The helicopter shakes softly as it lands in the small heliport of Ammassalik after a short flight over East Greenland. It is still August, but the intense cold penetrates our protective jackets.

East Greenland Expedition I: Ammassalik

Our team has come to this pure white landscape to capture on film and in their own words the essence of the Inuit, the native people of Greenland, poised on the blade of survival between rich cultural traditions and modern technological advances.

East Greenland Expedition I: Ammassalik

Ammassalik (Tasiilaq) is one of the two municipalities in East Greenland, occupying 240,000 km2 of ice in the southern sector. It is a modern society with many of the same facilities that are found in the rest of the world. Its population is around 3,000 people, primarily Inuit.

East Greenland Expedition I: Ammassalik

East Greenland Expedition I: Ammassalik

Thomas lives here with his family. “During a period of 100 years we have faced many changes, coming from a life in isolation to being a part of the rest of the world,“ he says. “Television, the Internet, fast food and fashion trends have become a part of our life here.”.

East Greenland Expedition I: Ammassalik

East Greenland Expedition I: Ammassalik

Most people here earn their living from seal hunting and fishing. Meat comes from seals, polar bears, minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and narwhals (Monodon monoceros). Once a year, in springtime, a mass of capelin (Mallows villosus), a small fish of the smelt family, come close to the shore to spawn and be caught. Inuit say that Ammassalik owes its name to the fish, called Ammassat in Greenlandic.

East Greenland Expedition I: Ammassalik

Local customs are rich with traditional hunting practices: the skin of the polar bear belongs to the person who first saw the animal; the hunter gets the skull, some ribs and one of the hind legs.

East Greenland Expedition I: Ammassalik

East Greenland Expedition I: Ammassalik

East Greenland Expedition I: Ammassalik

Dan works for a small supermarket in Ammassalik. He says that “seal hunting remains the basis of financial and biological existence for the Inuit in Ammassalik. Seals are very common in East Greenland. Locals catch about 10,000 seals per year, using nets that are placed under the ice. Nevertheless, baby seals have never been hunted in Greenland: we always respect the environment. It is far from the Greenlandic hunting tradition to hunt baby seals, which do not carry much meat. Most of the skins are sold for processing at the tannery in West Greenland or used for clothing: bags, hats, and furs. Furs and trousers made by sealskin are no longer part of the everyday wardrobe, but are mainly used for special occasions. Meat is the national dish”.