Siorapaluk Little Sand
Latitude: 77º 47’ 43”
Longitude: -70º 45’ 21”
Learn to pronounce Siorapaluk
Located on the north side of Robertson Fjord in the Qaanaaq area, Siorapaluk is the northernmost community in the world. The about 80 people in the community live only about 850 miles (1362 km) from the North Pole! Sirorapaluk name means “little sand,” it is named so because of the narrow sandy beach that is directly in front of the small community.
The community is very traditional at the same time the locals of course take use of any and all modern means to make it easier to live in such a remote place. When the sea becomes open sometime around August, large dinghies with powerful engines are used for hunting trips!
The cliffs around Siroapaluk are reknown breeding grounds for Dovekie. Further south that is the birds known as "auk"- and the Thick-billed murre, plainly called "murre." There are also many Arctic Hares and Arctic foxes in the area and an abundance of walruses and seals. It is an excellent area for hunting, and hunting trips are known to go on for weeks. But there are severe local restrictions which control where and how the hunting is done. For example narwhals may only be hunted with harpoons. Nothing from the hunt is wasted; the skins are used for clothing and covering the kayaks. The flesh and offal are eaten by humans and domesticated animals, the narwhal and walrus tusks are carved into finely-worked figures, jewelry and hunting implements, and even feathers are used in handicrafts all from the kill. For long journeys by sled the best gear to wear are bearskin trousers and sealskin boots or kamiks. No roads connect to the community from the outside and air trasnportation is both limited and very expensive, so transport by dogsled and snow mobile to the larger community of Qaanaaq to the south is very frequent.
The average temperature is 30 degree Celsius in February and March. The sun sets for the winter … and rises again on March… It is light twenty-four hours of the day from the middle of April to the end of August.
Since North America is such a short distance away, Siroapaluk has been the gateway to Greenland for thousands of years and both the first explorers – an Inuit people from Ellesmere Island in Canada some 4000 years ago, as well as the more recent migration only some 130 years ago is all traced back to the area.
The community an electrical power plant, direct satellite radio and TV-broadcasting, and a store. The school is combined with the local church and a small public library. Although there are no resident medical facilities, the community is visited regularly by a physician and a dentist.
Siroapaluk is well-known for being the fictitious birthplace of Miss Smilla in the world reknown novel and film Smilla’s Sense of Snow! The community is also known for the incredible work done by local hunters and elders in research on sea ice and climate change in collaboration with our own GoNorth! Cool Scientist Shari Gearheard.
A Change in the Weather – the most recent article by Shari Gearheard featuring the work of local hunters
Meet Magssannguaq Oshima – speaking to climate change and life in the region
“Last Day of the Ice Hunters” features the community and hunters in National Geographic Magazine
… and see cool wild photos from that assignment here
“Greenland Navigates Sea Ice Change” – article with quoates and knowledge from the community in Denverpost.com
Finding the Words: The Language of Ice and Climate Change – another article by Shari Gearheard on the work by locla hunters in the community working with hunters in other Arctic communities http://www.denverpost.com/ci_7947699 [have as PDG elsewhere?]
Sources courtesy of: http://www.greenland-guide.gl/reg-qaanaaq.htm, http://www.hotelqaanaaq.dk/, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siorapaluk, and http://www.geus.dk/program-areas/raw-materials-greenl-map/greenland/gr-map/sh_05a.jpg