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From Greenland to Alaska: Retracing the 5th Thule Expedition


Knud Johan Victor Rasmussen (1879 – 1933) was a Greenlandic/Danish polar explorer and anthropologist. He has been called the "father of Eskimology" and was the first European to cross the Northwest Passage via dog sled.

Rasmussen's "greatest achievement" was the massive Fifth Thule Expedition (1921–1924) which was designed to "attack the great primary problem of the origin of the Eskimo race."

A ten volume account (The Fifth Thule Expedition 1921-1924 (1946)) of ethnographic, archaeological and biological data was collected. 

Rasmussen and his team first went to eastern Arctic Canada where they began collecting specimens, taking interviews and excavating sites. Rasmussen left the team and traveled for 16 months with two Inuit hunters by dog-sled across North America to Nome, Alaska. His journey is recounted in Across Arctic America (1927), considered today a classic of polar expedition literature. The nearly 20,000 mile trek is considered to be one of the most impressive arctic expeditions in history.

Thule Centennial Project: In the Footsteps of Rasmussen

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 5th Thule Expedition, a team led by Jason Matthews (National Geographic Society/ Naturalist & Environmental Educator) is embarking on a series of expeditions by dog sled, kayak, snow machine, and overland vehicle retracing much of Rasmussen's travels to document the current culture, wildlife and climate of the region. Throughout the expeditions the team will be sharing information, photos and videos from their travels. Stay tuned as this website will be regularly updated.

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