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Qimmeq: Greenlandic sled dogs - Manumina Lund Jensen

Part of:
5:15 PM, Friday 4 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
The aim of my PhD is to understand the changes in the dog sled culture in Greenland and to collect the knowledge of intangible culture in recent times. UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as: 

The “intangible cultural heritage” means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

The ancestors of the Greenlanders are the Thule culture. The Thule culture came to Greenland following path of the marine mammals. The Thule culture was different from other cultures that had invaded Greenland, because they had both umiaq, kayak, and dogsled. This combination made it possible for the Inuit to survive even with changing life conditions. The Inuit are the Arctic innovators.

The population of Greenlandic sled dogs have declined significantly from 22.000 dogs ten years ago to a present low approximately 15.000 dogs. One big driver for this change is climate change. Without the tracks on the sea ice in Arctic communities, the use of sled dogs is limited.

The over 1000-year-old tradition of dog sled is still a living tradition in Greenland. The dog is not just a dog in Greenland it is a dog that is necessary in the traditional way of hunting culture, the dog and human work together to life in the Arctic. The dogs are for transportation for vacation, fishing and hunting trips and leisure. The dogs are popular to gather communities for dog sled race events locally and nationally, Avannaata Qimussersua. Nowadays the sled dog is part of the Inuit cosmology and storytelling, and the dog is an important part of Greenlandic life and identity and a cultural marker. The knowledge about the dog sled given from one older individual to a younger individual, this is an oral tradition and not written in a book. Life is changing in Greenland for the Inuit and the sled dog.

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