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Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresbysund village)

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The name Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it, as the Green­lan­ders call the vil­la­ge of Scores­by­sund, means some­thing like „place with the big houses“, which is cer­tain­ly true for regio­nal stan­dards, as it is the only sett­le­ment in the who­le, lar­ge area. A small vil­la­ge of only about 400 peop­le for Euro­pean stan­dards, but one of only two towns on the who­le east coast of Green­land. The nea­rest neigh­bours are Tasi­laq, 800 km fur­ther south, and Ice­land.

The site had been used by sett­lers for cen­tu­ries, if not thousands of years, but the actu­al histo­ry of Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it does not go any fur­ther back than 1924, when it was foun­ded on pri­va­te Danish initia­ti­ve as a colo­ny to make sure the Dane­brog (the Danish flagg) would be fly­ing the­re in the wind befo­re the Nor­we­gi­an flagg might do so, as the Nor­we­gi­ans had alrea­dy secu­red Spits­ber­gen for them­sel­ves in 1920 and were now focus­sing their polar atten­ti­on towards nort­hern east Green­land. Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it is, in other words, a result of Euro­pean colo­ni­al histo­ry and not of local histo­ry in Green­land. And the first sett­lers, who were moved up from did have a dif­fi­cult time inde­ed, some fell vic­tim to dise­a­ses and star­va­ti­on in the first years, des­pi­te of the land being rich in hun­ting game, but the whe­rea­bouts and when of it still had to be learnt befo­re it could be uti­li­zed year-round. Litt­le was to be read about the­se dif­fi­cul­ties and even tra­ge­dies in Danish news­pa­pers, whe­re ins­tead the good lives of hap­py Green­lan­dic colo­nists was descri­bed very much in pro­pa­gan­da style, also this being a typi­cal part of Euro­pean colo­ni­al histo­ry.

But inspi­te this for­ced begin­ning of the modern sett­le­ment on this vast and empty coast, the inha­bi­tants soon felt at home the­re, once the first dif­fi­cul­ties had been over­co­me. Wild­life to hunt was ple­nty­ful, from musko­xen on the tun­dra over seals, wal­ru­ses and nar­wha­les in the fjords to polar bears that with the drift ice from the north in win­ter and spring. The­se natu­ral rich­nes­ses was a good basis for a small sett­le­ment whe­re most inha­bi­tants were pret­ty much self-depen­ding for most goods, and most fami­lies stay­ed over genera­ti­ons into modern days. Most inha­bi­tants of Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it now very well still today the names of their ances­tors who came from sou­thern east Green­land in 1925.

During fol­lowing deca­des, modern times moved into all Green­lan­dic vil­la­ges inclu­ding Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it, which did not necessa­ri­ly make life the­re easier. Sub­si­s­tance had to be com­ple­ted with cash, as it beca­me incre­a­singly dif­fi­cult to resist the tempt­ati­ons of the local Piler­su­i­soq (super­mar­ket) and tho­se that came with inter­net, mobi­le pho­nes and sche­du­led flights. The job mar­ket is dif­fi­cult in pla­ces like Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it, and too many bio­gra­phies have been influ­en­ced by the dark sides of zivi­li­sa­ti­on, main­ly alco­hol and its evil twins, vio­lence and sexu­al abu­se.

The social dif­fi­cul­ties are facts, but we have to – we can! – ack­now­ledge that the­re are many good peop­le in Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it who fight with a lot of moti­va­ti­on against the­se evils, and they do have suc­cess, even if it is dif­fi­cult and the road to bet­ter times is taking many turns. Many inha­bi­tants of Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it will without a second of hesi­ta­ti­on tell you that their home place is the most beau­ti­ful place in the world, and I agree with them every time I am the­re (I guess I am tra­vel­ling too much to make a final decisi­on for any given place, no mat­ter how beau­ti­ful it is). The more sad that Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it is facing a dif­fi­cult future, eco­no­mi­c­al­ly. The cuts in sche­du­led flights bet­ween Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it (or rather the near­by air­field Cons­ta­ble Point, to be pre­cise) to Tasiilaq and Ice­land are toug: cer­tain­ly for locals, who need to take the lon­ger and more expen­si­ve trip via the west coast to get to Copen­ha­gen, and for tou­rists. The­re are few any­way, but their con­tri­bu­ti­on to some local inco­mes was important, but now the alrea­dy long and expen­si­ve way to Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it is more dif­fi­cult also for them, which is again a draw­back for the local eco­no­my. One may ask how much inte­rest the Green­land government in Nuuk, far away from the litt­le sett­le­ment in Scores­by­sund on the back side of Green­land, real­ly has for the eco­no­mic well-being of Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it.

Pan­ora­mas

Click the mar­ker to get to the cor­re­spon­ding pan­ora­mas or use the text links below.

s_Ittoqqortoormiit_Panorama-Karte
  1. Monu­ment of Ejnar Mikkel­sen
  2. Muse­um
  3. Church
  4. Tou­rist Information/Nanu Tra­vel
  5. Monu­ment to Jean-Bap­tis­te Char­cot
  6. Heli­co­p­ter lan­ding pad
  7. Board­walk

Monu­ment of Ejnar Mikkel­sen

Muse­um

Church

Tou­rist Information/Nanu Tra­vel

Monu­ment to Jean-Bap­tis­te Char­cot

Heli­co­p­ter lan­ding pad

Board­walk

Back

Monument of Ejnar Mikkelsen Museum Church Tourist Information/Nanu Travel Boardwalk Monument to Jean-Baptiste Charcot Helicopter landing pad

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last modification: 2014-01-04 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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