Saturday, June 15, 2013

Trouble in Far-Away Places

You don’t hear much about Labrador these days. Google it and you get eleven pages on Labrador retrievers and 2 articles about the country.  In fact it isn’t a country. It isn’t even a province. Labrador is part of the province in Canada known as Newfoundland-Labrador. It is twice the size of the island but has only 8% of the population. Most folks live in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.    


Labrador could fit inside Nevada. The climate varies from polar to sub-arctic, not a choice spot for beach volleyball or even a frozen yogurt though the views are spectacular. It is probably a great place for a witness-protection program and a certain destination if you are a polar bear. There are currently 28,000 people living there and 100,000 moose. Here’s something you didn’t know: Moose are the most dangerous animal in North America. Why? Because they are taller than cars, drawn to headlights and if you should hit one expect 1,100 plus pounds to fall through your windshield.
Another tidbit: in 1943 German submarines gained their only foothold in North America establishing a weather station in the northern tip. It wasn’t discovered until 1980.


And tell me again why I want to know all this? You want to know because the indigenous people are Inuit and Innu and they warrant our attention. Greenland is also 90% Inuit and their relationship with mother country Denmark was recently the subject of the internationally acclaimed Danish series on political intrigue, Borgen, now shown on public television.


Greenland, and thanks for asking, is considered part of North America but has been colonized by European countries for a millennium. Four years ago it was granted some measure of autonomy. It is the least densely populated country in the world and the largest island, ideal for U. S. nefarious acts such as rendition in which terrorist suspects are abducted and whisked away for interrogation and worse.
Over twenty countries, including Ireland, Italy, Iceland and Lithuania have taken part in these extraordinary inquisitions. Kudos to Danish TV for bringing to light their own involvement. The program also addressed the plight of the native people in Greenland where the suicide rate ranks highest. As a virtual colony of Denmark their identity has been severely compromised.

Greenland is not the size of South America as it appears on many maps. It is about the area of Belgium, Norway and Denmark combined. But Greenlanders are a proud people racially aligned with other arctic inhabitants. Their territory should not be a repository for our extrajudicial, muscular hegemony.
As for the Labrador retrievers they are the most popular dog in the U.S., Canada, Australia and U.K., so named for their retrieval of fishing nets. Bred from mastiffs and St. John water dogs, their name may, one day, become symbolic, helping to retrieve the culture of their homeland. As the polar ice cap melts Labrador and Greenland could witness a population-boom along with a new sense of empowerment and win their struggle for full sovereignty.

See how much more you know now than you did five minutes ago.

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