Monday, August 29, 2011

Flag of Easter Island & Greenland or rather Rapa Nui & Kalaallit Nunaat

Flag of Kalaallit Nunaat
Greenland is a part of Denmark
"SUN" like icon

There are two famous semi-autonomous 'nations' that strike similar colours from opposite ends of the earth on rival oceans. Alone in the South Eastern Pacific is the famous isle of Easter Island, and on the edges of the North Western Atlantic is the grand and vast isle of Greenland.

Both islands have recruited the colours red and white to symbolize their identity. The flag of Kalaallit Nunaat retains the national colours of Denmark - red and white. It is basically an off centered disc that has a counter charge on itself with the background. This design is intuitively reflective of the extreme solar shift between winter and summer. Much of Greenland has a single winter night that lasts three months while a single summer day can last three months. Greenland is home of the famous Midnight Sun in June and in the winter the High Noon Midday Moon.

Flag of Rapa Nui
Easter Island is a part of Chile
"MOON" like icon

At another end of the earth the colours of Rapa Nui echo of red and white. The background is white, and the crescent shaped emblem is a type of jewelry usually worn by women that is based upon the native canoe of Easter Islanders. This flag was formally adopted on May 6, 2006. Twenty one years earlier the flag of Greenland was adopted on June 21, 1985.

Example of a Rapa Nui Canoe Pendant

The histories of Easter Island and Greenland and long and vast, but their unbroken modern period of written history begins at about the same time. On July 3, 1721 the Norwegian Hans Egede landed on Greenland to reestablish a 300 year old land claim. Less than a year later on Eastern Sunday April 5, 1722 the Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen awoke the world to Easter Island while Rapa Nui was awoken to the greater world around themselves.

Greenland Children with flag

However neither the Dutch nor Norwegian were to hold a permanent claim to these ancient isles of extremes. Before the 1800s the nationhood of Greenland and Easter Island was not certain. In the end Denmark and Chile were entrusted to guard over these pearls of the Pacific and Atlantic. Easter Island was annexed by Chile on September 9, 1888, and Greenland's attachment to Denmark was sealed in the 1814 treaty of Kiel.

Easter Islanders in protest with flags

US interest in these islands started only after WWII. Greenland was occupied by USA during WWII when Denmark fell to Nazi Germany. In 1946 Greenland flirted with US to become a proverbial 51st state, for 100 million dollars. But Denmark refused, but the Danes allowed the US to establish Thule Air Base as a part of AFSC - short for Air Force Space Command. Coincidentally Easter Island was graced by the space age in the 1980s. Easter Island became an emergency Space Shuttle Landing site.

The Inuit and Rapa Nui people are ancient cousins on a world that is a world a part. They have both left memorable marks on these islands and our world. They have enchanting stories to tell. No doubt their story of survival before the modern era is an epic chapter our communal heritage and history that all nations can understand.

As we come face to face with resource limited world, perhaps these islands can teach us a thing or two.

Two world famous stone monoliths
The Moai of Easter Island and Inuksuk of Greenaland

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