New People – The Thule Culture
In the 1920s archaeologists examined old kitchen middens and house ruins by Uummannaq Mountain in the Thule area. They found a culture which they called: The Thule culture. It has its origins far to the west by the northern coasts of the Bering Strait.
Between 800 and 1000 A.D. Inuit developed an efficient hunting culture at sea with active whaling. The large catches created a surplus population, which sought new hunting grounds further east. The journey to the east was easy with the efficient combination of umiaq, dog sleigh and kayak. At the same time strong climate heating had reduced the sea ice in northern Canada.
When the Inuit came to the Thule area around 1200 they met the ancient inhabitants of the area, the Dorset people, and the Norsemen, who came from their settlements in South Greenland. As the Inuit spread through Eastern Arctic, the 2.000 year-old Dorset culture disappeared almost without a trace. The Inuit called these people Tunit. The Thule people are the forefathers and -mothers of the present Inuit, from
From Thule the travel continued around Greenland. In the 1400s other Inuit came to North East Greenland. In the 1300s they were in the Nuuk area. Around 1450 the Norsemen had disappeared and the Inuit were the only inhabitants in the country. They adapted to local conditions and resources, for example the dog sleigh disappeared on the West Coast south of Kangerlussuaq (Søndre Strømfjord).
The increasing cold during the Little Ice Age (around 1350-1850) pushed people out of North Greenland and contributed to the creation of larger local communities in the resource rich areas from the 1500s.
In West Greenland the rich occurrences of reindeer, berries and trout in the inland created a new settlement pattern, where the people lived on the coast during the winter and inland during the summer. Everywhere in the country access to seal hunting was a precondition for survival. This catch was supplemented by hunting whales, walrus-es, birds, musk oxen or reindeer, and mussels and plants were gathered. The Inuit society was flexible and you could switch between collective whaling and reindeer hunting, as well as individual seal hunting.
In the 1600s there was considerable European whaling between East Greenland and Svalbard, as well as expeditions in the Davis Strait. In the 1700s the whalers moved to the Davis Strait and on the West Coast there was contact with the Inuit.
The Thule area was apparently unpopulated in the 1500s and 1600s, but around 1700 a group of Copper Inuit from Canada moved there. This is why the language in Avanersuaq/Thule is not the same as in the rest of Greenland.
Around 1850 Greenland was populated from Thule along the West Coast to Ammassalik / Tasiilaq. With a new immigration in the 1860s, a small group of Inuit with Qillarsuaq at the helm came to Uummannaq from Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin Island).
From 1721 the Danish colonization of the West Coast expanded. In 1894 the last large settlement in East Greenland (Ammassalik) was made a colony, and in 1909 the Uummannaq settlement and its hunting areas were colonized under the name Thule.