Blessings and Horrors of the Interior: Ethno-Historical Studies of Inuit Perceptions Concerning the Inland Region of West Greenland

Bjarne Grønnow

Abstract

The yearly cycle of the marine adapted historic Inuit in western Greenland included a stay in Nunap Timaa, the Inland (or interior), where they hunted on the high plains bordering the inland ice. Families traveled far to reach the “classical” hunting grounds, where they spent a few weeks in summer camps hunting caribou and fishing for char. Summer was a great time for feasting and socializing. At the same time, however, the inland region was considered extremely dangerous: it was haunted by qivittut [human outcasts] and a great variety of “non-empirical” creatures: ghosts, inland people, giants, animal monsters, etc. These inland beings are presented in a comprehensive database on legends and tales from nineteenth century western Greenland. Inuit had contradictory feelings about the Inland and the Greenland Ice Cap, which were perceived as a dangerous transitional zone between worlds, yet these landscapes held an important position in the view of the world of historic Inuit.

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