Exploring the legacy of Leif Erikson

Leif Erikson

Photo: Max Stevenson / Norway House
“Leif Eriksson sights land in America,” Christian Krohg, 1893.

Editor’s Notes

The Norwegian American

Dear readers and friends,

One of our contributors recently asked me if we may have had our fill of Vikings for a while, and it didn’t take but a second for me to answer back an unequivocal “No.” 

Honestly, going by the reader feedback we get, I am not sure if we can get enough of them.

I got thinking about why this is the case, and I think the answer lies at the core of who we are as an ethnic group. First of all, many of us are curious about our roots, and the Vikings harken back to a romanticized time in history, a time of adventure and discovery in an unspoiled landscape. The world was theirs until something stopped them, and we share this sense of adventure.

Perhaps it’s in our DNA to be curious about the world around us, and the seafaring Vikings dared to venture out and discover what was beyond the horizon. No other historical figure embodies this Viking spirit better than Leif Erikson (spelling variations include Eriksson, Eiriksson, or Ericson), who made it all the way to North American shores. Leif is symbol for anyone who wants to go beyond set boundaries. Legend and archaeological evidence place him on shores of the New World centuries before Christopher Columbus. He has come to personify the Nordic immigrant spirit, and all immigrants for that matter.

So, it is with great please that we dedicate this issue to the legacy of Leif Erikson in all its positive aspects—with an acknowledgement of the negative aspects. We know that little regard was paid to Indigenous peoples in the Vinland settlement, and throughout history, European immigrants have displaced native peoples. We are proud that this is now being acknowledged throughout our community. We can be proud to read about the Leif Erikson festival in Minneapolis that brings all the people of the Nordic community, as well as the broader community, together. 

In this special issue, you will also travel to L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, believed to have been the home of the historical Leif Erikson in North America. You will learn what can be explored and how the efforts to unearth and celebrate Viking history has preserved a community and helped it thrive in modern days. 

We will also learn that the Viking spirit lives on in modern days, as we read about Norwegian educator, explorer, and lecturer Liv Arnesen’s expedition to the South Pole. Last month, Arnesen was featured in a special virtual program sponsored by Norway House, and you can not only read a review of her book, but you can also watch the program at The Norway House YouTube channel. This is only one of the many programs that Norway House offers, and we are so proud to now be part of their organization.

These are only a few of the special stories that we are bringing you with this issue, as we always work to bring you a variety of features to enjoy.

With this issue, we also have a few changes to report. Courtney Olsen, who came to us as an intern and quickly moved into the role of assistant editor, is moving on to a full-time position at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. As fate would have it, her dream job became available unexpectedly, and she is quickly moving onward and upward in her career. We want to thank her for her service—she has done an amazing job—and I am happy to report that she still will continue to manage our social media publishing on a freelance basis. 

We are currently looking at our staffing requirements as we grow the paper, but we have very good help in the meantime. I am also happy to report that Andy Meyer is still on call with us (he does a brilliant job translating our comics), and our copy editor, Becky Gjendem, is taking on more duties in the interim. Madison Leiren will continue to work with us as a photographer and all-round creative force.

That is how it is with our family here at The Norwegian American and with our community: we stick together and support one other. We are the modern-day Vikings, who won’t be stopped. It’s this can-do spirit that has sustained our paper over the years and helped it grow in recent times. 

And yes, you must be thanked, too, for continuing to support us as our loyal subscribers. Every time you tell someone about the paper, you are helping reach our goals. Many of you send gift subscriptions to your family and friends, and your additional donations are greatly appreciated. And now with our non-profit status, those donations are tax-deductible.

At that, as always, I want to wish happy reading adventures, good health and much happiness!

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 17, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.