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In Depth: Map of Arctic Peoples

The Map of Arctic People (MAP) project has been set up to study the culture and the lifestyles of the peoples of the Arctic and subarctic regions and to establish lasting relations based on reciprocal cultural exchanges. The project is promoted within the IV International Polar Year, in collaboration with the Geographic Polar Institute of Fermo, CNR-Polarnet and under the patronage of CAI (Italian Mountain Sports Association) Executive Presidency.

The purpose of the project is to draw up a map meant to be a work of reference for students and researchers, where the concept of Arctic is defined not only from the geographical viewpoint but especially in its essence as the cultural backbone of the peoples who live there.

Many fundamental elements will serve to make the map a useful instrument: demographic data, showing the numeric relations between the people and the land, linguistic diversities, in the large linguistic groups as well as in the main dialects, comparisons with the works of historians, ethnographers, explorers and missionaries.

Analysis reports on various Arctic populations will particularly stress ethno-linguistic features, forms of habitation, income-generating forms of business and manufacturing, the social organization, religion, the handicraft trade and the location of museums.

The MAP also intends to define the spatial distribution of macroethnic groups and the areas occupied by ethnic groups of all sizes, with reference to physiognomic alterations caused by endogenous (e.g. deculturation) or exogenous transformations (e.g. cultural osmosis, enculturation, etc.), in an attempt to delineate the current situation of Arctic peoples.

The chief goal is to protect cultural traditions that still remain by carrying out projects of cooperation to support native communities, promoting ecosustainable tourism and supporting local economy, especially in more uncomfortable villages, through equitable commerce. The project analyses social problems, school education, linguistic question in collaboration with CISAI researchers at the University of Siena, who are specialized in the languages of eastern Greenland.

Activities are divided in two sectors: field work and archive work. The first is based on collecting data in the field to be use for ethno-historical comparisons; in a following stage, which involves gathering bibliographic information, archival sources, artistic handicrafts, documents on paper or otherwise, the information collected will be sorted, put into digital form and then used to create a database, a website and exhibitions.

The selected concrete instrument to collect data, establish lasting relations with native people and produce meaningful reports illustrating the actual conditions of the native people in the field are expeditions.

Up to now the effected expeditions are:
- March 2001 Svalbard (Spitsbergen Island)
- September 2002, eastern Greenland (Ammassalik);
- March 2003, eastern Greenland (Ammassalik);
- April 2005, Siberia (peninsula of Yamal);
- August 2005, eastern Greenland (Ammassalik).
- December 2006 eastern Greenland (Ammassalik)
- May 2007 Svalbard (Spitsbergen Island)
- June/July 2008 eastern Greenland (Ammassalik)

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