Thule is Greek for ‘region in the far north’. Thule was a municipality in Northern Greenland, until it was identified as a location for a U.S. Airbase in the build up to the Cold War. In 1953, Inuit families were forced by Denmark to move without notice, and within four days, to provide space for the base. A new settlement was created, called Qaanaaq. It remains one of the northernmost towns in the world today.
“When I was born and growing up, we had nothing to do with the people that were there – they wouldn’t even say hello! But the soldiers started to come and say hello – very young and smiley. We didn’t understand each other but they made us laugh.”
“It was wooden inside and rocks insulation outside. It was OK for us – I loved that house. Down below I could see the mountain from our house. I was very young during that time – just a kid. But there must have been thirty or so families there.”
“They said, we have to leave the town. There was no place to go to, no houses to move into. We had to leave in four days. After three days, people started to leave town. I had never seen this. From time to time, people would go out hunting or over the winter, but never all the people at the same time, it was very odd.”
Thule Air Base is the United States Air Force's northernmost base, located 1,207 km (750 mi) north of the Arctic Circle and 1,524 km (947 mi) from the North Pole on the northwest side of Greenland. Source: Wikipedia.
“It was around springtime – May – the ice condition was no good. We were some of the last ones to leave. My father wasn’t that young anymore. He had had a tipee when he was young, he was a bit weak. My three brothers had to bring their young children over the ice, then come back to get us. They came back for us. “
Project Iceworm was the code name for a topsecret US Army program during the Cold War to build a network of mobile nuclear missile launch sites under the Greenland ice sheet. To study the feasibility of working under the ice, a highly publicized "cover" project, known as Camp Century, was launched in 1960. Source: Wikipedia.
“The government took my best friend from me. She was a half year older than me. We were always together, but she moved here. If you think one hand needs two pieces – we were always together. “
“For us children, we didn’t know what was going on. But for the adult ones it must have been very bad, because their lives were there, and they were settled there. And they were just thrown out to nothing. Sometimes I get very emotionally touched thinking about that. “
“There were no houses – nothing – we were just living in tents. It was planned that we would have a little settlement – but that summer was bad. The ice broke up but wouldn’t move. There was no wind to take the broken ice away. There was no food left. So finally the ice was gone, and the people there, they decided not to stay there.”
The Qaanaaq area in northern Greenland was first settled 2000 BC by the PaleoEskimo migrating from the Canadian Arctic. Ways of living in such severe climatic conditions are passed on from generation to generation, and this ability to adapt has contributed to the survival of this small community.
“Already before there were many hunters who complained over bad hunting in the area and the hunters were forced to go far away to get enough meat to take home. The area we lived in did not have an especially good climate either.“
“When we came here it was much easier to fish from boats without going so far out. In that respect we got better opportunities to sustain ourselves, which I am grateful for. But not everyone agrees with me in this question.”
“I saw that the families had it better and that they had both food and drink. But obviously I did not like the way we were treated, that we were forced to move without any warning. We had to leave everything, our history was in that place.”
“In some respects I feel thankful to the foreigners but I am more sceptical when it comes to the way they interfere with how we live and hunt. For many years we have created models for our lives and we do not need any authority to tell us how we should live.”
“I think that the relocation had both advantages and disadvantages. Clearly I don’t like that it happened unwillingly but on the other side there were already many people who wanted to move before the forced relocation.”
Today, Thule Air Base is the U.S. Armed Forces' northernmost installation, located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Thule's arctic environment includes icebergs in North Star Bay, a polar ice sheet, and Wolstenholme Fjord — the only place on earth where three active glaciers join together.
Webdoc by Anrick Bregman
Written by Nicole Paglia - Anrick Bregman
Color grading Alex Burt
Music Alex Kozobolis
Sound Richard Nathan
Camera André Maslennikov
Interviewer Joel Åsblom
Design Ruben Feurer
Typography Tom Jennings
Developers Luigi de Rosa - Alberto Parziale - Roll Studio - Silvio Paganini - Piotr Zalewski - Kamil Cholewiński
QA Peter Law
Executive Producers Piero Frescobaldi - Luisa Tatoli
Produced in association with American Documentary | POV
Executive Producer for POV Digital Adnaan Wasey
Executive Producer for POV Simon Kilmurry
Special thanks to Jarrod Castaing - Valentina Culatti - Yates BuckleyAdapted from the film QAANAAQ by Nicole Paglia.
The Most Northern Place
themostnorthernplace.com #webdoc #transmedia