The East Greenlander is still very much a hunter. Of course the supermarket is now available with its frozen Danish chicken and pork, but they maintain their traditional hunt for seals, whales, polar-bear, birds and fish to supplement their income and maintain their traditions. Throughout thousands of years their every need was met with animal products. Their food, clothing, fuel and building materials all came from the animals they hunted. Hardly any vegetation was available for food except minor pickings of crowberries and angelica in the summer. All their vitamins came from eating raw meat, blubber, liver etc in addition to the cooked food. The word Eskimo actually means “eaters of raw meat” and is now considered offensive in much of the Arctic.
Their life was in a cruel way fully sustainable. Their own population was quickly reduced when the hunting failed. In the 1700-1800´s the seal, whale and polar bear hunt sometimes failed and the locals who lived behind the ice belt in East Greenland didn´t know that the reason was excessive hunt for these animals by European ships just outside. They didn´t even know that there was another world out there. Similar thing is happening now when the polar bear population is possibly endangered on a global scale because of global warming and pollution even if the local management has been fully sustainable for hundreds of years. International environmental organizations have given Greenland a thumbs-up for their good management of the very limited polar bear hunt but still the hunters are not allowed to trade their products internationally and the meat is so full of chemicals from the industrial world that it is only safe to eat in small quantities. As of now the most endangered species seems to be the Greenlandic hunter himself.