Disko Bay has been an important location for centuries. Its coastline was first encountered by Europeans when Erik the Red started a settlement in 985 AD on the more habitable western coast of Greenland. The two settlements, called the Eastern and Western settlements, were sustenance economies that survived on animal husbandry and farming. Soon after the Western settlement was established, the Norsemen traveled up the coast during the summer thaw and discovered Disko Bay.
Their interest in this bay was due to its rich resources: walruses for ivory, seals for their pelts, and whales for a variety of materials. These products became the main source of income for the Greenlandic settlers who traded with Iceland, the British Isles, and mainland Europe. Without these resources the settlements would probably not have lasted as long as they did.
It is uncertain when the Inuit first started venturing into Disko Bay, but the Saqqaq were present there between 2400–900 BC.