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Americans and Inuit in the High Arctic

Americans and Inuit in the High Arctic

(p.77) 3 Americans and Inuit in the High Arctic
Do You See Ice?
Karen Routledge
University of Chicago Press

Polar expeditions, particularly catastrophic ones, came to dominate outsiders' conceptions of the Arctic in the nineteenth century--but they represented only a very small slice of human experience in Inuit territories, and often occurred in places that were remote even to Inuit. This chapter considers what is lost by focusing on these horror stories, and what they can tell us about home, by considering the United States government Lady Franklin Bay expedition from 1881-1884 in relation to previous chapters. The author focuses on two low-ranking expedition members who starved: Jens Edvard Angutisiak from West Greenland and Sergeant Hampden Gardiner from Philadelphia. Both Angutisiak and Gardiner were far from their homes, but they did not have the same fears and dreams on the expedition. Nor did they have the same opportunities to try to recreate some sense of home and comfort. They did not live and die on equal terms. Gardiner and Angutisiak’s recorded opinions and actions make clear that there is no universal way to react to an unfamiliar environment, and they show how much human relationships and power dynamics affect our experience of place. This chapter is structured around the appearance and disappearance of the sun in the High Arctic.

Keywords:   Lady Franklin Bay, Greely, polar, Ellesmere Island, Fort Conger, Gardiner, Jens Edvard, Angutisiak, sun, starvation

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