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Sarfannguit

The settlement Sarfannguit is located at the tip of an island, just barely connected to the mainland, and currently (2023) has 101 inhabitants. The Amerloq fjord is on the northen side of the island and Ikertooq fjord is to the south. Interestingly enough the settlement is located on the northern side of the island on a steep hill side, making it unrealistic to use anything but ATV, UTV or snowmobile when transporting on the roads.

The steep shadowed location on the Sarfannguaq Island was chosen because it’s a fisher-hunter community. Some prey and fish that have been caught and are processed don’t do well in the sunlight, so creating home on an area the sun has difficulty reaching is a practical decision. Though placing the community on the mainland would have made transportation more comfortable the importance of drying meat and fish as well as keeping it cool was detrimental to the inhabitants.

The prime occupation of Sarfannguit has always been fishing ever since it was officially established in 1843, and historical fishing tools as well as archaeological excavations prove that fish has always been an essential food source. Greenlandic fisheries have been mechanized since the 1930’s and industrialization has made fishing one of the most profitable and stable occupations in Greenland.

For Suulut Olsen that grew up in Sarfannguit, fishing and hunting is his daily life and he wouldn’t want it any other way. As a fisher-hunterman he has to be proficient in fishing with line, trap nets, and be able to do it from a dinghy, fishing boat or sea ice. In addition, he has to have shooting proficiency to hunt caribou, muskox, seals and smaller whales. With these skills he is able to hunt year-round and provide both food and trading goods for his family.

Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa (Greenland National Radio) has in collaboration with Aasivissuit – Nipisat and filmmaker Aannguaq Reimer-Johansen made a three-part tv-program about Sarfannguit. It is in Greenlandic.

Photo by Jens Fog Jensen

Sarfannguit (1:3) KNR 01.06.2021 – YouTube

Sarfannguit (2:3) KNR 08.06.2021 – YouTube

Sarfannguit (3:3) KNR 15.06.2021 – YouTube

Another program about Sarfannguit published by Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa (Greenland National Radio) is also available on YouTube:

Sarfannguit – Nunaqarfinni inuuneq 23.05.2017 – YouTube

Photo by Jens Fog Jensen

Saqqarliit

The deserted settlement Saqqarliit was established in 1859 at the bottom of Ikertooq fjord and became a succesful fishing settlement because of its auspicious location, but it was abandoned in 1961 due to the urbanization in Sisimiut that caused their trading to fail and took away their opportunity to sustain themeselves.

Right around the time the settlement was founded, the industrial possibilities for fishing in the Greenlandic waters was discovered. Greenlandic hunters were encouraged by danish colonizers to buy boats and dinghys, and process their caught fish by drying or salt it and export it to buyers in Denmark, that would greatly enjoy this delicious catch. To this day, fisheries remain a main income for the Greenlandic people.

Most families moved to nearby settlements and towns as they needed jobs but didn’t want to leave the familiar landscape. Like many other currently abandoned settlements, Saqqarliit is often visited by the descendants of the previous inhabitants, to reminisce and continue fishing-hunting where their ancestors used to live off the land.

Photo by Paninnguaq Boassen

 

Several of the families that used to inhabit Saqqarliit now live in Sarfannguit. One of them is Karl Timas Kajussen that was born and raised in Saqqarliit and became hunter-fisherman after his confirmation – and so became colleagues with his grandfather that had been bringing him along on hunts since he could carry a rifle. It is common to have boys in the middle of their teens begin their career in this field as it is believed they’ve physically grown enough to not harm their further physical development.

As Saqqarliit is located on the mainland there were several trails leading inland but all of them required to hike at least part of a mountain, and so even a mainland location for a settlement has its disadvantages. Karl Timas Kajussen remembers the trail that his grandfather showed him that led through the landscape, south around the eastern tip of Tasersuaq (Big Lake) and up northwest where a popular hunting ground for caribou is located. They would also hunt along the trail if the right situation occured but their goal, like many hunters, were to reach a preferred aasivik (summer camp) and stay for up to several weeks with family and fellow hunters.

Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa (Greenland National Radio) has in collaboration with Aasivissuit – Nipisat and filmmaker Aannguaq Reimer-Johansen produced a three-part tv-program about Saqqarliit, in which one of the interviewees are Karl Timas Kajussen himself. It is in Greenlandic.

Saqqarliit (1:3) KNR 03.11.2020 – YouTube

Saqqarliit (2:3) KNR 10.11.2020 – YouTube

Saqqarliit (3:3) KNR 17.11.2020 – YouTube

Photo by Paninnguaq Boassen

Nipisat

The island Nipisat has a rich history involving Inuit settling about 4500 years ago, Thule culture people in the 16-hundreds, colonists in the 17-hundreds, and locals today that are still attracted to the land and sea for its abundance in food and resources.

Thick books can be written about it’s history and the drama that ensued. It is perfectly located for staying during the winter but also during the summer. The shallow waters on the southern side of the island made it the perfect place to trap whales, and there’s land close by to travel inland, and it’s right by the sea while also being close to two different fjords, making it possible to catch a wide variaty of fish close by. There is a living culture on the island now but nobody permanently lives there like in the past.

In recent decades Nipisat has become known among locals as the place to go pick big juicy crowberries. When looking around to nearby islands several cabins can be spotted, these are used by families as summer houses while they spend their time in the landscape to hunt, forage and enjoy the nature.

Photo by Dorthea Reimer-Johansen

You should be careful when moving around on Nipisat. Because of the several millenial long traces of human settlement on the island there are gravesites, house ruins, tent rings and other traces that we ask you not to move, dig holes into or disturb while you are there. Signage and a path has been set up on Nipisat for tourists to follow so the landscape is minimally disturbed.

Photo by Dorthea Reimer-Johansen

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