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THE INUIT of the Arctic Regions Of Canada, Greenland, Russia & Alaska

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Author Topic: THE INUIT of the Arctic Regions Of Canada, Greenland, Russia & Alaska  (Read 7750 times)
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« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2009, 07:22:03 pm »

In 1536, Denmark and Norway were officially merged by personal union into Denmark–Norway, and the old Norwegian land claims were taken up by the new kingdom. In the 1660s, this was marked by the inclusion of a polar bear in the Danish coat of arms. In the second half of the 17th century Dutch, German, French, Basque, and Dano-Norwegian ships hunted bowhead whales in the pack ice off the east coast of Greenland, regularly coming to shore to trade and replenish drinking water. Foreign trade was later forbidden by Danish monopoly merchants.

In 1721 a joint merchant-clerical expedition led by Norwegian missionary Hans Egede was sent to Greenland, not knowing whether the civilization remained there, and worried that if it did, they might still be Catholics 200 years after the Reformation, or, worse yet, have abandoned Christianity altogether. The expedition can be seen as part of the Danish colonization of the Americas. Gradually, Greenland became opened for Danish merchants, and closed to those from other countries. This new colony was centered at Godthåb ("Good Hope") on the southwest coast. Some of the Inuit that lived close to the trade stations were converted to Christianity. In 1733 German followers of Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf from Herrnhut founded a mission post in South Greenland; this attracted southeast Greenlanders, who subsequently abandoned that part of the coast.

When Norway was separated from Denmark in 1814, after the Napoleonic Wars, the colonies, including Greenland, remained Danish. The 19th century saw increased interest in the region on the part of polar explorers and scientists like William Scoresby and Greenland-born Knud Rasmussen. At the same time, the colonial elements of the earlier trade-oriented Danish presence in Greenland expanded. In 1861, the first Greenlandic language journal was founded. Danish law still applied only to the Danish settlers, though. At the turn of the 19th century, the northern part of Greenland was still sparsely populated; only scattered hunting inhabitants were found there.   During that century, however, Inuit families immigrated from British North America to settle in these areas. The last group from what later became Canada arrived in 1864. During the same time, the Northeastern part of the coast became depopulated following the violent 1783 Lakagígar eruption in Iceland.

Democratic elections for the district assemblies of Greenland were held for the first time in 1862–1863, although no assembly for the land as a whole was allowed. In 1888, a party of six led by Fridtjof Nansen accomplished the first land crossing of Greenland. The men took 41 days to make the crossing on skis, at approximately 64°N latitude.   In 1911, two Landstings were introduced, one for northern Greenland and one for southern Greenland, not to be finally merged until 1951. All this time, most decisions were made in Copenhagen, where the Greenlanders had no representation. Towards the end of the 19th century, traders criticized the Danish trade monopoly. It was argued that it kept the natives in non-profitable ways of life, holding back the potentially large fishing industry. Many Greenlanders however were satisfied with the status quo, as they felt the monopoly would secure the future of commercial whaling. It probably did not help that the only contact the local population had with the outside world was with Danish settlers. Nonetheless, the Danes gradually moved over their investments to the fishing industry.

At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, American explorers, including Robert Peary, explored the northern sections of Greenland. Peary discovered that Greenland was an island and mapped the northern coasts. These discoveries were considered to be the basis of an American territorial claim in the area. All claims in Greenland itself were ceded to Denmark by a declaration connected with the U.S. Virgin Islands purchase treaty.
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