Stefansson and the Canadian Arctic by Richard J. Diubaldo

By Richard J. Diubaldo

Stefansson's contributions to arctic exploration are massive. He came upon a number of the world's final significant land plenty within the Arctic and his hydrographic soundings defined, for the 1st time, the continental shelf from Alaska to Prince Patrick Island and published the submarine mountains and valleys underneath the Beaufort Sea. whereas within the Arctic he lived with the Inuit, studying their behavior and language, and saved an in depth list of early Inuit society. in spite of the fact that, a few of Stefansson's deeds, and the reasons in the back of them, garnered much less acclaim. in a single example Stefansson used to be accused of leaving behind send previous to the send used to be overwhelmed within the ice, a heinous act for the chief of an day trip. On one other social gathering, following a disastrous day trip to Wrangel Island in which nice numbers of the occasion died, Stefansson was once accused of intentionally deceptive participants of the day trip and mendacity concerning the perils that confronted them. The affair triggered Canada to turn into embroiled with the us and the Soviet Union, and lots of argued that Stefansson was once extra excited by own reputation and monetary achieve than people's lives. used to be Stefansson a prophet or a profiteer, a sufferer or a villain? Stefansson and the Canadian Arctic finds the reality approximately this attention-grabbing personality.

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Since the coming of the whalers and the trappings of civilization in 1889, Eskimos of that locality had become extremely dependent on southern goods,19 particularly foodstuffs. In 1906, however, owing to the non-arrival of the supply tenders, the natives were forced to revert to their traditional hunting practices and diet. Stefansson was able to observe them under conditions approaching their "natural" state. It was an exciting opportunity, for living with them was much better from an ethnological point of view than merely living amongst them, as other white men had done.

Although receiving the same pay, the Indian always shirked his duties, whined, and complained even of light work he had to do. Besides, he was frivolous—something the budding explorer could not tolerate. Yet, despite his obvious inadequacies, the Indian remained haughty and aloof when he had no right to be so. "57 They were far from being uncivilized or savage; they had been able to adapt to their relatively hostile environment and to Stefansson "adaptability" along with industry and inventiveness, which the Eskimo displayed, were important hallmarks of progress and civilization.

In the fourteenth century, contact between the European and the native population, the Eskimo, or Skraelinger, increased and this was followed by hostilities, burning, looting, and kidnapping on the part of the Eskimos who were expanding southward. 15 16 CHAPTER TWO It was popularly believed that the remaining Icelandic colony in Greenland eventually had forsaken its true faith and mode of living, and had assimilated with the Skraelinger. 2 At the time, he placed little value on the article, but his later findings in the Canadian north were to be strongly coloured by what he had learned about the mystery of the Greenland colony's disappearance.

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