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Inuit Odyssey

Premiering On: Thursday February 12, 2009 at 8 pm on CBC-TV

Repeating On: Thursday February 26, 2009 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld

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Inuit Odyssey

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0:30 min

 

 

Inuit Odyssey follows Canadian Arctic anthropologist Niobe Thompson as he takes us on a visually stunning journey across the North, tracing the origins of the modern Inuit. In a circumpolar expedition stretching from the ancient hearth of Thule culture in Siberia to the final battleground of the Thule and the Norse in Greenland, Inuit Odyssey explores the mysteries of the Thule conquest of the Arctic. Along the way, Thompson makes some startling new scientific discoveries and challenges our stereotypes of the "peaceful Eskimo" by shedding new light on the first meeting of Asiatic and European settlers in the New World.

Niobe Thompson
Canadian Arctic anthropologist Niobe Thompson. Read a director's statement.

More than 1,000 years ago, the Arctic began to change as the climate warmed, the ice melted and whales and walrus streamed north. As Thompson discovers, with the warming came a deadly and unexpected threat for the Dorset, who lived in the Canadian Arctic before the ancestors of the modern Inuit.

Gentle giants, the Dorset were violently overwhelmed by an invading force of sea-faring whalers whose ocean-going vessels, weapons, and hunting technology far surpassed their own. Surprisingly, these invaders were not Europeans - they were the compact and warlike Thule Inuit from the Bering Sea far to the west. Within two centuries, the Dorset had died out, and the Thule had reached the farthest extent of their expansion, bringing them into contact with a thriving population of Medieval Norse settlers in southwest Greenland. This was an extraordinary meeting - a New World encounter of two cultures, one East Asian and one European. But it was not a friendly one - the Thule engaged the Norse in a battle for survival - a battle the Europeans, like the Dorset, lost.

inuit women
A recreation of Inuit women as they prepared food in ancient times. Read about the history of the Thule migration.

Inuit Odyssey brings to life the ancient world of the Inuit through period recreations shot across the Arctic. Drawing on science from Russia, Canada and Denmark, Thompson advances a new solution to the mystery of Greenland's lost Norse colonies.

Inuit Odyssey is written and directed by Niobe Thompson.

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