Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes
Edited by Richard C. Powell and Klaus Dodds
Chapter 15: Making sense of contemporary Greenland: indigeneity, resources and sovereignty
On 14 August 2007 a group of residents from Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, were collecting rubies on FiskenÊsset when an approaching helicopter interrupted them. The helicopter carried police and representatives from the Greenlandic Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (BMP), a body that plays a significant role in Greenlandís efforts to expand public revenues from mineral and petroleum deposits. The ruby collectors were barred from the area, and later complained that their indigenous rights to gather resources from the land were compromised by the actions of the Nuuk-based government. This incident brings to the fore one aspect of contemporary Arctic geopolitics where Arctic states, outside states, indigenous people, international organizations and multinational companies all seek to define an Arctic region and rights over land, water and resources. At the time, the right to exploit mineral resources was a ëshared issueí between Denmark and Greenland. The 2007 incident could be explained within an overarching history of colonial governance by Denmark. More recently, a new constitutional settlement between Denmark and Greenland led to the ëSelf Ruleí agreement in 2009, and this established that property rights and the rights of exploiting the land falls to Greenland (Gr¯nlandsk-dansk selvstyrekommission 2008).The Ombudsman in Greenland subsequently criticized BMPís handling of the case, but without issuing a judgement on the legality of the activities of the stone collectors (Landstingets Ombudsmand 2009).
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