The Fifth Thule Expedition started in Greenland in the summer of 1921 and went on for the following three years until Knud Rasmussen, Arnarulunguak and Qaavigarsuak reached the eastern tip of Siberia in 1924. Here are they main dates during the expedition.
Expedition ship Søkongen leaves Nuuk for Ilulissat
Mayday received from MS Bele and rescue operation started
Søkongen leaves Thule
Søkongen finally leaves Nuuk in Greenland after the crew was hit by serious influenza, killing two crew mates.
Søkongen arrives at “Danske øen” in Nunavut, Canada
Søkongen leaves the crew behind and sails back.
The Danish King Christian X was in Greenland celebrating the 200 years anniversary of the arrival of the Norwegian/Danish missionary Hans Egede with his royal ship “Island”. On July 16th, while located in Ilulissat, the ship received a Mayday via the first telegram ever sent in this part of Greenland. Bele was stranded. Together with Knud Rasmussen’s ship, Søkongen, they sailed north to rescue the crew and what was salvageable of the cargo.
It wasn’t until September 7th 1921 that the expedition ship finally left Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, and sailed into Hudson Bay and further along to their first destination, a small island they named “Danske øen” (Danish Island) in the Foxe Basin in Nunavut, Canada. They built a base there called “Blæsebelgen” (the Bellow), from where they departed for different expeditions, dividing the work and regions between them. Danish archeologists Kaj Birket-Smith og Therkel Mathiassen would identify several archeological sites and map out different cultures, time periods and migration patterns, laying the theory for what has been called the Thule culture, migrating whale hunters who crossed over to Greenland at around the year 1250. Peter Freuchen focused on cartography and biology while Knud Rasmussen himself focused on the intellectual side of the Inuit living in the region, mapping their culture, traditions and mythology. Born in Ilulissat to a Danish father and a Greenlandic mother and educated in Denmark, Knud Rasmussen was equally fluent in the “white man’s” customs and scientific methods as in Inuit languages and mythology which he grew up with from his mother. This made him perfectly suited for the task ahead.
Continues further down the page…
Story by Regine Kristiansen, the last surviving child of Qaavigarsuak
Meet Regine Kristiansen, the daughter of Qaavigarsuak. Regine is 82 years of age, lives in Qaanaaq and is the last surviving child of Qaavigarsuak. In this interview she explains her dad’s role in the expedition, the reason Knud Rasmussen chose him and she shares some of her dad’s favourite memories from the expedition.
If you want to know more about the historic Fifth Thule expedition, check out the list below for related events. The list will be updated continuously.
Lecture ”Ekspedition Grønland” | Dec 2021 | Denmark
Lecture ”Ekspedition Grønland”
On the 1st December 2021, Natural History Museum of Denmark marks the 100th year anniversary of the beginning of the Fifth Thule expedition with an evening dedicated to expeditions, science and fieldwork in Greenland. The evening starts with Ivalo Olsvig – MA in Greenlandic and Arctic Studies – giving a lecture about the Fifth Thule expedition. Her lecture will focus on the two Greenlanders who were part of the expedition: Arnarulunguak and Qaavigarsuak – and what roles they played.
Where: Chr. Hansen Auditoriet, Bartholinsgade 4A, Building 34.0.01 (Copenhagen, Denmark)
When: 1st December 2021, from 19:00 to 21:15
Info: link (Danish only)
Nordlys Festival at Denmark’s National Museum | 2021 | Denmark
Nordlys Festival at National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.
When: 17-19 September 2021
The National Museum of Denmark celebrates the 100th anniversary of Knud Rasmussen’s 5th Thule expedition with the Nordlys Festival. Through music, debate, lectures, films, food and theater, the festival focuses on the people who lived and traveled in the Arctic during the time of the expedition, and on those who today carry on the Inuit culture.
For more information, visit here (in Danish).
Exhibition at Greenland’s National Museum | 2021 | Denmark
Exhibition at Greenland’s National Museum
When: soon to be announced