Nuunoq at the Festival. Photo: Rita Lukkarinen and Eero Murtomäki
Nuunoq, otherwise known as Per Ole Frederiksen is a knowledge holder, hunter and a fisherman from Attu, Greenland. He has been leading the documentation of local knowledge observations of marine ecosystem change in his home region using the PISUNA method. In September he was nominated for the prestigeous Nordic Council Environmental Prize as he was in Finland for the Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions and visits to Sámi villages as a part of the eXchanging Knowledge project.
Nuunoq’s father-in-law Jonas Ugp. and his cousin Abel L. are moving up the river
in Nassuttooq / Nordre Stromfiord to go reindeer hunting. Historical picture, personal archives
Nuunoq was a part of a Greenlandic delegation that also included Ababsi, Paviarak, Gerth and Halfdan, long-term Snowchange partners from Western Greenland. The Greenlandic team visited first the Skolt Sámi territory in Finland where they saw community-led ecological restoration of trout and grayling habitats and then went seining as well as took part in other cultural activities.
The Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions commenced on 8th September in Tornio, Finland. News of the nomination for the environmental prize reached Nuunoq at the Festival. During the event he delivered a powerful reflection of the Attu situation and their experiences:
First of all, I want to say on behalf of my travel group that we are very pleased to meet well-known and new faces here in Finland. We are pleased to be taken on our most enjoyable and unforgettable orientation trip from north to south here in Finland. This will be engraved for some time in our memories.
Halfdan and Nuunoq tasting Tornio whitefish. Photo: Rita Lukkarinen and Eero Murtomäki
I met Tero personally the first time three years ago and am glad to meet you again. Unfortunately, we haven’t almost been heard through 9 years of work in the PISUNA project, as we can say things remains unchanged from Naalakkersuisut and scientists in Greenland. Several scientists in the Greenland Institute of Natural History have even said: “Can you really give so much power to so few people?”
Their critical voices about our work have started to reach us. However, no questions have been asked to scientists as they have submitted proposals for Naalakkersuisut without taking consideration of our traditional fishing and hunting methods in our country with the result of disrupting our ways.
I can say that we have lost everything in our vicinity from the village.
As an example: in connection with the renewal and harmonization of trout fishing legislation at national level, stick hooking were prohibited, stick hooking is the traditional fishing method of trout swimming down the river in May-June at the nearby Eqalussuit Lake.
Ababsi (left), Vladimir Feodoroff, Skolt Sámi knowledge holder, and Nuunoq pulling seine in Sevettijärvi, Finland, September 2018. Photo: Snowchange
The trout dams that has been built and maintained for about a millenia were unfortunately disassembled with help of the police authorities. We have also lost the right to sell smoked char on the “board” because of the legislation, which has resulted in significantly fewer people catching trout because most capture is only for their own use.
This has resulted in an increased trout stock, hence trout has lost their normal red meat and now you catch ‘white’ trout. These are just a small part of the effects of excessive great power from the central administration.
Traditional walrus and narwhale hunting in the Thule area, ie. harpooning first from qajaq is under threat because restrictive requirements have been introduced just to make restrictions. The old hunting council is even considering to lift the ban of motorized hunting and travelling in the fiord of Thule. This will reduce the time usage of hunting, if motorized sport hunting in the fiord is practiced.
I could easily find similar examples to mention, but because of limited time, I would like to say that I envy you a lot and believe that my fellow villagers would be envious of you because you have maintained your traditions that relate to your faith. We have lost these in Greenland and they have now only become history. We can not hide that we just as tourists even marvel at traditional drummers when they come and show us.
After 1721, Hans Egede had introduced Denmark’s colonization of the land of the people, the Greenlanders has lost their traditional faith. Because they were banned from exercising this belief and related activities. These were even perceived as criminal acts and have unfortunately been forgotten in Greenland. Especially in West Greenland. Therefore, we envy you and admire you because you have preserved yours.