Melting Arctic Threatens Age-Old Hunt In Northernmost Greenland Village

"The northernmost village in Greenland sits just shy of 78 degrees north latitude — deep in the Arctic — yet during the summer, meltwater is everywhere. It flows in small rivulets and larger streams, past multicolored houses built against a sloping hill and down to the Inglefield Bredning, as it is called in Danish — a broad body of water at the confluence of several fjords.

Since the Inugguit people arrived in this village in 1953, life has been focused on hunting in and around this gulf, a summer habitat for narwhals, the rare whales with long, spearlike tusks that give them a mythic quality. In winter, the six-mile-wide body of water freezes solid enough to drive a car on; in summer, it is choked with enormous icebergs from nearby glaciers. Fragments of ice wash ashore along the beach here or loudly tumble in the shallows with the tides.

Traditionally, the inhabitants of this town of 630 would harpoon narwhals from kayaks in the summer and then in the winter use dog sleds to travel across the ice to hunt seals, walruses, polar bears and other marine mammals. They voyaged many miles, up and down the coast. Even today, Qaanaaq’s residents collectively own hundreds of dogs, chained to nearly every home, it seems, and constantly howling."

Chris Mooney reports for the Washington Post April 29, 2017.

Source: Washington Post, 05/01/2017