The Okak Archaeological Sites in northern Labrador represent a microcosm of more than 5000 years of Prehistory of that region. Excavations have revealed sites of 4 major cultures that occupied the area. The earliest of these is a southern-derived Indian culture now known as the Labrador Archaic tradition, the oldest known occupation on the coast of Labrador.
About 4000 years ago a new people, known to archaeologists as Early Palaeoeskimos (see Pre-Dorset Culture) and different in every way - linguistically, biologically and culturally - from their Labrador Archaic predecessors, arrived from the north and expanded southward at the expense of the earlier Indian peoples. These people continued to move southward along the Labrador coast and eventually, and for a brief period, populated the island of Newfoundland. In the Okak region they became extinct shortly after about 2500 years ago but were replaced by a second group of Palaeo-Eskimos known as Dorset. The origin of the Dorset people and culture is still a matter of debate among arctic archaeologists. They, in turn, apparently became extinct sometime following AD 1200, perhaps at about the same time that the Thule people, prehistoric ancestors of the present-day Labrador Inuit arrived from the north in the Okak region. The Labrador Inuit successfully occupied the coast of Labrador until the present day. They continued to spread southward beginning more than 600 years ago and eventually settled, at least briefly, as far south as the Quebec Lower North Shore.
See also Archaeology.