Aka Simonsen - Historian, Archaeologist, Inuit Cultural Educator

Aka Simonsen

Historian, Archaeologist, Inuit Cultural Educator

Aka’s love for the Arctic manifests in her passions for communicating Arctic history, archaeology, culture, and nature.

Aka spends the winter months studying in front of her computer and books as a Ph.D. candidate in Culture and Social History at Ilisimatusarfik, University of Greenland. She is currently writing her thesis about stone chamber wolf, fox, and polar bear traps. Her research methods entangle traditional local knowledge with science, including ecology, biology, history, culture, and archaeology.

Her summers are spent at sea working on expedition ships, camping on the tundra as a tour leader, or doing archaeology field work research. When time allows, she loves reading expedition books with a critical eye, but also loves visiting places where historical expeditions have taken place.

Aka received the Society for American Archaeology´s Native American undergraduate student scholarship. She has also worked as a project assistant for a National Science Foundation project that engaged collaboration between locals and researchers on the history of changes in Inuit food habits, as a reflection of new technologies, imported foods, and the colonization of Greenland. This research was conducted primarily at the former Moravian mission station of Alluitsoq (Lichtenau), South Greenland. For Aka, it is important to take part in decolonizing science and changing the methods of doing research.

Aka holds a professional degree in tourism management and is Certified Arctic Guide from the business school at Qaqortoq, South Greenland. She also teaches tourism education and works as research assistant and guide at the National Museum and Archives.

Her upbringing in South Greenland’s outer fjords and her experience as a farmer on a subarctic island naturally taught her how to respect nature and live as sustainably as possible in the Arctic.

She is a descendent of hunters and farmers, as well as explorers—including the Danish lieutenant, explorer, and archaeologist Daniel Bruun and the catechist Hanseeraq, who went on Holms’ expedition to East Greenland from 1883-85.