name like this) or someone else by that name, but given the sheer number of 17th century Englishmen who spelled their name "John Smythe", another explorer having a name like that isn't implausible
[5] - I will use the native names (although the conventional colonial names such as "Huron" and "Iroquois" are still widely used in the literature), as these nations will be most described by the Norse rather than the French. The Kanadiers correspond to the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, the Vændat the Huron, and the Haudenosaunee the Iroquois--each group was historically a confederacy divided into several nations, but this arose later so the Mohawk, Seneca, etc. would still be far more separate.
[6] - This area, OTL Upper New England and the Maritimes, seems to have been culturally distinct even in pre-contact times from Lower New England. Naturally trade with the Norse makes this even more the case.
[7] - I'll use "sachem" for this office as it is the most common English term besides "chief" ("sagamore" is just a variant, although I should make the long belated note that I've done the same thing some writers in the past have done with sachem vs sagamore with my own alt-Sahaptins and miyawakh vs miyuukh--for now I don't plan on retconning this)
[8] - The title Chief Powhatan of Jamestown fame likely used, often translated in English as "paramount chief".
[9] - This appears to be the system the League of the Iroquois (which had analogues among the Wyandot and some other Iroquoian nations) evolved out of
[10] - Qwinishtis calls them Marukhatkhs, a corruption of "woruha" (a generic term meaning "enemy" in Dhegihan Siouan).
[11] - Generally Fusanians believe guardian spirits are related to each other, like for instance two people with otter guardian spirits inherited sibling or cousin spirits.
Chapter 87-To Sail Between the Worlds
"To Sail Between the Worlds"

Venarfjord, 1225​

Something shook Asgrim Jonsson worse than the shaking of any boat. He jolted awake in panic, afraid those men in suits of wood with their faces painted red from ochre and blood might have returned. To his immediate relief, it was just his mother, Halldora, yet his breath still came quickly. He wondered if the Skraeling man rowing the oar in front of him might be one of them, those monsters who took everything from him.

"It's okay, Asgrim. We're here in a safe place now." She patted his head, but her hand was unusually bony. She must have been even hungrier than he was.

"We're gone, right? We're in Greenland now, or Iceland, or Norway, or..."

"Venarfjord, where your uncle lives. He is both the chief and the priest of this town."

Asgrim's face went pale as he sighed in defeat. He was never going to leave this land until he met Christ. Memories of that village in the south he had lived his entire life at filled his mind as he gazed at the entrance of the fjord in front of him. The trees were much smaller and the mountains more bare, yet it looked the same as Grenholt.

"I-is he better than that man who killed Dad?" Asgrim clutched his knife, recalling the face of his father, Jon Ulfsson, still with a fresh scar from the last battle he fought. He had handed him that knife before he departed under that Icelander bastard Viga-Haukr to fight the Innu. He promised us victory, yet we lost so much.

"Of course he is, dear. Venarfjord is safe. We'll gain so much from being here...just like our family always has."

He wanted to scream, or even jump over the side of the ship in hopes the oceans claimed him and not the skraelings, yet as he saw the high mountains rising out of the fog, he suddenly felt calm again. It felt as if those mountains embraced him, keeping him safe from the terrifying world outside. Some in front of him muttered about Venarfjord.

This fjord was a lot more rugged than Grenholt. The trees grew like shrubs or had long since been stripped of all their wood, and the Skraeling huts near the mouth of the fjord reminded Asgrim that he wasn't totally safe. Two tall Skraeling man glared at him from the shore as they worked on butchering a seal. Yet as they traveled deeper into the fjord, passing islands and the mouths of creeks, cheers in the boat turned his attentioned to distant smoke rising--a town!

"Venarfjord...is this it?" Asgrim thought to himself.

Asgrim had never seen any town this large, for he was born and lived his whole live in and around Grenholt. The smoke of the houses seemed to fill half the fjord as the green sod of their roofs rose out from the ground. The high palisade studded with the occasional platform for watchmen signaled a security found nowhere else. In the middle of the town he saw another tall tower with a cross alighting it. If even these walls aren't enough, then that church will protect us! The Lord would never let those heathens destroy something so grand!

His mother noticed Asgrim's sudden change in mood.

"See, Venarfjord isn't so bad. We'll definitely be safe here. It's a town nearly as great as the biggest in Greenland or even Iceland."

"M-Maybe you're right. Maybe we really can start our lives over in this land."

A newfound optimism filled Asgrim as the ship pulled closer and closer to a dock. Not only was he safe, but he was going to start a new life to gain that prosperity his father always promised him.
Venarfjord, 1236​

"You would really give this up, Uncle Magnus?" Asgrim Jonsson asked. "You're really leaving this land with everything we need?"

"You know I've wanted to go back to Greenland since I was a boy. And now I finally have that option." Magnus gestured his staff toward the shifty man standing at the door, his garb the strange patterns of the cloaks the skraelings wore. It was clasped by a crude brooch which still bore traces of some bizarre skraeling art style.

"Who will be priest if you're selling it all to Audun Eriksson, that half-skraeling!?"

Audun smiled at the conversation before him as Magnus put a wrinkled hand on his nephew's shoulder. He is like me when I was his age.

"I told you to marry his daughter while you still could. But I told you a lot of things, didn't I?"

"Worry not, Asgrim Jonsson," Audun said, "The chieftainship will be in good hands with me. And we're going to need it." A sudden worry came over that man's face.

"You see the coming chaos, don't you?" Magnus said. "Fitting for a survivor of Grenholt who still resides in Markland."

"Anyone with a clear mind might see it, Magnus Ulfsson. One day we will outlive our welcome with the Skraelings. The Ölurskraelings welcomed us for 15 years before destroying us. They are more ill-natured than the Skraelings of this land, but all men reach a point when they grow tired of each other [1]."

"That doesn't matter, all I care about is my uncle making these decisions for me," Asgrim said. "This beautiful country and its people are my inheritance!"

"If you think like that, then go to Norway and join King Haakon's hird and pray he names you ruler of one of his lands." Audun advised. "Markland is a free land, more free than Iceland or Greenland. Be they skraeling or Norse, we follow only those who provide for us."

Asgrim clenched his fist as he knew the truth of Audun's words. He looked to his uncle once again for advice, but his uncle simply shook his head.

"Uncle, why?"

"I am old and finally wanted to see Greenland. And more importantly..." Magnus looked to Audun, who produced a string of small gold plates from his cloak. Asgrim's eyes went wide as he gazed upon the horrific art of the skraelings, full of crude engravings of animals and birds. So much gold in one place! Impossible...

"I see the stories of your gambling prowess are true," Magnus said approvingly. "Yet one disc is missing. I want to see the one they say you took from that Ölurskraeling lord."

"If I part with that one, I'd be like my namesake, that Audun who sold everything he had when he bought that polar bear from my father."

"No matter. I've heard rumours it is unlike any other medallion these Skraeling lords wear. They say it came from far to the west, as far as the west meets the east, proof the Skraelings trade with Prester John's kingdom and knew of Christ even before ourown Jon Hallgrimson arrived."

"Gaze upon it for yourself then." Audun took from his cloak one last amulet, larger and thicker than the others. In the flickering candlelight its texture seemed different, as if forged from a different sort of gold. Engraved on the surface was a cross within a circle where at each end strange animals glared out at him, animals drawn in a distinct style from the typical Skraeling art. Their eyes unnerved Asgrim, as if angered they had been brought so far from their homeland.

"Fascinating...I could study this the remainder of my life," Magnus noted in awe. "Yet that in the center appears like Yggdrasil, the tree I believe our ancestors worshipped before reached by the light of Christ. Yet I have never heard of an eagle perched atop it, nor seen an eagle with such a strange look."

"Some of the Skraelings believe in such trees, yes," Audun said. "Yet what of those beasts? That looks like another eagle, a more normal one I suppose, and I suppose that's a raven. Maybe the other two are a wolf and a bear? I wonder whatt his Skraeling"

"Typical Skraeling heathenry," Asgrim said. "It looks almost like the devil's craftsmanship."

"Maybe it is," Audun replied, putting the medallion away. "I've seen the Skraelings torture people to death and devour their bodies in the most horrifying rituals. It's good I'm not selling it to a man of God."

"It is God's will you do sell it to me, though," Magnus said. "I cannot leave for Greenland without it."

"That'll cost you much more than a chieftainship then," Audun said. He looked around, examining a Skraeling vase by the window where a purplish sweetvetch flower grew, a Skraeling gift. "Looks like you don't have much else."

"I don't understand either of you," said Asgrim. "Just what do you need so much gold for, uncle? A chieftainship in Greenland?"

"I'm buying something greater than a chieftainship. I will buy the highest seat in the church, a bishopric. Right now, there is no bishop in Greenland. If I put myself forward to the chiefs of Greenland, then surely they will select me as a compromise for I am old and will be with the Lord soon [2]."

"You, a bishop!?"

"I've wanted it the moment I understood what this land was and what it meant to me. I once despised this country and chased after nothing but riches, then I learned the true value of wealth is ruling over the hearts of men in the name of our father sitting in heaven. That was the only way I tamed the savage Skraelings."

Audun clapped his hands.

"Wonderful I am dealing with such a good Christian then!"

"A good Christian? The Lord forgives, but sometimes I do not..."

He tapped his staff on the floor three times and in an instant a chunk of the wall gave way as a man Audun recognised as his cousin Olafr jumped out and put Audun at knifepoint. In the confusion, Audun dropped the medallion onto the ground, where it rolled and came to a rest at Asgrim's feet. Asgrim hesitated for a moment, but put his boot on it as Audun knocked Olafr away from him and drew a hatchet from his cloak.

He backed up, preparing for a fight as he stashed the remainder of the gold in his cloak.

"Heh, what the hell do you think you're doing, priest? You'll be lucky to buy a chieftainship with that gold, let alone the holy seat of bishop!"

"Olafr put down the knife and show him what you found," Magnus commanded.

"Yes, father." Olafr, a short, wiry man of mixed descent, produced a gold medallion identical to that they had just looked over.

"Asgrim, what is that there?"

"Asgrim grabbed the Skraeling medallion from underneath his boot, suddenly confused why there are two of them."

"You must have a very good reason to carry around these fake gold medallions. God looks poorly on defrauding his ministers. Was the rest of your gold fake as well?"

Audun lowered his hatchet, keeping a close eye on Olafr, but kept silent. Magnus pointed to a shiny candlestick on his wooden table and shrugged.

"I'm a wealthy chief and man of the church. I am around gold more than all but the merchants of Hafnarfjörður. Melting a trifle amount of gold and mixing it with copper might fool the usual chief, Skraeling or Christian, but it will not fool me."

"You're very insightful even in your last moments!" Audun charged at Olafr, but Magnus swung his staff at Audun's legs, knocking him to the ground. Asgrim immediately helped his cousin restrain the swindler.

"This sort of fraud and forgery against the church might make you an outlaw if the Greenland Althing hears about it," Magnus said. "Should my kin kill you here to spare you the grief?"

"Tch..." Audun spat on the ground beneath Olafr's sturdy boot. "Sending that man to search my ship for that disc is also a crime. And you won't want to kill me. There will be an army of Skraelings on Venarfjord by the next moon."

"Is that true, Uncle?" Asgrim asked, suddenly worried.

"I believe it, which is why I want him to hold up his end of the bargain and give me actual gold so he can have the chieftainship."

Audun frowned, annoyed at the course of the situation.

"It's all in my ship. Just go there and you'll find my gold...if you can."

"Wonderful," Magnus said. He motioned to Olafr and Asgrim to get off Audun, although Asgrim took the man's axe just in case. Magnus helped Audun to his feet, glaring directly at him.

"You are a dishonest, wicked man, but talented in every aspect. For that alone I am confident you'll lead Venarfjord well."

Audun smiled.

"Against those dishonest, wicked Skraelings, our people need nothing less. Good luck dealing with the church, Bishop, I will be dealing with a situation far worse."


Far across the ocean to the east lay the Old World, the cradle of humanity where the oldest civilisations developed. Contact between Old and New World occurred very rarely and went unknown and unrecorded for countless centuries. Yet the 1st millennium saw the increasing integration of the northwestern fringe of the Old World into society as a whole. This economic and cultural integration gave rise to Norse society, their legendary Viking raids, and an unprecedented era of exploration that led the two worlds into their first collision.

The source of this exploration goes back to the roots of the so-called Viking Age in of itself. Northern Europe's increasing integration with the world under the Frankish Empire and wealth from the Islamic world's trade routes provoked great social changes in Scandinavia that prompted increasing centralisation. In addition, the Medieval Warm Period helped spur a population increase. Large numbers of men readily followed those with ambition in expeditions that varied in purpose from trade, raiding, and eventually even settlement. The beneficial climate produced a less stormy North Atlantic with reduced sea ice. These conditions permitted the Norse conquest of islands such as Orkney, Hjaltland, and the Faroes.

The greatest settlement of all of these was Iceland, settled at the end of the 9th century. It was not an appealing place, even in medieval times, for it was a cold and volcanic island in the midst of the ocean. The soil was poor and vegetation sparse, particularly after its rapid deforestation, while the interior was an uninhabitable land full of glaciers and volcanic desert, lacking sustenance even for livestock. Even so, it offered free land (for the initial settlers) and even for later settlers, a place of refuge and a place to make oneself, for it was a place of social mobility of the sort which was declining back in Scandinavia.

Here the Norse set about reproducing society both adapted to the conditions of their new land and repudiating the perceived excesses of their homeland [3]. Traditional rights found in Norse society were expanded and codified into a system of courts, while chiefs were expected to be generous and attentive to the needs of their followers and nigh-incapable of coercing them. While violent feuds were a common factor of Icelandic life, the courts--and Iceland's own social system--mitigated the worst of it, for few of Iceland's free farmers cared to follow those constantly quarreling with neighbours. Iceland was thus never governed by a king, but only its courts and freemen, a society highly unusual in medieval Europe but a commonly found one in North America.

Naturally, people still fell afoul of this system. Powerful chiefs and those freemen allied to them might bend the justice system in their favour, and some individuals were simply disliked for their personal conduct. These people might be driven elsewhere, as was the case of Erik the Red, banished from Iceland in the late 10th century for killing men out of vengeance for murdering his slaves.

To maintain his livelihood, Erik led men to settle the poorly known lands to the west known as Greenland. He established the manor of Brattahlid, inviting settlers from Iceland and Norway to his new land. The new society in Greenland replicated Icelandic institutions such as an Althing and a code of law inspired by both Iceland and Norway. Although the coast of Greenland was barren and mostly treeless and the interior incredibly steep, for Norse farmers it represented free pastures for their livestock and in years of fortunate weather, fields for growing rye, barley, and oats.

While violent feuds and no center of power dominated Iceland, in Greenland matters were different. Feuds were less common and more easily resolved thanks to the dominance of the chief seated at the manor of Brattahlid from both prestige as heir to Erik the Red (even after Erik's line died out in the 11th century) and from the manor's size and prosperity. Brattahlid's chief had many followers and helped resolve disputes even beyond his region thanks to his prestige at the Greenlandic Althing, held nearby at Gardar. Undoubtedly this more peaceful society owed itself to an increasing fear of the harsh environment, reflected in the literature of the Greenlanders.

The settlement of Greenland and the discovery of Vinland occurred within a generation and were inextracibly linked. The efforts of Leif Erikson (son of Erik the Red), Thorfinn Karlsefni, and later settlers produced little luck in Leivsland, but did open up new fortune in Markland. In Markland, Greenland's settlers found a crucial good--timber--essential for replenishing their increasingly deforested homeland. What's more, they found the rarest of all goods--oxwool.

Domesticated centuries before by the Inuit along the Strait of Ringitania, the muskox accompanied the Inuit on their migrations that by the 11th century sent them all the way to Markland. The muskox produced a soft and strong inner fur from which was spun the warm luxury fiber termed "oxwool." The Norse discovered this for themselves in the 11th century, and this immediately reoriented their explorations west of Greenland into searching for new sources of this. This culminated in the settlement of Venarfjord in 1120, a permanent Norse colony intended to act as a base for trading with the natives they termed skraelings along with cutting timber. As Venarfjord gained success and importance to Greenland, its ruler acquired a chieftainship for himself [4].

Oxwool first found great value among the elite of Iceland and Greenland. A son of Magnus Thorgrimsson, founder of Venarfjord, purchased a chieftainship in Iceland for himself in 1130 with only a few shirts of oxwool. Iceland's elite took notice and sent their followers on expeditions to Greenland--or sometimes even further to Markland--to purchase oxwool for themselves. Those who went to Venarfjord ended up successful, while others met mixed results. Over the next few decades, many died at sea or at the hands of the skraelings although a few found success outside of Venarfjord.

In Greenland, oxwool upended the local economy. The trading port of Herjolfsnes in the far south became more important, as did Sandnes in the north due to its port having less ice [5]. These chiefs became increasingly competitive with those at Brattahlid due to their newfound wealth from timber and oxwool, with associated feuding generally carried out in Markland.

The craze for oxwool reached Europe a generation later. Oxwool is recorded as a commodity purchased in Bergen, the key Norwegian port, by merchants from continental Europe around 1180, and records discussing "kiffet" (an alternative name, clearly derived from Inuit qiviut) appear in Scotland by 1200. Medieval descriptions portray it as the most soft and warm fabric fit for kings, lavishing it terms such as "Greenland silk."

Its source was not known--some speculated Greenland was so remote the cows grew thick coats they lacked in warmer climates, or that Greenland had a specific sort of native cattle species. By 1300, however, educated Europeans called the animal terms derived from its Old Norse name sauðnaut [6] such as English "sannolt", although in many languages such as English that term is now an archaic one.

Markland's amount of oxwool wasn't inexhaustible. The muskox herders lived only in the northernmost areas above the treeline, and the Norse only encountered these herders when they migrated to the coast. They were fierce enemies of the reindeer-herding Innu, for muskox carried diseases mostly harmless to them but lethal to reindeer. The Norse thus favoured the expansion of the Inuit through alliances--they feasted with the Inuit and gifted them weapons, most notably the iron swords that came to form a symbol of tribal leadership among the Inuit. This alliance let the Inuit push far to the south and turn all of coastal Markland north of the Naskappenfjord [7] into a hunting ground for their own needs, driving the Innu further inland.

The Norse understood well that Skraeling politics functioned similarly to their own. The sagas show they conceived indigenous leaders like one of their own chieftains, knowing he was prestigious yet reliant on being able to provide for his followers. They did not reduce the Inuit or Innu to a single group under the command of one leader, but instead tried discerning prominent individuals among them to deal with them.While an imperfect method spoiled by their own cultural biases, it worked far better than later European practices of treating native rulers in the decentralised east as kings.

Even so, the Norse had difficult relations with the Innu even in the best times, for the Innu associated them as allies of the hated Inuit. The Norse relied on the Innu for timber cutting, as quality timber around Venarfjord so close to the treeline quickly diminshed from demand. The Innu extorted great sums of goods from the Norse, which sometimes resulted in the Innu chief being overthrown by an ambitious follower who attacked the Norse anyway.

This kept almost all Norse settlements and trading posts temporary, seasonal affairs. Even in country claimed by the Inuit, Innu war parties regularly attacked Norse who tried to support their trading posts there in hopes of claiming their valuable goods. Despite their more primitive weapons, the Innu held the advantage with their mobility. This kept alive a martial tradition in Greenland, for Greenlanders often joined raids retaliating for slain kin.

A few Norse tried settling this region anyway. In 1210, Viga-Haukr Ormsson, an exile from Iceland, won support from the chief of Hvalsey to claim land in the south along the Naskappenfjord. With allies among the local Inuit, he lured Greenlanders from Venarfjord and established a farm/trading post/manufactory hybrid in the vein of Venarfjord called Grenholt. With its palisade, it survived several initial attacks. Haukr claimed a gold medallion from a fallen Innu sachem, and acquired another in a peace treaty he signed with a second Innu band along with some silver beads [8].

This reignited Norse interest in these southern lands, for gold and silver were exceptionally rare commodities in Iceland and Greenland. It became the key base for trading with Leivsland and the growing settlement of Straumfjord, home to a community of mixed Norse-natives. Haukr's relative Magnus Markusson travelled even further south, exploring the Gulf of Kanada and traveling up the Kanada River and reporting the natives owned gold and silver, which he purchased from them by selling his sword and several knives.

This colony lasted only 15 years. Warfare with the Innu reignited, and this time the Innu came in greater numbers and besieged the town in winter. As long as snow was on the ground, the Innu kept the Norse confined with their reindeer-pulled sleds that gave them frightening mobility. Dozens of Norse died in skirmishes (including Viga-Haukr himself) or from disease, and their livestock herds completely wiped out. The Norse held out until the summer, when they evacuated on the scheduled trading ship, although the next year the Norse returned, killed Innu reindeer and towey goat herds, and won a favourable peace settlement that permitted them to retain a smaller camp.

The Norse trade in this region focused on obtaining walrus tusks, timber, and iron. Likely they had been denied access to the walrus hunting and iron gathering on Bjørneøen by manipulations of hostile chiefs. This brought them south to Leivsland, where relations with the Innu were complex at best and occasionally even beyond there to lands as far south as Kanada Bay. These Norse traders (often exiles from Greenland) acted independently, attempting to gain wealth from trade, prestige in battle (capturing the gold or silver medallions of indigenous leaders was common), or new followers.

The latter often involved the Norse permanently settling among the natives. Although to the Norse they were swarthy pagans who spoke alien languages, the fact they were farmers who tolerated Norse individuals to settle among them was more than enough. These men, perhaps only a few dozen at most in the 1100-1500 period, married into the community and often were thoroughly assimilated, their legacy remaining as the Salmon Clans found in Eastern North America. For the natives, they brought knowledge of new agricultural techniques, connected them to Norse trading links, and introduced sheep into their communities.

In the north, the Norse quest for oxwool took them back to Helleland by around 1080, but their presence didn't become permanent here until 1105. Less connected to the Norse trade and still at war with the last Kinngait culture people, the Inuit of Helleland gladly accepted Norse goods and weapons in exchange for their muskox pelts and the privilege to hunt walrus and gather bog iron.

It was still too cold for the Norse to settle, however, so the Norse stayed only during the warmer months. Even at its economic height, only those Norse who married Inuit women or were exceptionally unfortunate, overwintered on Helleland--the majority returned home before the ice floes stopped travel. Their camp was well-provisioned by the standards of either Norse or Inuit and maintained inhabitation year-round--Norse in summer, Inuit in winter.

With the exception of Venarfjord and Grenholt, no real attempts at settlement in the New World were made in the 13th century beside an attempt on Leivsland rapidly destroyed by the Innu. Therefore, no organised land-taking occurred [9]. Grenholt consisted of a single farm, while Venarfjord had five farms at its height. At no time did more than 800 Norse stay in Markland, and over half stayed only seasonally. Markland remained under the control of Greenland's Althing and its parish priest under the spiritual authority of Gardar, seat of Greenland's bishop.

Ten Norse trading posts operated in these golden years from 1150 to 1300. Venarfjord with its 200 permanent residents was the undisputed center of these settlements, commanding a network of small farmsteads across the eponymous fjord. Others existed to cut timber, hunt walrus, and trade with the natives. At its southernmost, the trade reached Leivsland, while adventurers ventured even further south to lands in Kanada Bay and up the Kanada River itself in search of gold and silver artifacts. The temporary Norse expeditions in Markland and Helleland became called the vestrsetr, or "the stay in the west" in contrast to the nordrsetr, the walrus hunting expeditions to Bjørneøen [10].

All of this Norse trading activity produced a commercial revolution in the North Atlantic, and key among this was shipbuilding. Venarfjord and Markland as a whole provided the essential ingredient--timber. At first the Norse brought this timber back to Greenland and Iceland to supplement their local stock of wood (predominantly driftwood), yet increasingly they built large, ocean-going knarrs with it right there in Markland. Wood was cut and brought to Venarfjord and assembled into large ships as needed, although in its short existence, Grenholt had a shipyard as well.

There were not many ships--Venarfjord's chief owned one, and in all of Greenland there existed no more than 5 or 6 knarrs at a given time. In Iceland, there similarly was a small number. Yet even these small numbers proved revolutionary, for they freed the people of both islands from the hassle of dealing with merchants from Norway. A mutual interdependence was fostered--although they produced similar trade goods, Greenland's merchants enriched Iceland's chiefs with Markland's goods in exchange for additional cattle or grain (necessary for beer).

By the end of the 12th century, Iceland's economy being increasingly focused on the trade with Greenland and especially Markland. Walrus ivory, reindeer antlers, and above all timber and oxwool arrived in their shores alongside a few gold and silver trinkets. Icelanders received both increasing numbers of foreign merchants and themselves even sent out a few merchants. Those chiefs who promoted this trade grew increasingly wealthy and increasingly monopolised Iceland's system of leadership (although this was by no means the only factor).

The ships allowed Greenland and especially Icelandic merchants to make their own trips to Bergen or very rarely Scotland, where they reaped sizable profits for themselves instead of selling it cheaply and letting the Norwegian merchants gain the profits in their home ports. This aroused the anger and jealously of local merchants who in 1200 complained to King Sverre Sigurdsson of Norway. Sverre ruled in their favour, needing to keep Bergen allied to him during the instability in Norway as Bergen was regularly attacked by his rivals. In response, Icelandic and Greenlandic merchants either turned to smuggling or risked trade in Denmark or Scotland. However, Sverre's edict seems to have been short-lived, for within a decade the Icelanders and Greenlanders returned to Bergen.

In Iceland itself, power had become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few chiefs who owned the majority of the chiefdoms. These chiefs and their clans were universally ship owners involved in the trade with Markland and Norway who derived their wealth from large farms by the sea and increasingly from influence over the church. They often enlisted Norwegian aid (in exchange for their legal power over the church), which as Norway recovered its stability from its civil war, intensified conflict within Iceland. In Greenland, a similar process occurred as conflict emerged between the chiefs of Sandnes, Brattahlid, Hvalsey, and Herjolfsnes.

These wars, conventionally termed the Sturlung era after the name of a prominent clan, lasted around 20 years and saw shifting alliances between the parties in question as well as the Norwegian king (by this time the vigorous and clever ruler Håkon IV, Sverre's grandson). Håkon purchased the titles of chiefs himself and enlisted Icelandic and Greenlandic nobles who frequented his court to lead their allies to victory in the name of the Norwegian crown. The powerful chief, Þórðr kakali Sighvatsson came out on top thanks to his involvement in the oxwool trade, alliance with the Norwegian king, and especially his skill at intrigue--he burnt to death his rival Gissur Þorvaldsson alongside his wife and their three sons at their own farmstead in Flugumýri.

By the standards of the region, battles might be quite large and even involve naval action (invariably involving the trade ships converted for war). In Iceland, a few battles had hundreds of men on either side, while in Greenland, the final battle of the war between Einar Sokkisson, chief of Brattahlid, and Bardr Bjarnesson, chief of Herjolfsnes, involved 200 Greenlanders on either side (almost 15% of Greenland's male population), a contingent of skraeling allies on Bardr' side brought by his ally Pall Audunsson, chief of Venarfjord, and 15 ships, including two knarrs as flagships. Bardr won due to the contribution of his skraeling archers with their powerful bows.

Håkon IV found it easiest to control his North Atlantic domains from a single point. Naming Þórðr kakali ("the stammerer") as Jarl of Iceland, he ordered his administrators to set up their base at the trading village of Hafnarfjörður. In Greenland, Håkon named Bardr his jarl and set up administration at Herjolfsnes. Both Hafnarfjörður and Herjolfsnes were declared kaupstad (market towns), granting them royal permission to hold markets and fairs among other privileges. Competing ports lost their status as fishermen, shipwrights, and most importantly merchants permanently relocated to Hafnarfjörður in Iceland and Herjolfsnes in Greenland. Norwegian law guaranteed eight ships arrived each year to Iceland and two ships arrived to Greenland.

The jarldom in Greenland died out with Bardr Bjarnesson's death in 1271, but in Iceland it persisted even after Þórður's death in 1265. Håkon's successor as king, Magnus the Law-Mender, wanted a strong local force to bring Norwegian customs to the "lawless" land, yet at the same time wanted to avoid provoking the Icelanders, so Þórðr's younger brother and close ally Tumi Sighvatsson the Younger (also known as Tumi Jarl) thus succeeded to the jarldom.

Greenland instead became governed by the local lagmann, all of whom came from the group of nobles who lived much of their life in Norway. While not officially subordinate to Iceland, it defacto held less autonomy and was governed by two lagmann. One lagmann lived at Brattahlid and supervised the Althing, the other at Herjolfsnes. These men were usually Greenlanders elected by the Althing, but required royal assent to assume their position. Such assent came from the Norwegian king's emissary who captained one of the two ships sent every year (hence his common title "Captain of Greenland").

Urbanisation became such a problem for landowners that the jarl strengthened existing prohibitions against landless farmers leaving their fields [11], but at the same time, urbanisation was the source of each jarl's strength. Athough by law agents of the Norwegian king were permitted to buy goods first, in Iceland Tumi Jarl's effectively controlled these men in Hafnarfjörður and thus continued the traditional Icelandic practice of the chief buying first and setting prices on goods. Because there were no other kaupstad in Iceland, the jarl used this traditional law to exercise great influence over Iceland's economy to the benefit of himself and his allies.

Hafnarfjörður and Herjolfsnes were not large, even by medieval standards. In 1300, Hafnarfjörður had no more than 1,000 people, a fraction that of Bergen or other true medieval centers. Herjolfsnes had only 300 people, yet that was almost 10% of Greenland's population. Most people in these cities lived there temporarily--they would be farmers sent by their landlords to fish, foreign merchants, and the small retinue of officials from Norway (who lived there with their families).

Hafnarfjörður functioned as the center of Norway's empire in the North Atlantic. Ships from the Faroes, Orkney, and Hjaltland occasionally made stops there, although trade with Norway remained the dominant factor. After the ships from Bergen, those from Greenland were most valued, for they brought oxwool and walrus ivory, the most valuable trade goods. As it eclipsed all other communities on the island, in 1290 the Bishop of Skalholt Arni Thorlaksson (one of Iceland's two bishops) ordered the seat of his diocese relocated to Hafnarfjörður.

Problems lay on the horizon. The climate of the entire planet was cooling in the late 13th century due to volcanic activity. Ice sheets expanded and with them reshaped weather patterns in the North Atlantic. The number of storms increased and ice floes hindered trade, particularly with Greenland. Sailing off the east coast of Greenland became particularly hazardous to the point fewer and fewer sailors dare make the journey, instead heading directly to Norway [12]. At the same time, these storms led to the nigh-abandonment of trade with Helleland, ending that region as an independent source of oxwool. Only Markland now supplied Iceland with its oxwool.

Markland suffered numerous troubles of its own related to epidemics among the natives and increasing amounts of warfare. The cooling climate made journeys more difficult and dangerous.Worse, the main settlement at Venarfjord became increasingly deforested. Icelanders themselves mitigated this by trading directly with Markland instead of relying on Greenlander intermediaries. Arrival of these unfamiliar Norse only added to the tension with the natives, as well as the Marklandic Norse who viewed them as foreigners seeking to exploit them compared to their Greenlandic kin.

This marked the beginning of Iceland's attempt at dominating the entire North Atlantic. To Iceland's increasingly influential merchants, let alone Iceland's jarl, Hafnarfjörður should be the center from which all politics from the Faroes to Hjaltland and Orkney to Markland orbited about. In 1297, Sighvat Tumasson (son of Tuma Jarl) petitioned Norwegian king Eric II for authority over Greenland (which included Markland), using the pretext of an Icelander murdered in Greenland [13]. Although the petition went unanswered, it boded ill for relations between the two islands.

Ilinu and Utameknisat

Norse interaction dramatically changed the Amerindians they interacted with, and the Leivslander Innu, conventionally termed the Ilinu, were perhaps the most dramatic of these. This culture originated on the mainland but migrated to Leivsland in the 10th century, first absorbing remnant Paleo-Thuleans of the Kinngait Culture before conquering the other native group of the island, conventionally termed the Red Skraelings for their characteristic use of red ochre.

As the Kinngait Culture and Red Skraelings lacked livestock, agriculture, or advanced tools and numbered no more than 1,200, they were quickly defeated by the Innu with the last survivors wiped out by the end of the 12th century, leaving the Innu in control of Leivsland [14]. The Ilinu population rapidly increased as they maintained fields of river turnip, bistort, and sweetvetch and converted much of the land into pasture for their reindeer and towey goats. By 1300, it reached an equilibrium of almost 30,000 people, mostly concentrated in the river valleys.

The Ilinu were fiercely territorial of their land and violently repelled Norse settlement efforts in the 11th and 12th centuries, believing outsiders sought to deprive them of their home. Traditional law held no outsider might spend more than four days on the shores of Leivsland nor lose sight of the coast, with the exception of those married to an Ilinu woman and accepted by her male relatives. This law did not deter Greenlandic traders from sailing there hoping to make money off of trade with the Ilinu, who desired their tools, blankets, beads, and iron weapons. Straumfjord, the former site of the Norse colony, grew into the largest town on the island with a population of about 800.

Norse traders readily found brides in Straumfjord thanks to their wealth and the Ilinu coveting Norse goods. Families who lacked herds sent their daughters to Straumfjord in hopes of marrying these men, although often they were disappointed for rarely did more than a dozen Norsemen operate in the area at any given time. These men were the ancestors of the ethnic group later called the Utameknisat ("sons of the hammer", referring to their association with iron and craftsmanship), a Metis people who played a pivotal role in the region in later times.

Even in the late 13th century when the Utameknisat numbered only a few hundred, they already played a important role in local trade networks as merchants and sailors. They introduced Norse technology such as harpoons which combined with their sailing skills resulted in the introduction of whaling to the region, bringing a valuable source of meat, bone, and oil. Other Utameknisat ventured as far inland as the Kanada or as far south as Cape Cod as middlemen for Norse goods. Aside from Straumfjord, other Utameknisat communities lay on Natikyst, Ministikyst, and Sanutsimøen, the latter becoming a notable producer of salt by 1300 [15].

In contrast to later times, the early Utameknisat were more Norse. They practiced Christianity as opposed to the syncretic religion of the Salmon Clan (whom they considered kin due to their common ancestry) and are recorded to speak the Norse-Innu trade language as opposed to their unique dialect of Ilinu. However, some Norse traditions survived far longer, like elements of their governance such as chiefdoms called kwoti that could be bought and sold or writing in runes. They often used Norse or Christian names, although occasionally innovated unique names found among no other culture based on calques of native names or peculiarities in their religion--true to their matrilineal culture inherited from their Ilinu mothers, the Utameknisat almost universally used matronymics instead of the Norse patronymics [16].

They contributed greatly to the small "Leivian exchange. [17]" Some Utameknisat herded sheep they inherited from their Norse fathers who voluntarily exiled to offshore islands so their sheep would not harm reindeer populations with the diseases they carried. This started a custom among those few peoples such as the Havnaki and Migmak who also herded sheep, as they would tend their flocks on offshore islands or especially on islands in lakes. Sheep were never widespread because reindeer were culturally preferred, but their wool made a valuable good. They were most prominent among the animals the Salmon Clans herded, no doubt because of their syncretic Christianity.

Other livestock never established themselves. Chickens were viewed as redundant when many in Eastern North America raised ducks or even geese, so were only found among the Ilinu, Utameknisat, and Markland Innu. Goats brought from Greenland were viewed similarly when compared to sheep and towey goats and totally died out by 1400. Pigs were rare in Greenland so never gained a foothold outside of feral populations in Markland that were prevented from spreading far by the mountains, harsh climate, and frequent hunting. Horses were also rare--although occasionally sold to native leaders, there was never enough stock for a breeding population and therefore they often ended up sacrificial offerings.

More valuable were the cats owned by the Utameknisat. While many the Christian Norse shared the common negative attitude toward cats found in medieval Europe, they still brought their cats to Greenland and Markland and from there to their sons and daughters among the Utameknisat. These were large cats--adult males weighed up to 8 kilos and could be almost 1 meter long (including their tail)--and their cold-adapted bulky bodies and thick coats made them look even larger. Their tame nature compared to wild bobcats fascinated Amerindians, and the Utameknisat often sold these cats. Uniquely, many cats were polydactyl, to the point the modern breed of Leivsland cats is entirely so. Among some groups they were skinned for their pelts or eaten for their meat, yet often they were associated with shamans or agriculture due to their unique nature and tendency to hunt rodents and other small pests.

Norse dogs also spread, but these found less appeal. Although traded as exotic dog breeds, their small number left little mark on the domestic dog populations of the region, although the Markland Sheephound, a medium-sized spitz-type breed, was bred by Utameknisat sheep herders. They were common on the offshore islands in the Gulf of Kanada.

Among crops brought by the Leivian exchange, only barley proved popular, as Norse agriculture in Markland was sparse at best and redundant compared to the Arctic-adapted agriculture of the Eastern Woodlands. The Utameknisat brewed ale from it which became a regionally popular drink. The Ilinu and Utameknisat drank it nearly as much as the Norse at all occasions, while among the Havnaki and Migmak it was the second most important ceremonial drink after maple mead.

The Utameknisat were literate and wrote their language in runes, but writing was rare. Runes mared ownership, passed secret messages (often against hostile non-literate enemies), and above all, recorded religious traditions. These include oral stories that are a mix of Innu mythology, Norse folklore, and Biblical passages. The Utameknisat kept these writings private and regarded them as sacred treasures to be known only by community leaders. As a result, only the elite of their society were socially permitted to read, restricting what they might record, a tradition that appeared among the Ilinu as well and spread to other Algonquian societies [18].

Most crucially, a blacksmithing tradition appeared as the Utameknisat began turning the bog iron of Vinland into rough but functional iron goods. At the same time, some Utameknisat married Norse women from Venarfjord who settled on the island and introduced Norse-style warp-weighted looms and weaving, more efficient technology than native looms. These two events involving just a few individuals would revolutionise the entire regional economy and severely endanger the Greenlander position in the Americas.
Greenlander Decline in the Americas

If anything brought down this Norse colonial system in the North Atlantic, it was its own success. Their trade network relied heavily on their monopoly over textiles and iron goods for which natives were always eager to trade for. Yet once the Utameknisat broke this monopoly by making Leivsland a new center of iron and textile production, decline set in. Norse goods no longer fetched the high prices they did before, and worse, the Norse now had competitors who far better understood the nuances of trade in Amerindian societies.

The southerly migration of the Thule Inuit in Greenland likewise doomed the system. By 1250, the seasonal Norse trading post at Bjørneøen began purchasing oxwool in exchange for locally mined iron, fabrics, and Norse beads. By 1300, the Greenlandic Inuit had migrated far enough south to seasonally trade with the Norse of the Western Settlement. Naturally, the lack of a lengthy and potentially dangerous sea journey greatly appealed to the Norse who eagerly accepted the chance to locally obtain oxwool.

The impact of this was drastic for the Norse in Venarfjord and Helleland. In the latter, the Norse trading post fell abandoned 1300, no doubt as the voyage was viewed as too risky. In Venarfjord, the Norse purchased less and less oxwool, breaking generations-old trading links that no doubt caused confusion among the natives. Fewer ships arrived from Greenland, down to only 2 ships by 1300. Woodcutting, the secondary industry of Venarfjord, resumed its former importance as the dominant economic activity.

A secondary factor likewise damaged the Norse trade--epidemic disease. In the early 13th century, Norse-introduced chickenpox, measles, and whooping cough killed at least 10% of the population of eastern North America, sparked wars and famine, and kept populations declining throughout that century. A fourth disease, seal influenza, spread from Fusania in the late 13th century with similar effect. Smaller populations demanded fewer goods and demanded goods with military value such as tomahawks and especially swords, recognised by natives as weapons of the elite. As the Norse were always more loathe to part with these goods for fear they'd be turned against them, this further crippled trade.

The decimation of tribes due to disease led to new tribal migrations which led to war with those who already lived in the area. Unlike the local muskox herders for whom reindeer herding was secondary, these newcomers were primarily reindeer herders, and like all reindeer herders, they strictly controlled muskox herding lest the deadly diseases carried by muskox decimate their herds.

These natives viewed the Norse as allies of those they sought to displace, sparking destructive wars and murders of Norse woodcutters and merchants that reduced the amount of muskox pelts for trade. Further, the Norse refusal to trade weapons to their allies gave them a reputation as stingy, leading to sporadic conflict even there.

This same factor occurred in Greenland. The initial wave of Thule culture migrants fragmented into two tribes based on their stance toward the Norse. The pro-Norse Thule group abandoned reindeer herding entirely, concentrating only on muskox for the sake of Norse trade, while the remaining tribes abandoned muskox. Neither group acquiesced to the Norse hunting in their land, which made relations between all three peoples difficult at best and shifting depending on political circumstances.

Politics in Iceland similarly affected Greenland. As climate change stopped much of the Greenland-Iceland trade, the Icelanders began to send expeditions directly with Markland. Most of these were timber cutting expeditions, although some traded with Venarfjord directly. Semi-permanent Icelander camps even appeared. The Icelanders were not well-liked by the Inuit (whom they held no pre-existing relation with), nor the Marklanders of Venarfjord for their supposed stinginess.

As the chief of Venarfjord set the price of goods in Markland, he was a hated figure among the Icelanders for charging exhorbitant prices for oxwool and timber. In 1293, an Icelandic merchant assassinated the elderly chief of Venarfjord, Pall Audunsson, leading the Greenlandic Althing to ban Icelanders from Markland. This decree was often ignored, including by some Marklandic trading posts, yet when enforced it was met with violence and feuding. This was the beginning of what some historians term the Marklander Wars, memorialised in sagas written in Greenland and Iceland, a lengthy period of feuding between Greenlanders and Icelanders.

All of this brought about the collapse of the Norse trading empire in the New World. The first region to suffer Norse abandonment was the Gulf of Kanada as well as those further east such as the Migmak and Havnaki. Trade with those peoples was abandoned by 1285 after a particularly severe epidemic depopulated their villages. The one ship every year or so that ventured this far south stopped coming, with the Ilinu and Utameknisat taking up the trade instead.

Norse trading posts in Markland followed. Of the four that existed, each faced a serious decline in Norse activity. They became almost exclusively used for timber cutting, with timber shipped directly to Greenland or Iceland. Icelanders took over one trading post in 1295 following the murder of the Greenlander captain heading the expedition, but in 1300 the Innu burnt the post and massacred 16 Icelanders.

Venarfjord itself faced difficulties thanks to the decreasing local supply of timber. Even in the Medieval Warm Period, it was fairly close to the tree line in Markland, yet as the climate cooled severe blizzards increased, killed many mature trees, and stunted the growth of new trees. Further, the population of the entire area numbered over 1,000 year-round and over 2,000 seasonally when accounting for both Norse and Skraeling, a number maintained for over 150 years. This population had consumed a massive amount of wood for tools, firewood, repair, and export, rendering the area bereft of trees. This forced the population to travel further and further to get wood, rendering them vulnerable to opportunistic murder or capture from roaming enemies or wild animals.

Far to the north, the Norse trade in Helleland survived somewhat longer, but epidemics and the cooling climate forced an end to regular Norse visits by 1300 (although sporadic visits occurred as late as 1350). Although once famed by the Norse for how cheaply the Skraelings sold oxwool, even this wasn't enough, for an increase in storms and sea ice ensured the Norse could not even reach the island.

The end result of this was the consolidation of the oxwool trade in Greenland, a factor that reinvigorated the Norse in that region. The Western Settlement in particular benefitted, stopping a decline that had begun in the mid-13th century, yet even the Middle Settlement benefitted. As Greenland's other major good, walrus ivory, declined from an increase in the elephant ivory trade from Africa and Asia, oxwool became practically the sole export.

Even Greenland's dominance of the oxwool trade good not halt their difficulties. The cooling climate and expanding glaciers ruined farms on the fringes, while Inuit raids prompted a further consolidation. Farmsteads became increasingly fortified, especially around the Western Settlement's capital Sandnes. Herjolfsnes was not given to listening to complaints from this region and often carried out their own Inuit policy independent of what the local chiefs in the Western Settlement desired. Beset with enemies from within and without, Greenland was to face repeated disaster in the centuries to come.

Author's notes

This chapter primarily covers Greenland and Iceland, with a brief glimpse into Europe TTL. Aside from a few ATL Norse (I guess the result of butterflies caused by the difference in the Vinland expeditions of Leif and Thorfinn and the oxwool isssue) figures, I'm keeping the Old World mostly OTL for now. Things are still mostly unchanged since Iceland being a bit richer isn't going to much affect Norwegian policy. I've provided a lot of context on the functioning of Greenlandic and Icelandic society which is all OTL--they were very unique for medieval Europe and indeed closer to how many eastern Amerindian societies functioned both OTL and TTL.

The Icelandic and Greenlandic characters are a mix of historical and fictional characters. I should note that Þórðr kakali died in Norway before he could return to Iceland on behalf of the king, but he seems to have stood a chance of bringing Iceland under Norway's rule so I have him living another decade. His brother Tumi was killed in the 1240s, but he survives TTL. His son Sighvat is historic as well. A wealthier Iceland, combined with a competent heir (OTL it seems Gissur jarl, who is killed with his sons TTL, had no real heir), makes the position of Icelandic Jarl survive TTL. In Greenland it does not, perhaps because of Greenland's insignificance even with the oxwool trade.

This chapter comes out right before Christmas and the start of winter and covers suitably northern and cold lands. Or perhaps not so cold since as I post this, much of North America as far south as Florida is colder than Greenland. Have a happy holidays and New Year, since the next entry (or map) won't be out before then. This entry is the last of those covering the rest of North America outside of Fusania, so the next entry will return to Fusania, specifically the Ringitsu in the late 13th century and their continued exploration. Thank you for reading!

[1] - Ölurskraeling is the Norse term for the Innu and other Algonquian speakers
[2] - Chiefs often served as priests in Iceland, much to the consternation of the Norwegian church. A few even became bishops, although as time went on this became increasingly outrageous to the Archbishop of Nidaros. Priests committing simony and other crimes like fathering illegitimate children or being married was extremely common in Iceland and Greenland. Yet because of the reform of the church in Norway, Magnus Ulfsson (same man as the boy in Chapter 61, now obviously well-matured) will face an uphill battle to gain Greenland's episcopate.
[3] - No matter the truth of the supposed founder of Norway Harald Fairhair, his conquests, and his rule (all of which are shrouded in legend), it's clear the Icelanders came to view him as a tyrant figure by the 13th century
[4] - Like in Iceland, in Greenland there were a set number of chiefdoms which were not based on geography (outside of the ability of the goði who held it to attract followers to his seat). One chief relocating to Markland thus reduces the number of chiefs in Greenland, since there doesn't seem to have been a mechanism for creating new chiefdoms (which was a weakness in the system)
[5] - Sandnes was the largest farm of the Western Settlement and was noted in Norse times for its port having a longer sailing season. However, it was further away from Iceland and Norway than Herjolfsnes, Hvalsey, or other ports of call in the south.
[6] - "Sauðnaut" ("sheep-cattle") is the modern day Icelandic term and an obvious calque of the muskox's scientific name "ovibos", but had the Norse really exploited muskox to the degree they do TTL it seems like a logical name. "Sannolt" seems like one potential modern English spelling
[7] - Naskappenfjord is Groswater Bay/Lake Melville, a very long fjord in Labrador
[8] - Grenholt is Rigolet, NL. Both Viga-Haukr and his ally Magnus are historical figures named in the Sturlung saga as convicts who fled to Greenland. I edited a previous chapter to add a reference to Magnus Markusson earlier ITTL as it fit better.
[9] - Sometimes left untranslated as "landnám", referring to the manner by which the Norse divided up the free land in Iceland and Greenland
[10] - Bjørneøen ("Bear Island") is the modern form of the name likely given to Disko Island in Greenland by the Norse, who did indeed have a trading post there. Nordsetr is an actual term, but expeditions to Markland seem to have been rare enough (unlike the seasonal expeditions to Disko Island) that the Norse never used a contrasting term
[11] - It was not true feudalism where peasants or even tenant farmers were tied to their land, but effectively all tenant farmers were required to work the fields of a landowner and follow his choice of chief since early in Iceland's history, and this system survived for centuries even after Norway and then Denmark took over the island. Thus, urbanisation will be limited at best.
[12] - Part of the failure of Greenland OTL was no doubt its failure to maintain communication with Iceland, but this was logical given the lack of good shipbuilding material and the fact that sailing to Iceland was not particularly shorter and rather more dangerous due to ice floes than sailing to Bergen. Worse, there weren't really many goods in Iceland worth trading for. TTL somewhat mitigates that, but the danger factor is still present.
[13] - I believe this would be possible under medieval Scandinavian law. A lot of Greenland seems to have had an independent parliament (unnamed IIRC, but highly likely it was also called the Althing as in Iceland) and its own bishop which seems to be because connections with Iceland were sporadic at best. Not the case TTL (and especially not with Markland, whose status is unclear) so I believe Iceland (which remains under a local jarl TTL much like Orkney) could plausibly try and include Greenland as a vassal
[14] - These would be the Beothuk, who had a distinct use of red ochre body paint compared to other groups. The Kinngait culture are the Dorset, who had an offshoot present on Newfoundland at one point
[15] - This was occasionally found in Norse culture, but is common among some matrilineal societies like those found in India. As the majority of East Coast natives, including the Innu/Ilinu, are matrilineal, it seems logical that this hybrid culture would adopt this naming practice
[16] - Natikyst is Anticosti Island, Ministikyst is St. Pierre, and Sanutsimøen is the Magdalen Islands, all island groups in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
[17] - The Leivian exchange is so named for Leif Eriksson. These animals would most closely resemble modern Icelandic landraces of sheep, dogs, chickens, cats, etc., although the cats are also partially based on the Maine Coon (the polydactyl nature) and Norwegian forest cat. A small founding stock and the natural conditions of that corner of North America would probably mean the cats would evolve to look like one of those two modern breeds.
[18] - A similar system is found among the Ojibwe and Mi'kmaq OTL and appears to derive from petroglyphs and was used for mnemonic purposes. Most of the information recorded is sacred knowledge and is thus restricted in use and knowledge. While the writing are pre-Columbian in origin, it's unclear to what degree missionary writing influenced their evolution
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Helleland, ending that region as an independent source of oxwool
Remind me, where/what is Helleland?

Also: is Ilinu the TTL or OTL name? I can't really find anything on them.

The update is fascinating, how a small thing (some exiles finding muskox wool) balloons into a LOT of changes...
Very impressive work, the character voices feel sincere and the setting viscerally real and lived in.
Can only agree, slowly all the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. We are starting to get the whole picture of North America and I absolutely love it. Can't wait for the Norse America chapter!
Thank you so much. I hope it lived up to your expectations.
Remind me, where/what is Helleland?

Also: is Ilinu the TTL or OTL name? I can't really find anything on them.

The update is fascinating, how a small thing (some exiles finding muskox wool) balloons into a LOT of changes...
At one point I decided to consistently use modern Norwegian spelling for Vinland/New World-related place names, so Old Norse Helluland (which was very likely Baffin Island) becomes Helleland. I notice I did not adhere to that in this entry since there's Icelandic and Old Norse mixed in.

Ilinu is an ATL name for an ATL Innu group that establishes itself on Newfoundland. In Cree languages (TTL I've termed all speakers of Cree-Innu-Naskapi as simply "Innu" but make it clear there's a number of different tribes, it's akin to my use of "Dena" for Northern Athabaskans), it is a plausible derivation of the word meaning "person" (apparently *elenyiwa, it seems related to whatever Algonquian word gave rise to the term "Illinois" or "Illiniwek") which became "Innu" OTL. TTL their ancestors on the opposite shore in Labrador/Northern Quebec had much superior technology (some metalworking and agriculture plus domesticated reindeer) and numbers to the Beothuk and whatever Dorset (TTL Kinngait) people survived on Newfoundland and took the island for themselves.
Very impressive work, the character voices feel sincere and the setting viscerally real and lived in.
Will the bubonic plague be transmitted to Leivsland? Would it go as far as the rats/fleas could take it or burn out early?
That's an interesting question, since there is some evidence it may have reached Greenland around the same time it did Iceland in the first decade of the 15th century, but that may have been another disease or it may have not reached Greenland at all. More commerce with Greenland instead of the occasional knarr (the two ships a year guarantee from the King of Norway is OTL, but Greenland was lucky to receive one knarr a year) increases the risks, obviously.

I've also realised this same question occurs with typhus, one form of which spreads similarly, but I've decided that if it ever did, it wouldn't have spread far. I can't imagine a ship as small as a knarr would be a good vector for rats, so the few rats who'd make it to Markland (or even further) would not be spreading typhus, plague, or other diseases. At least probably not.


Gone Fishin'
I can't imagine a ship as small as a knarr would be a good vector for rats, so the few rats who'd make it to Markland (or even further) would not be spreading typhus, plague, or other diseases. At least probably not.
That makes sense, there's more ships than OTL but they're not very spacious. But if it did get as far as Greenland OTL...

Maybe-- and I'm not expecting an immediate answer to this, I don't know anything about it-- if a large rat population already lived in North America, making it over in small groups over many voyages and then procreating, then a few rats with plague could quickly spread it to the rest? I guess they're a pest (they probably eat crops) and the Ilinu might be trapping and killing them, same as the feral pigs.
Chapter 88-Chasing the South Wind
"Chasing the South Wind"

Off Cape Ropakka, 1280​

Yoqt'aawu cursed his miserable luck. By this time, he should be nearly home, his ship full of timber, ivory, and iron as his crew dined on freshly dried salmon and all the foods of the land. Yet thanks to what the relatives of the mangy man he bounded to the ship did, he was left with nothing but diminishing provisions and an increasingly hungry crew. Worst of all, the winds kept blowing him south, driving him further and further from home.

He took out a lump wrapped in seaweed, the typical sailor's food, and motioned to an oarsmen to pass him some seal oil. After pouring the oil on it, Yoqt'aawu bit into it. The consistency was the worst, at once dry yet with lingering remnants of its past life as whale skin and blubber punctuated with all the dried berries inside. It would keep him alive, but was nothing his crew wanted to eat. For all they knew, they'd never eat anything else again.

"Lawukhwaaq, where are we? What does the sunstone say!?" he shouted to his navigator.

"It's hopeless! The clouds are too dark, we'll never see the sun through there," the youth replied back.

"Do it anyway, dammit!" Yoqt'aawu gestured toward the bentwood box Lawukhwaaq used as a seat. He's completely useless, riding on nothing but being an heir to the famed Aankaanchi of all people. No wonder his house are nobles in name only.

The man did as he was told, grabbing a dull green stone from the box and holding it up to the sky. He winced as droplets of rain leaked into his eye, but remained alert as he peered all around the sky looking for anything. At last he found something right over Yoqt'aawu's shoulder and after some time carved a mark on a wooden board with a rusty knife.

"We're incredibly far south," he informed. "Further south than anywhere in the Manjimas even." Crewmen who overheard him shook their heads in despair.

"Unbelievable..." Yoqt'aawu sighed. "And we've been blow out to sea at that by these frigid winds." Options faded view as he weighed his next move. It would take days to sail north to any Tanban village he knew of and by that time they'd be out of food, assuming the storm didn't get worse. And would the Tanban even help them? Some Tanban would simply kill him, others would rob him of everything he had and he'd return home a poor, broke man.

"What should we do now, captain?" Lawukhwaaq asked. "We could always throw him overboard as an offering. If the Land Otters take him, they might leave us alone for a while," he said, pointed at the mangy Tanban man they abducted.

"Don't even mention their kind here!" Yoqt'aawu said, throwing the uneaten half of his rations overboard to distract the Land Otters. "Let me think for a minute."

As the wind gusted against him, he weighed Lawukhwaaq's words. Land otters live on both sea and land...land, heh, we lack other options.

"Keep sailing southeast, let's ride the wind to the coast," he ordered, gesturing wildly to his crew. They looked at each other with tired, despaired glances.

"Captain, is there even land there? No one has sailed this far south before," Lawukhwaaq cautioned.

"Of course there is! If we're south of the Manjimas, then we'd be finding all sorts of land had we set out from Old Ringitania."

The crew kept rowing and rowing, and sure enough the rocky coast of Sheiyiiq'aani returned to view. Yet it looked distinctly forboding. Despite being so far south, the land looked barren and desolate, with not a single tall tree anywhere in site. Yoqt'aawu sighed--this miserable coast would have to do for now. Finding a sheltered beach, he and his crew left their sturdy ship and hauled it out of the water, preparing to establish a campsite on land before the sunset.

The next day, the weather completely cleared, with not a single hint of fog or clouds. He grabbed his cloak and climbed through thickets of vegetation on a nearby hill to get a better view of the land that sheltered him that night.

What he saw stunned him beyond belief. He discovered their camp was located on a narrow spit of land, surrounded by ocean on all sides but the north. In the distance, he saw a large island rising out of the mist and to his surprise, what looked like a campfire.

"No option but to trade with whatever Tanban live there," Yoqt'aawu muttered to himself.

Shumushu Island, 1280​

"Repunkur, Repunkur!" the old man screamed. Kapkaram ran out of his tent, knife drawn, to investigate. Sure enough, the old man pointed in terror at an approaching ship.

"That's not a Repunkur ship, old man," Kapkaram replied. "That's...I've never seen anything like it." He ran back inside the triangular hut made of reeds to grab his bow and arrow he hoped he'd never have to use.

As the ship approached, Kapkaram squinted at it. It looked closer to the largest itaomacip, rather than anything he ever heard the Repunkur sailed in, let alone the kayaks paddled by the villagers who lived on that peninsula to the north. Yet the colours and patterns on the bow looked otherworldly. In straight lines punctuated by swirls was outlined a grim depiction of what looked like a shark or an orca. A similar creature appeared on the sail.

Kapkaram heard of rumours of people who owned ships like this. Perhaps it was the people far to the south, the same men who made his uncle's fine sword. Just what was he about to encounter.

After the old man put out the campfire, the two crouched in the bushes as the ship landed at a beach. At least a dozen people stepped out and beached the ship, proceding to head right toward them. Kapkaram shook his head--they must have seen the campfire they cooked their breakfast on and were here to investigate.

As they neared, Kapkaram noticed how alien they looked. Their skin was as tan as those men from further north. The ones who bared their hands had tattoos on them like a woman might and the rings in their noses and ears gleamed in the sun. All seemed armed--no doubt men hid their hands in their cloaks to avoid revealing their knives and daggers, while a few carried sealing spears and clubs. The man at the front, their leader no doubt by its size and the number of metal plates attached to it, carried a large mace with a shining head that right now he used as a walking stick.

"Run, boy, run and warn the village! I'll stay here and head them off," the old man said. He raised his bow, ready to shoot, but Kapkaram shook his head and grabbed his arm.

"We'll face them together. If we ambush them, they won't know what hit them. Don't worry, I'll carry you on my back if I have to." Kapkaram hated the idea of his father-in-law's brother dying alone in such a place.

Suddenly, the leader's associate pointed at Kapkaram and all men turned toward them, grasping their weapons for battle. The leader shouted something in an unintelligible and harsh language. Kapkaram drew back on his bowstring until the old man of all people stopped him.

"Oh, I know what they're saying. They are northern men, not here to fight at all. Let's trust them for now."

Kapkaram and the old man stood up, bows pointed at the ground as they stared down the foreigners. He had only seen the men from the northern mainland a few times, but these men looked and dressed nothing like them.

"They're asking us if we have food," the old man said. "They are lost."

The leader of the man took out a bronze knife from his cloak and handed it in offering.

"They seem wealthy enough," Kapkaram said. "Should we bring them to the village?"

"If they aren't Repunkur, perhaps they are friends. Let us bring them back there and see what they have for us."

Mairup, 1280​

"These are strange people," Lawukhwaaq said over the noise of the feast. Yoqt'aawu could only agree. They were not Tanban, Tangitsu, or any other group of people he had ever heard of. Their men had completely unblemished skin, lacking any piercing besides their earrings. Many of them had incredible beards and thick builds, looking unlike any human Yoqt'aawu had ever seen. The ones lacking that seemed to be slaves or lower class individuals of some sort, perhaps people they conquered in battle--he saw at least one Tanban slave, proving his point. Their women looked even stranger--from the glimpses he caught, every single one of them had dramatic tattoos around their mouths.

Their knives purchased the necessary food and supplies. Much of it was typical fare--preserved salmon, seal meat, and other meats. The feast was delicious, even if the locals kept the brains of the birds and animals for themselves and the milky, foul-smelling liquid that got their men drunk too odd to dare drink.

The next day, Yoqt'aawu saw their gardens, yet the plants they grew totally different than any he had ever seen. They grew an assortment of very tall grasses, akin to the sheaves of water amaranth some Ringitsu villagers maintained, but these plants grew on dry land. Seeing a man who looked like his family owned the plot, Yoqt'aawu pointed at it, gesturing a picking motion. The man looked at him quizzically before picking a sprig of the grass that Yoqt'aawu inspected carefully before concealing it in his pocket.

Handing the man a fang-shaped dentalium shell in thanks, he caught up with his navigator Lawukhwaaq, talking with the same old man from the village they saw the previous day. The old man seemed obsessed over the oxwool pelt and handed him a real treasure--his quiver full of arrows with heads made of iron. As Lawukhwaaq thanked the man, Yoqt'aawu gazed in awe at what he found as the two men walked back to their ship.

"Iron arrowheads? Just how wealthy are these people?" Yoqt'aawu never even heard of such a thing, assuming it to be the stuff of exaggerated stories and legends of men so wealthy they might use such a rare substance the way one used stone. Lawukhwaaq held up an arrow, twirling it around in awe.

"I have no idea. It's not even a large village and the land is miserable, but they own so much iron and bronze. You collected much yourself, I heard."

Yoqt'aawu held up three pairs of earrings with shiny metallic beads on them, clearly iron.

"The Tanban slave fetched this much. I'd be lucky to get a few ducks or a reindeer calf had I sold him to his own people. Just what is this place?"

"They call it Mairup in that strange and smooth tongue they speak," Lawukhwaaq answered. "I don't know what it means, but it's fortunate a few of them speak Tanban, lest we be out of luck."

"We should thank the Tanban for it. If not for the rude greeting that man's kin gave me, we'd have hauled back only the usual."

"Precisely. Every spirits worked upon the world in our favour and brought about this meeting."

At their ship, the crew checked the hull for any damage or leaks as they warmed themselves up for another day of rowing. The sea looked fairly placid, and Yoqt'aawu hoped it might remain so until they reached their home village.

In the ship lay the treasure of trade, stuffed into every compartment possible and even sitting in empty nooks near the oarsmen. Much of it was food for the voyage--they'd eat like the grandest of house chiefs on their voyage home. So laden was their ship that Yoqt'aawu was almost thankful these people didn't have even more iron. Bags full of silvery beads, knives, axes, and even arrowheads were everywhere amidst a few larger items like braziers and iron pots and utensils. A few other odd goods such as bundles of incredibly soft clothing, supposedly from a land far south and east of here, sat alongside them. A few strange animals he heard were called meko that resembled lynx kittens poked around at the bags of food.

"I say we made a good haul here," Yoqt'aawu announced to the crew with pride. "Shall we return to this place soon! There must be more villages like this!"

The crew raised their fists in affirmation. Once they made that trip home, they would become wealthy men indeed. In these lands so far south, a brighter future had opened before them.


Like the Norse at the fringe of Europe, at the fringe of North America the Ringitsu set out to new lands to discover new opportunities for trade in their ever competitive society. From their ancestral lands in the islands of Old Ringitania, the Ringitsu expanded westwards along the coast and islands since the 9th century. A great trading network assembled in their wake populated by many feuding houses out to gain advantages for their kin at any cost. By the 13th century, they reached the shores of Asia, a land they called Diyaanakhaani, the "Land of the Other Side."

For a variety of reasons, the 13th century was the golden age of the Ringitsu. Beneficial climate produced large agricultural yields, while their technology and culture advanced further and further. In their travels, the Ringitsu discovered rare materials such as tin and platinum that fueled their increasingly far-flung trading networks. Challenges to Ringitsu hegemony such as timber shortages were overcome with increasingly sophisticated ship designs and importation of wood. In particular, the Ringitsu whalers, walrus hunters, and tin miners in the near-treeless islands and coast in the Sea of Ringitania demanded great quantities of wood.

The discovery of Diyaanakhaani, the southern portion of the land Sheiyiiq'aani--called in later times the Hidaka Peninsula--solved these problems. With its vast quantities of timber, sable pelts, rare birds and animals, and iron goods--of Japanese manufacture--owned by its natives, it was a keystone in the Ringitsu trade network. Much as Markland and Venarfjord were for the Norse, Sheiyiiq'aani was essential for the functioning of the most remote Ringitsu colonies. Sable and iron were rare goods found nowhere else, while the timber kept the Ringitsu lifestyle viable in the mostly treeless shores and islands of the Sea of Ringitania.

Second to only timber, iron was the most valuable good in Sheiyiiq'aani, and possessing iron goods brought one far. Most of these goods came in the form of beads or common household goods. The latter were used in wealthier households, but the most valuable form came in reshaping the iron for tools. Through heating in a fire, the Ringitsu softened the iron into a form suitable for reshaping into knives, spearheads, axes, and adzes. Even iron beads just as often found new life embedded as teeth in saws as they were used for ornamentation.

The region was widely known in the Ringitsu world for what it exported and those who lived there, but to most Ringitsu, it was considered a distant, paradaisical place despite being so close to the land of the dead. Iron goods from Sheiyiiq'aani were widely exported and used as status symbols, although ironically most were of low quality, inferior to bronze, and prone to rust in Ringitania's wet climate. It was famous for its salmon runs, believed to be the greatest in the world [1] and particularly for the cherry salmon. Native only to the Old World, the Ringitsu greatly valued cherry salmon when they discovered it. They exported it in dried form to other Ringitsu lands where it was said to be reserved only to nobles.

The cherry salmon were the privilege of nobles, leading to a particular sort of building adopted from the native Tanban around 1300. The nobles lived in towers with trademark pyramidal roofs (also adopted from Tanban construction) elevated by stilts 6 meters above the ground. If the noble could afford it, he hired a carver to create what is called "totem stilts", where the stilts served as prayers and invocations to elemental spirits for the protection of the house as well as those offering thanks to the salmon dried there. Commoners and slaves associated with that noble family surrounded it in dwellings barely elevated off the ground. A house chief's dwelling looked similar to a noble dwelling, but his stilts displayed the house's crest and other symbols he alone had the right to use.

The largest Ringitsu settlement in this region was Kiqhaiqh'akaan, established around 1223 by the explorer Khiatitkh. At the mouth of the Kikai River, this strategic post let the Ringitsu venture deep inland for trade with the native Tanban. In addition, other areas of the coast and inland were secured by the end of the 13th century--this land was called Qeiniyaa. The other center of Ringitsu settlement lay far to the north at Gunananuuw Island, a treeless island off the north coast of Sheiyiiq'aani. This land had been conquered by Khiatitkh's nephew Aankaanchi at great cost that led to the impoverishment of his house. Between the two, perhaps 2,500 Ringitsu total lived there in 1250, but by 1300 around 10,000 Ringitsu total lived in the area [2].

Because of Aankaanchi's impoverishment, Sheiyiiq'aani lacked a prestigious house to lead the local Ringitsu. Other Daakhaani Ringitsu houses such as the House of Khiatitkh on the Hiyatani Islands or even those in the Manjimas tried assuming power through potlatches, yet found themselves constantly competing against each other in occasionally violent contests. Attempts at uniting the Ringitsu via force or potlatch (as had been done in Kechaniya and elsewhere in the Ringitsu world) failed. The local Ringitsu and their Tanban allies vigorously rejected the authority of these external Ringitsu, preferring to pit them against each other [3].

The local houses, descendents of those poor nobles who traveled there as soldiers, sailors, hunters, and merchants, remained poor and unprestigious. They competed against each other strongly in potlatching, gambling, sports, and occasionally violent duels, but retained enough sense to prevent Sheiyiiq'aani from dissolving into chaos. They looked to Aankaanchi's descendents to lead them, yet with that house's lack of power, the ultimate authority lay within the house chiefs rather than a single elected ruler. By the early 14th century, this system crystalised into the establishment of a confederation centered at Kiqhaiqh'akaan historiographically called Qeiniyaa.

Qeiniyaa's social structure was unique among the Ringitsu. They were totally governed by a council of house chiefs without a single true leader, as had emerged everywhere else in Ringitania. The titles of Great Captain and Great Navigator, titles of leadership in the Manjimas, were greatly shifted. The Great Captain was merely the man the first among equals, with conducting the potlatch ceremony every year his only unique responsbility. This ceremony was in truth meant for the elite of the community rather than a symbol of his personal power, for the "tribute" he received was in actuality the leading houses competing to assemble the greatest stockpile of wealth. At the end of the year, the Great Captain conducted the ceremony and granted his title to the house which contributed the most money. Retired Great Captains served as Great Navigators who sat in a second "chamber" of Qeiniyaa's council.

Qeiniyaa functioned as a confederation--nearby Tanban villages were invited to participate in its affairs. Tanban rulers who accepted the authority of Qeiniyaa's Great Captain formed a third "chamber," which was responsible for foreign affairs, including the decision to go to war. In addition, it adjudicated disputes that involved Tanban individuals. Because Tanban tribes often benefitted from alliances with the Ringitsu, Qeiniyaa extended its rule, nominal as it often was, over dozens of Tanban villages and tens of thousands of square kilometers of land.

Increased social organisation likewise occurred among the Tanban. Because Ringitsu goods provoked jockeying for social status among Tanban elite, the Tanban moved their villages to fortified hill forts. The largest of these, centered around the wealthiest and most powerful chief, became the nucleus for larger towns. By 1350, the Tanban had coalesced into four tribal confederations, with the largest and most powerful located in the southeast of the Hidaka Peninsula centered around Subachi Bay [4]. Like Qeiniyaa, these Tanban proto-states also had rotating leadership and large councils, but their leaders came from only a select few families, usually those whose villages merged to form the confederation capital.

Houses sought to gain prestige at all costs, be it through war, alliances, whaling, religion, or wealth. Exploration proved an easy option for this, aided by the individualism of Sheiyiiq'aani's society. An enterprising captain might take a ship to wherever he pleased, as long as his crew believed something was in it for them. These explorers sought rare goods such as those East Asian goods made from iron and bronze. Others sought slaves for their household or animals not found elsewhere in the Ringitsu world such as the Stellar's sea eagle, the latter destined for the elite of Kechaniya. Exploration of Sheiyiiq'aani produced a rich volume of folklore and oral legend that often centered around dangerous encounters with savage Tangitsu, cheating the ignorant Tanban, or encounters with violent nature spirits.

A generation after the plagues struck Sheiyiiq'aani, these explorations picked up pace. The mountainous capes of the Hidaka Peninsula became common stopping places where Ringitsu villages formed, using isolation to protect against attack. The Ringitsu even crossed the narrow northern neck of the Peninsula around 1275 and reached the Chishima Sea, although its distance and lack of opportunities ensured it was never a focus. In addition, the Chishima Sea was often perceived as the legendary river of the dead--even being near it was deemed as bringing nothing but trouble [5].

Ringitsu trading and economic activities in the southern Hidaka Peninsula produced global ramifications. The Tanban traded their goods south to the Mishihase people, often in exchange for Japanese goods [6], a tradition continued by the Ringitsu and augmented by their goods. With their access to rare pelts, reindeer antlers, ivory, live polar bears and eagles (including bald eagles and golden eagles, not native to East Asia), gold, and silver, both Tanban and Ringitsu became quite wealthy.

Yet the Mishihase were a declining people. Harsh conditions on the Sea of Okhotsk depleted their numbers, and the increased wealth from trade was unable to make up for it. In fact, it likely invited their disaster--epidemic (perhaps smallpox or measles) tore through their homeland in the northern Chishima archipelago in the mid-13th century. Faced with famine and few in numbers, they made easy prey for the enterprising Ainu tribes who had been settling the islands from the south in search of new opportunities. By 1270, the Ainu reached Paramushiro, the northernmost large island in the Chishimas, where they absorbed the few surviving Mishihase. While the Mishihase still persisted on the northern coast of Ezo (later Hokkaido) and on Karafuto, the Ainu tribes were clearly ascendent in North Asia.

The strength of the Ainu came in their diversified economy. The Ainu farmed millet, buckwheat, and other crops, although their main livelihood lay in hunting. An Ainu village hunted all manner of animals, and from this they traded goods to other Ainu who lived as far south as northern Honshu. This trade gave them access to prestigious Japanese goods and imported food. In contrast, the Mishihase were primarily a coastal people reliant on coastal resources. As the climate cooled and storms increased, the Ainu increasingly pressed the Mishihase for land and resources.

In 1280, the Ringitsu explorer Yoqt'aawu, later called Lukakaanish, sailed south from his main base at the town of Tlanakshuyei at Cape Torinaka. He intended to trade with the large Tanban town of Aushin in Subachi Bay, as he had done before, but political rivalries within the town forced his expulsion. He continued sailing south, determined to make something of his expedition, yet found only small, poor Tanban villages due to prior conflicts with the Ringitsu and other Tanban. Eventually Yoqt'aawu sailed so far south he reached the end of the peninsula itself at a narrow, bitterly cold spit of land later called Cape Ropakka, called by the Ringitsu Lukakaan [7].

Likely his crew would have mutinied then and there had the weather not cleared and a distant island--Paramushiro--revealed itself. Wagering his life on the people there being rich, Lukakaanish sailed to this island where he found a small Ainu village named Mairup [8]. To his surprise, even this small village was rich in iron goods ranging from beads to fishhooks, all products of Japanese manufacture. The Ainu gladly accepted his cargo of gold, silver, and reindeer antlers, and Lukakaanish returned to Kiqhaiqh'akaan as a wealthy and powerful man, taking his new name from the place he discovered. He would serve as Great Captain of Qeiniyaa a record eleven times (more than anyone in history would afterwards) before his death in 1313.

News spread of these people rich in iron in the south, and despite the House of Lukakaanish's best attempts, other merchants discovered sea routes to the Chishima archipelago. Each Ringitsu house traded with a particular group of Chishima Ainu. While the Chishima Ainu rarely involved themselves in Ringitsu disputes, only threats from Kiqhaiqh'akaan's legislature limited inter-Ringitsu bloodshed in this region.

The Chishima Ainu themselves gladly adopted their role as middlemen. They intermarried with the Ringitsu and the wealthier Tanban and even bought permission to live alongside their communities. Individual Chishima Ainu likely visited as far north as Kiqhaiqh'akaan itself. Among other Ainu, the Chishima Ainu became known by 1300 for their wealth and propensity to travel long distances to purchase East Asian trade goods.

This led to much cultural borrowing between the Ringitsu and Chishima Ainu in what is called the Ringitic Exchange, one of the four Great Exchanges between Old World and New World. Agriculture lay at the forefront of this, for the Ringitsu adopted the two Ainu crops--buckwheat and millet--by 1300. As foreign grains, the food carried a certain prestige and was rapidly adopted not just in Sheiyiiq'aani, but the broader Ringitsu world as a whole.

Both crops were ideal for the Ringitsu--as grains, they were very easy to store for long periods of time compared to omodaka and river turnip (only water amaranth held that property among Ringitsu crops, yet buckwheat and millet were easier to grow and produced greater yields). Their growth seasons were regular and the crops tolerant of cool, damp environments with excess salinity. As they spread back into the main Ringitsu homeland, their ease of storage enhanced food surpluses, reducing the risk of famine and permitting the Ringitsu to raise more livestock. This kept Ringitsu society vibrant even as the climate cooled at the end of the 13th century. These crops would end up spreading much further beyond Ringitania in the decades to come.

The Chishima Ainu themselves took to agriculture during the 14th century. While they never built elaborate aquaculture systems, or even the rudimentary ones the Tanban did, Far Northwest vegetables like bistort and sweetvetch were commonly raised in their gardens, river turnip cultivated in low-lying areas, and riceroot grown alongside millet, buckwheat, and barley. While in this era other Ainu gradually abandoned agriculture in favor of hunting, gathering, and trading, the Chishima Ainu intensified cultivation.

The greatest innovation was the introduction of livestock. Wealthy Ainu occasionally acquired reindeer in trade, where they butchered them as meat or even milked them, but the animals were not found in Ainu lands outside Karafuto [9]. The Tanban adaption to reindeer herding along with the arrival of the reindeer-herding Ringitsu completely changed this. Finding a source of reindeer and skilled herdsmen to teach them, the Chishima Ainu took up reindeer herding.

Over time, this art gradually filtered into other Ainu groups and by 1350 resulted in the formation of a reindeer herd on Ezo. The Chishima Ainu would come to regard reindeer with nearly the importance afforded salmon. Their meat, milk, and cheese sustained life, while their antler velvet proved extremely valuable in trade, especially to the Japanese.

Of other livestock, few were introduced. Towey goats were practically unknown among the Daakaani Ringitsu who settled Sheiyiiq'aani, thus only their pelts were sold. Likewise, moose were incredibly rare exclusively owned by Ringitsu elite and almost never traded, but archaeologists have found remains of moose in the great port of Tosa in northernmost Honshu. Of other animals, only ducks found adoption as domesticates by the Chishima Ainu.

In a parallel to contemporary events in Europe, oxwool found great value among the Chishima Ainu. Traded in small amounts by the Ringitsu, it became the only fabric able to compete with valuable Chinese silk in Ainu culture. The Ainu used it to line robes and make hats and gloves. Those few Japanese fortunate enough to obtain it regarded it as making the finest mats and blankets, although those elite of northern Honshu with Emishi origins also made it into robes. This represents the first appearance of gibyu, an important motive in future Japanese exploration and trade in the north.

Although the Ainu knew of cattle, pigs, and especially horses (a valuable trade good of Dewa and Mutsu provinces in the far north of Honshu) and traded them periodically to the Tanban and Ringitsu for use as meat or as novelties, those animals never were widely adopted. Perhaps their diets and behaviors were too unusual, or the Ringitsu and Tanban preferred working with the animals they knew.

One animal was adopted however--the housecat. Perceived as a smaller, tamer version of the semi-domesticated lynx, the Ringitsu obtained housecats from the Ainu by the early 14th century [10]. The Ringitsu found their pelts too allergenic, but their ability to kill rodents useful while their meat was valued by shamans. Like in eastern North America, cats spread along the trade routes as novelties and rodent killers.

These were bobtailed cats, commonly longhaired. This original founding stock resulted in the dominance of bobtailed cats practically everywhere west of the American Divides and North of the Rio Bravo to the point cats with long tails, found among the Plains Indians and later European explorers, were regarded as aberrant by indigenous Fusanians to the point of being considered a separate animal [11].

Technologically, the Ringitsu gained a crucial innovation--the wheel. While wheels were known to the Ringitsu (as all Fusanian cultures), they existed as mere toys. Examples of Ainu carts (no doubt themselves purchased from the Japanese) reshaped Ringitsu perceptions on the wheel. The Ringitsu initially used wheels for handcarts used to more efficiently move heavy objects around when reindeer weren't available, yet as time passed, the potential of the wheel was unlocked.

Contact with the Ainu brought religious exchange as well. Each group traded (sometimes literally) stories and legends, some of which imprinted themselves on mythology. The practice of iyomante "bear cub" rituals among the Sheiyiiq'aani Ringitsu, along with their kin in the Manjimas and elsewhere in Far Ringitania, is the most conspicuous and famous borrowing from Ainu culture, although some argue it emerged from shared heritage with the Mishihase. Among the Ainu, particularly the Chishima Ainu, many legends about Onnepaskur-Kamuy, a raven god, originate from the Ringitsu.

All of this trade resulted in the formation of a great emporium at Cape Ropakka, a town known in Ringitsu as Ikhkeihaan ("town of the far south"). Despite the fierce climate prone to gales as well as a lack of fuel, the area supported a thriving settlement fed by imported goods from elsewhere in Sheiyiiq'aani. Whalers and reindeer herders based themselves there, forming a mixed culture of Ringitsu, Tanban, and Ainu.

Gold and silver goods proved popular trade goods among both Ainu and Mishihase. From earliest times, the Chishima Ainu gained a reputation for their gold and silver, perhaps from a particularly prestigious trader or chief. Further, their imported reindeer found favour among the Andou clan, who employed Ainu reindeer herders. Ringitsu records suggest by this means the Japanese first encountered Fusanian peoples.

The earliest known Ringitsu in Japan was Lawukhwaaq (an heir of the more famous Aankaanchi). According to his family's chronicle, Lawukhwaaq traveled south with his Ainu kin sometime in the early 14th century and worked as a reindeer herder. One day he was given an offer to present his livestock before the great lord of "Tosaan", clearly a reference to Tosa, the major port city of northern Honshu. There he and his kin worked for several months and acquired great wealth, including fabulous robes and a fine katana (typical gifts given by the Japanese to wealthy Ainu) before returning to Ikheihaan on Cape Ropakka. He claimed the name Aankaanchi from his kin at potlatch, but would gift the name to an unimportant nephew, taking a new name Yaayanasnak'eikh ("he who chases the south wind") as the name for his family, founding a powerful local house.

Regardless of his success, almost no direct trade occurred. The Ainu of Ezo demanded expensive goods for permission to settle among them, making even traveling to Ezo difficult. There was often an underlying hostility between Ezo Ainu and Ringitsu, perhaps out of mistakenly associating them with the seafaring Mishihase (whom the Ainu called repunkur, or "sea people"). The Ringitsu could only obtain a limited amount of wares of Japan and China, and the Chishima Ainu abundantly fulfilled this demand. It can thus be said that the Ringitsu world reached its limits at Cape Ropakka. While the northernmost islands of the Chishimas, especially Shumushu and Paramushiro, saw regular visits, few ships traveled to the southern Chishimas and even fewer to even the closest parts of Ezo, let alone areas further afield.

Most practically, the Chishima Ainu themselves likely prevented Ringitsu trade from expanding south. As the Chishima Ainu had access to the most preferred Ringitsu goods--gold, silver, and bronze knives and tools, reindeer, oxwool, and exotic birds and animals--they themselves monopolised trade with their Ezo kin, making it challenging for the Ringitsu to find a market.

This trade effected a great increase in wealth among the entirety of the Ainu, driving them north to Karafuto in greater and greater numbers so they might replicate that success. This expansion caused intensified conflicts with the Mishihase. As tributaries of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, the Mishihase already had enlisted Mongol aid in driving the Ainu back in 1264, yet the logistical difficulties of campaigning against semi-nomadic people in dense forest so far from civilisation posed a challenge.

While its unknown just how much the arrival of the Ringitsu shifted and strengthened northern trading networks, what is clear is that by the 1270s, they were increasingly coveted by the Mongol Empire, the most powerful state on the planet in that era. The late 13th century, beginning with the Mongol expeditions to Karafuto, would begin the process of the dramatic reshaping of Japan, North Asia, and eventually the entire New World. At long last, the Old and New World were coming together.

Author's notes

This is follow-up chapter to Chapter 65, covering the next phase of the Ringitsu in Kamchatka (TTL Sheiyiiq'aani/Hidaka). The distinct resources of this land, as well as their demand in the intermediate area (Bering Sea area) and even further afield breathes new life into their trade network, but it's still at the edge of its logistical tether. There are distinct parallels with the Norse and their relation between Norway-Iceland-Greenland-Markland/Vinland, but keep in mind both were similar tribal societies centered around lineage operating in similar environments.

At one point I planned on having Ringitsu ships sailing directly to Japan, but given the incredibly harsh and unpredictable seas and the fact the Ainu themselves already maintained one hell of a trade network, it felt like too much of a wank even for me. A few Ringitsu might poke around there, but it's not going to amount to much since the Ainu would bring most everything to the Ringitsu.

Medieval Ainu society was very different than the more well-known Ainu encountered in later centuries. They farmed, made pottery and iron tools, and raised pigs, including the Ezo Ainu (I'm using ). Ainu culture radically evolved in the direction it did because of centuries of economic colonisation where the hunter gatherer lifestyle made more and more sense. But it is the former Ainu which the Ringitsu encounter and the Japanese--and Mongols--will contend with.

I noticeably did not cover the Inuit, including those Inuit muskox herders who I've mentioned are pushing north along the Arctic Ocean's shores. I will cover them in a later chapter that will specifically detail the Little Ice Age in TTL's Alaska/northeast Siberia. I may or may not have some interesting plans for the Chukchi, Yukaghir, and others in that region. This era appears to be a time of upheaval for them OTL, and overall they haven't been too affected by the butterflies of TTL.

The next chapter or two will cover the Mongol Empire and their invasions of Japan and surrounding areas. At this point, the butterflies will truly flap in the Old World.

[1] - Up to 20% of all Pacific salmon originate from Kamchatka, and its among the few places on Earth where all six species of Pacific salmon live. As the cherry salmon is not found in North America, it would likely be a curiosity among people like the Ringitsu whose culture prizes salmon
[2] - Kiqhaiqh'akaan is Ust-Kamchatsk, the Kikai River is the Kamchatka River, and Gunananuuw is Karaginsky Island.
[3] - The Manjimas are the Aleutians, the Hiyatani Islands are the Commander Islands, and Kechaniya is Kodiak Island
[4] - The Hidaka Peninsula is the Kamchatka Peninsula (I use "Sheiyiiq'aani" to refer to exclusively the Ringitsu cultural realm there) and Subachi Bay is Avacha Bay (on which sits Petropavlovsk)
[5] - The Chishima Sea is the Sea of Okhotsk (OTL it never had a native Japanese name, so I am naming it for its most extensive archipelago)
[6] - As before, I'm using Mishihase as the term for the Okhotsk culture people
[7] - Cape Torinaka is Kronotsky Point in central Kamchatka, near Kronotsky Volcano and Aushin is at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. Cape Ropakka is Cape Lopatka (I've kept the name because it seems to be derived from Ainu)
[8] - I'm using the attested name "Mairup" (sometimes found as Mairuppo) for this place on Shumshu, although the changes TTL makes it established earlier than OTL. IOTL, it was later called Kataoka under Japanese rule and Baikovo in Soviet times before being abandoned.
[9] - Although reindeer are long extinct south of Sakhalin and Kamchatka, there are references to the historic Emishi, some groups of Ainu, and their descendents such as the Kamakura-era Andou clan of Tohoku keeping reindeer and even milking them. If true--and I'm going to assume TTL it is--they may have traded from Tungusic-speaking peoples like the Uilta.
[10] - Cats were known among the Ainu due to Japanese influence, and I'm assuming that at least some were bobtailed, as such a mutation is very common among Japanese cats. Technically this is NOT the OTL Kuril bobtail breed which only appeared after 1945 with the hybridisation of long-haired Russian cats (akin to the Siberian breed) with Japanese bobtails, but the conditions of the islands pretty much guarantee such a cat would appear
Dang, this was an impressive chapter, everything was well reasoned and felt so realistic and flowed so naturally, kudos!

I am loathed to ask, but have you considered a map to show the passage of these chapters?
Dang, this was an impressive chapter, everything was well reasoned and felt so realistic and flowed so naturally, kudos!

I am loathed to ask, but have you considered a map to show the passage of these chapters?
Maps are my weak point IMO since I always have trouble figuring out just how to portray the information. Right now I'm working on and off on a map for the previous set of Eastern North America entries (might be a few maps if I can't my current idea ends up looking bad) and will probably do one for East Asia once I finish the next chapter. Sometimes I end up putting this on hiatus for a few months to work on the maps. I actually might do that after the next chapter.
Maps are my weak point IMO since I always have trouble figuring out just how to portray the information. Right now I'm working on and off on a map for the previous set of Eastern North America entries (might be a few maps if I can't my current idea ends up looking bad) and will probably do one for East Asia once I finish the next chapter. Sometimes I end up putting this on hiatus for a few months to work on the maps. I actually might do that after the next chapter.
I think your maps are of high quality so don't be too critical of your map-making skills :) Only gripe I have is that the infotext is quite small oftentimes.