The Lands of the Bear and Those who have Shared Them: Ch 1 of Go Greenland

September 30, 2021
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THE word Arctic comes from ancient Greek. It means the lands and seas ‘of the bear’, meaning that they lie under the northern polar constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear.

But the Arctic is full of living bears, too: of polar bears, and grizzly-type bears. So perhaps when we speak of the part of the world that belongs to the bear, that has a double significance.

Such were the lands of the bear which, due to extreme weather, dangerous animals and harsh landscapes, remain comparatively unpopulated to this day. Indigenous people make up much of the numbers in those areas where anyone lives at all.

I saw the impact of global warming for myself, most notably in Greenland. The fragile environment has become less dependable and that has meant a significant loss of traditions and ways of life.

The Inuit are the indigenous people of Greenland and of much of far-north Canada and Alaska as well. All Inuit people speak the same language, but in a continuum of dialects that stretches from Alaska to Greenland. The Greenlandic or Kalaallit Inuit have four main dialects, defined by the cardinal locations of north, south, east and west.

Large amounts of meat are consumed in the Arctic north, as edible plants do not grow easily there. The Inuit have some biological adaptations which means that eating large amounts of meat is not as unhealthy for them as it would be for most people.

Go Greenland is available on this website,


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