Greenland Norse Essay

1968 words - 8 pages

“The values to which people cling most
stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are
those values that were previously the source of
their greatest triumphs over diversity.”
- Jared Diamond (Collapse 275)
Defining who we are is a very important part of our lives. It is vital for humans to have a sense of identity and our belonging. Identities are made up of many factors, such as culture, values and ambitions. As humans we tend to hold on very closely to our beliefs, because they usually come hand in hand with our identity. The things we grew up seeing or believing play a huge role when trying to define who we are, and who we want to be. Once we have made up our mind on ...view middle of the document...

Greenland Norse survival was based on a combination of patriotism and hunting wild animals for meat. (Collapse 222). According to Diamond Greenland Norse started out with aspirations based on the mix livestock maintained by prosperous Norwegian chiefs. (222) The Greenland-Norse wanted to keep living a European lifestyle, at all costs.
The Greenland Norse identified themselves as Christians. Diamond states that “Greenland converted to Christianity around A.D 1000, at the same time as the conversions of Iceland and the other viking colonies, and of norway itself” (Collapse 243). The Greenland-Norse did all they could so that their lifestyle matched the one they used to live. Then began to build churches and even sent someone to go to Norway to convince the king to send them a bishop. According to Diamond, as an incentive they gave the king a large supply of of ivory, walrus hides, and best of all a live polar bear. (243). The first bishop that Greenland ever had was Arnald, after him, Greenland had nine other bishops. The bishops that were sent to Greenland all had European culture instilled in them. They favored beef over fish, and their biggest concern was to build churches. Their European characteristics made it that much harder for the Greenland-Norse to adapt to their new environment.
If I could describe the Greenland Norse in one word, I would probably use the word stubborn. They came into a land that differed from the one they were used to, and yet treated it as if it was the same. Their inability to change their old habits was their biggest mistake. The Greenland Norse had already doomed themselves when their violent ways destroyed relations with the Inuit. If they would’ve learned a thing or two from the Inuit, they would’ve had a higher chance of surviving. One of their errors was to discard the idea of hunting seals. Seals could’ve been their most reliable source to survive the cold winters. In addition Diamond states that the Greenland Norse developed some sort of taboo against eating fish. Another error that they made was their insistence on importing items that were not essential to their survival. According to Diamond much of the arriving cargo capacity was devoted to materials for churches and luxuries for the elite. (Collapse 240). They chose to import items that reinforced their European and Christian identity. They would’ve been better of importing goods that could’ve been beneficial to them.
When they arrived to Greenland they had a clean sleight, the opportunity to renew themselves and their beliefs. They chose not to do so though, instead they chose to cling on to an identity that only harmed them in the long run. They couldn’t change their preference for livestock. They chose to build churches that used many of their resources. “They thought of themselves as dairy farmers, Christians, Europeans, and especially Norse.” (Collapse 275) They chose to continue following their old lifestyle.
Having a sense of...

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