Read an excerpt from Who Was First? by Russell Freedman:
Five hundred years before Columbus, a daring band of Vikings led by Leif Eriksson set foot in North America and established a settlement. And long before that, some scholars say, the Americas seem to have been visited by seafaring travelers from China, and possibly by visitors from Africa and even Ice Age Europe.
A popular legend suggests an additional event: According to an ancient manuscript, a band of Irish monks led by Saint Brendan sailed an ox-hide boat westward in the sixth century in search of new lands. After seven years they returned home and reported that they had discovered a land covered with luxuriant vegetation, believed by some people today to have been Newfoundland.
All along, of course, the two continents we now call North and South America had already been "discovered." Before European explorers arrived, the Americas were home to tens of millions of native peoples. While those Native American groups differed greatly from one another, they all performed rituals and ceremonies, songs and dances, that brought back to mind and heart memories of the ancestors who had come before them and given them their place on Earth.
Who were the ancestors of those Native Americans? Where did they come from, when did they arrive in the Americas, and how did they make their epic journeys?
As we dig deeper and deeper into the past, we find that the Americas have always been lands of immigrants, lands that have been "discovered" time and again by different peoples coming from different parts of the world over the course of countless generations—going far back to the prehistoric past, when a band of Stone Age hunters first set foot in what truly was an unexplored New World.
Other "discoverers" . . .
Under letters patent from King Henry VII of England, the Italian John Cabot became the first European known to have landed in Canada after the Viking Age. Records indicate that on June 24, 1497 he sighted land at a northern location believed to be somewhere in the Atlantic provinces. (Wikipedia)