The movie THE LAST ICE HUNTERS tells the story of the present generation of hunters in the Inuit community of Eastern Greenland, and represents the final chapter in their long history.
Merely 4500 people inhabit East Greenland’s 20.000km long coast. It is one of the least populated places on our planet. Due to the isolation caused by the ice cap, no colonization of East Greenland took place, and the area remained practically unknown to anyone outside the local population. Only in the last five generations, the ”modern” world entered East Greenland. In the last 100 or so years, the local populace faced dramatic changes, from living in total isolation, the way people lived in the Stone Age, to integration in the world global village. The world of the Inuit is changing at an alarming pace.
The environment of East Greenland created one of the most specialized hunting cultures in the world. There are few places on Earth where humans suffered more hardship and coped with such an extreme hostile environment. Although a lot has changed and a plenty of modern commodities have become part of everyday life in East Greenland, nature still reigns supreme. Hunting skills are still the basis for survival. The modern hunters have all the modern equipment they want, but if they do not understand the surrounding environment, at the end of the day, they remain empty handed.
Cultural roots are still deep and strong, and the hunter is the pillar of society in these areas. It is not surprising that the main occupations in remote settlements are seal hunting and fishing. But nowadays not everybody on East Greenland is a full time hunter. The status of the hunter as the economic basis of the society has been severely undermined. The 2009 EU ban on seal fur trading was intended to curb the overkill of seal populations by big hunting industries. But it has also hurt the economic foundations of Inuit societies. Now, they are more and more reliant on foreign aid.
The people of East Greenland lived in a delicate balance and relationship with their environment. It sets the pace of life and all the natural cycles of living. Now their environment and society is rapidly changing. The undermining of the economic structure of their society, together with the unstoppable cultural influences of the outside world, is causing the disappearance of an indigenous Inuit culture that existed for 4000 years.