Leif Erikson or Leif Ericson is the most common rendering on the East Coast, while Leif Erikson is the most common rendering on the West Coast. However, Leif Erickson is the spelling widely used and recognized by many others. Icelandic: Leifur Eiríksson; Norwegian: Leiv Eiriksson c. 970 – c. 1020) was an Icelandic explorer (while his father was Norse) regarded as the first European to land in North America (excluding Greenland), nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, tentatively identified with the Norse L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada.
It is believed that Leif was born in Iceland around the 970s—the son of Icelandic mother Þjóðhildur (anglicized Thjodhild) and Norse father Erik the Red, an explorer and outlaw from Western Norway. Erik founded the first Norse colonies in Greenland, and was based at the family estate Brattahlíð in the so-called Eastern Settlement, where Leif had his upbringing. Leif had two known sons: Thorgils, born to noblewoman Thorgunna in the Hebrides; and Thorkell, who succeeded him as chieftain of the Greenland settlement.