The Legend of Qajuuttaq: Exploring the Potential of Inuit Oral History in South Greenland

Mikkel Sørensen and Pauline Knudsen

Abstract

In this article, we explore the Inuit legend of the Inuk Qajuuttaq, employing an ethnohistorical, anthropological, and archaeological approach. Qajuuttaq’s legend takes place in South Greenland in the area of Narsaq around AD 1800. Our research concerns what the local population of the Narsaq area knows about Qajuuttaq and his history in 2018. Six people with knowledge about Qajuuttaq were interviewed. We document and analyze four sites connected to Qajuuttaq using archaeological methods. We conclude that important fragmentary knowledge about Qajuuttaq’s life and history exists today but that modern Inuit emphasize a very different meaning and morality about Qajuuttaq, compared to when the legend was written down in 1867. Our main point is that Inuit family legends are very important entries into Inuit history and prehistory, especially if the legends are analyzed in relation to the landscapes where they took place.

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