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  - May 2000. no. 6

LEIF    ERIKSSON

Leif Ericson, Reykjavik, Iceland.
  The official arrangement, which will take place in Qassiarsuk, Narsarsuaq and Igaliku July 15.-17. 2000, is now at the final stages in regards to program, guest list, accomodation and transport by air and ship. Up to 300 people have now received the Premiers invitation to attend the festivities.
 
Among the invited guests who will attend are; Queen Margrethe the Second and Prince Consort Henrik, President of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grímsson, The Premier of the Faroe Islands Anfinn Kallsberg og and the United States Ambassador to Denmark, Richard N. Swett as well as Ministers for Culture and Church from the Nordic Countries, MP's and several Ambassadors.
 
Guests from the USA, Canada, Faroe Islands and Iceland will arrive from Iceland to Narsarsuaq with a charter from Atlantic Airways Friday July 14. and travel back Monday July 17. Guests from the Nordic Countries and Denmark will arrive through Greenlandair's scheduled flight from Kastrup Friday July 14. and travel back again Monday July 17. Guests from Greenland will be flown in by charter by Greenlandair.
 
The Royal Ship Dannebrog and the inspection ship Vædderen as well as an inspection cutter from Grønnedal will be in the area. Some of the guests will stay onboard those ships. Other invited guests will be lodged at the Hotel Narsarsuaq and other hostels in the area.
 
Since the arrangements are to take place both in Narsarsuaq, Qassiarsuk and Igaliku, the guests will be transported over the sound to the different arrangements according to where they live.
 
Preparedness during the festivities is already planned with the arrival of a force of 15 policemen and 2 police cutters. In addition to that, the Department of Health and the Defence Command will be a part of the preparedness.
 
Press Center
Journalists from all over the world will also attend the festivities. Journalists coming from from Time, Newsweek, DR, TV2, KNR-TV og AG, just to pick a few. A Press Center will be established to serve these journalists at the administration building of Mittarfeqarfiit in Narsarsuaq, TeleGreenland will sponsor extra ISDN connections, fax and phone lines. Exhibition hall and history books
An exhibition hall will be established at the Narsarsuaq gym, a representation of Greenlandic art and handicraft will be exhibited. The hall will also be connected to the Viking Inuit rally which is to take place in the vicinity.
 
In the exhibition you will be able to find original water color paintings which have been used for the book Leif Eiriksson, a bilateral project between Iceland and Greenland. The history books are to be used for teaching children in grades 6, 7 and 8, The books have been printed in Greenlandic, Danish and Icelandic. The viking ship arriving to Qassiarsuk July 15. 2000, will have a few copies onboard directly from Iceland, and the books will handed over to the President of Iceland and Premier of Greenland Jonathan Motzfeldt. One of the intentions is to translate the history books into American for the American school children.
 
Viking - inuit - rally and a viking restaurant
During the festival days of July 15. - 17. juli 2000 32 vikings from Iceland and Scandinavia together with local artists will stage life in Greenland as it was a 1000 years ago with music, song, drum dancing, duels, archery, sale of grilled meats and drinks. Story telling is also part of the program, so a lot of things will happen during the three days that the rally takes place. During all of the rally a temporary restaurant will be set up at the large green garage in Narsarsuaq. Grilled lamb, caribou and other good foods will be sold from the large viking grill. You will also be able to obtain drinks there.
 
What will happen after?
This arrangement will hopefully be the first of many to be arranged in cooperation with the two other West Nordic countries Iceland and the Faroe Islands. It is part of the plan that the Faroe Islands will host the next rally to take place in 2001, and in 2002 Qaqortoq is next to host this arrangement.
 
Since 1995 Iceland has held annual viking rallies on the initiative of restaurant owner Jóhannes Vidar Bjarnason, who owns a viking restaurant in Hafnarfjördur. June 16 this year, Jóhannes Vidar Bjarnason opens a West Nordic Cultural Center in his hometown. He will use the cultural center as an embassy for tourist cooperation between the three West Nordic Countries: Greenland, Faroe Islands and Iceland.
 
It is expected that these arrangements will result in an increase of tourism from USA to Greenland. A close cooperation in the West Nordic Cultural Centre is therefore a good offer which ought to be well received from Greenland. Tourist-wise, it will be a door opened to the huge neighbour to the West.
 
In the USA the Leif Eiriksson arrangement have been followed with great interest. The Leif Eirikssons Day will be celebrated in the USA on October 9. 2000, this event will take place in the American Scandinavian Foundations new premises in New York. That day a special Leif Eiriksson stamp will be issued in Greenland and in Iceland.
 
Greenland Tourism to New York
GT sends a representative to New York, who in cooperation with the department of the Danish Tourist Council will follow up on different initiatives in regards to the marketing of Greenland.
 
A wedding church
In connection with the thousand year anniversary two of the oldest buildings from the viking era have been erected in close cooperation with Icelandic experts. It is the first Christian Church in the North American Continent, a church which Eirik the Red's wife Tjodhildur let build in the year 1000 in Brattahlid, contemporary Qassiarsuk. The other building is Eirik the Red's farm from the same place.
The dedication of these two buildings will take place on Sunday July 16. 2000. It has not yet been determined how these two buildings should be used in the future. One could imagine that Tjodhildurs church could be a Free Church or be a wedding church for tourists. One could also imagine that newly weds could overnight in Eirik the Red's farm. A wedding in these historic surroundings will undoubtedly attract couples from the viking countries or our huge neighbour in the West.
 
Thus, possibilities are numerous for future use of the farm. The building could be used for exhibitions or as a hotel for tourists who will experience the sense of the presence of history, in this viking farm which named the largest island of the world over a thousand years ago.
 
Hans Egede's son Niels Egede relates in his dairy from 1750 that a shaman, who was "born south of the warm baths" (the Uunartoq island with the hot springs) had related the following story:
"A short while after the first Inuit had come to these regions and had settled close to the houses of the Norse, three small vessels came to them and plundered and killed some of the Norwegians (Norse), but since the Norwegians became champions, two of these ships had to sail away and the third one they took as a prize.
But the following year, a whole fleet came and there was strife, they took the cattle and furniture of the Norse and sailed away. The other Norse who survived, put their boats to sea, loaded them with the cargo that was left and sailed south of the land, and left a few behind, who the Inuit promised to stand by should evil in the future befall them.
 
But the year after, the gruesome pirates came back once more, and when the Inuit saw them, they took flight and brought some of the Norse children and women with them into the fiords and let the others stay behind.
 
When fall came and the Inuit returned and expected to find again some, it was with horror they saw, that all things had been stolen, houses and farms burnt and destroyed, and everything was missing. For this sight the Inuit took the Norse women and children with them and fled deep into the fiord, and there stayed in calm for many years and took the Norse women as wifes."
 
(Excerpt from the book "Forvandlingens år" by Jørgen Fleischer, Atuakkiorfik 1996)
 
The mystery behind the disappearance of the Norse may never be solved, but this story from a shaman may give a clue to the theories around their disappearance. It also confirms the statement that claims that the Norse and the Inuit lived peacefully side by side.
 
  Edited by: Jørgen Fleischer & Benedikte Thorsteinsson


 

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