Many glaciers are receding, as the weight of ice is reduced and the land rebounds, new islands are even appearing. And, a population of self-reliant people are joining the world’s Cash Economy.
The changes in the essential qualities of the land aren’t evident to us in our short history of travel to and within Greenland. The scale/grandeur of this realm is so far from our quotidian world that it has always taken us a few days to get our senses on board. (Visually estimating distances in Greenland is a skill we’ll never develop, however.)
The Greenlanders we’ve dealt with may have been changing also, but their basic quality -“nuannaarpoq” remains. Nuannaarpoq an Inuit word that connotes a deep satisfaction and ease, with life and their world.
Travel seems to bring this characteristic out best. We experienced it when we were taken on a thirty mile dog sledge trip by a hunter who spoke no English, no Danish, nor even the world wide Inuktitut. (He was East Greenlandic. A population whose language was altered from its origins by long years of separation from the larger populations.)
One marked change we've seen is the decrease in dogs and a slow, steady increase in internal combustion machines.
A young Icelandic friend of ours who has trained and worked as a guide took a job a few summers ago working for a bunch of corporate prospectors up near Scoresby. He was given a rifle and told to keep the prospectors from being eaten by Polar Bears.
There is a history of coal mining in western Greenland in the past and there are plans and efforts to find and mine more minerals. Hunting seals, whales and Polar Bears will probably be replaced with work in the mines.
The East coast of Greenland is called "Tunu" It's a Greenlandic word that means the "back" of the country.
The center of this area is Ammassalik, it's a peninsula with the community of Tasilaq as its heart. Because of its geographical location this area is, and always has been, relatively isolated in from the rest of Greenland (and, as one might guess,also from the rest of the world). This has left its mark in the East Greenland dialect and an old culture that has felt little influence by outside forces until recently. In fact it is only a little more than 100 years since the first Europeans "discovered" this area. In East Greenland the old traditions are still very much alive. During the winter (which starts in October) hunting trips with dog sledges (several weeks in duration) are still common. Many families choose to live at isolated spots, to improve their hunting of seals and polar bears, and pick home sites close to good fishing. The rule about no sled dogs below the Arctic Circle doesn't apply on the East coast because winter and its ice and snow are here so much longer.We've traveled a little bit with hunters on their trails near Tasilaq and in Tasilaq we met a bunch of Europeans who were leaving Tasilaq to cross the Inland Ice, dragging their plastic sleds, on a journey to the West Coast. We traveled out on the huter's sledge trail with a hunter and his team where we met up with friends of his at a few places on the trail as they returned back to Tasilaq, and points beyond, with their butchered seals. Some short videos from that trip are HERE
We didn't see any bears but when we were there at Kulusuk/Tasilaq the last time the sea ice had been blown off shore and broken up and the bears had no ice to hunt from. A number were killed when they raided larders in town. No one was allowed to go out of town without a rifle and we very soon found that we were conditioning ourselves to watch the snow in the distance for moving black spots - Polar Bear Noses!
Once summer comes, and the ice breaks up, the families are fetched by ship and boat and come to town to sell the winter bounty and buy new supplies of cartridges, coffee and other necessities. In addition to its grandiose nature, the east coast is particularly known for its exceptional and beautiful production of handicraft which, like the drum dance, is rooted in traditional culture.
Kulusuk is a small island with a small settlement but it has a level area in its center for a runway, so there's the transportation hub. A helicopter makes shuttle runs over to Tasiliq or a boat makes a little less regular connection.
The West coast of Greenland has much variety in both landscapes.and activities. In the southern part are the remains of the Viking settlements. The discoveries and excavations of these sites caused historians and archeologists, in part, to re-evaluate their attitudes towards the medieval Sagas as history, as not just a set of rambling stories but pretty good history.
The land has areas of sharp and precititous mountains and also deep fjords with broad grassy slopes. There are trails to the ice cap winding through some very distinctive landscpes. Icebergs and the occasional whale are found in in the area's fjords and bays.
In the North, just below Melville Bay, where the coast turns west, is Disko Island and Disko Bay. The ice flow into the bay is the source of most of the icebergs in the North Atlantic, and the scale and majesty of the glacier faces and icebergs are impossible to imagine without first hand observation.
Earlier Photos from Grgld1.html
Download a of the Greenland Tours from the PDF page