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Exhibits
Peary and the Inuit: Perspectives On Interactions
January 20, 1999 - May 16, 1999
The photographs in this exhibit come from albums owned by John Bartlett, captain of the vessels Kite and Hope. Bartlett sailed the Kite to Northwest Greenland in 1895 to bring Robert E. Peary home from the North, where he had been for two years. Peary chose him as captain of the Hope, which he chartered for summer voyages in 1896 and 1897, when he tried to transport large meteorites from Cape York, Greenland to New York. These photographs, taken by an unidentified photographer, document the final years of the 19th Century, as the Inuit of Northwest Greenland were becoming increasingly linked to the wider world.

Pictured above: West Greenland Children.
<p><b>A Witness to Change</b> </p>    Itcuchearkook, born on Baffin Island in the 1820s, witnessed the beginning of dramatic changes experienced by the Inuit. As a child, she may never have seen Europeans. As an adult, she probably came to rely on the metal, wood and other supplies explorers and whalers brought to trade. The Polar Inuit of Northwest Greenland experienced these changes even later, at the end of the 19th Century.  <br> <br>  Itcuchearkook (?) 70 years old, Black Lead Island, Canada.1895-1897. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.
<p><b>The Face of the Future</b> </p>    This Polar Inuit boy grew up in a world very different from the one his self-sufficient parents and grandparents knew. The changes began when Robert Peary’s expeditions  brought western-made goods to Northwest Greenland, and continued when Knud Rassumussen established the Thule trading station in 1910. Today, the Polar Inuit live in settled communities with many of the trappings of the modern world, from hospitals and schools to television and computers.  <br> <br>  Northwest Greenland. 1895-1897. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.

<p><b>Moving Supplies from the <em>Hope</em> to Shore</b> </p>    Between 1891 and 1909, Robert E. Peary was the most frequent traveler to Northwest Greenland, then one of the most remote communities in the world. He sailed north with many supplies from the United States. Some were for the use of the expedition, some were gifts, and some wer used in trade. It was during these years that the Polar Inuit began to rely on manufactured goods brought by visitors like Peary.   <br> <br>  Cape York, Northwest Greenland. 1896-97. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.
<p><b>Anniversary Lodge</b> </p>    From 1893 to 1895 Peary lived in this building, named to commemorate his wedding anniversary. In Northwest Greenland wood is a rare and valuable resource. The crates and structural wood, as well as the windows and other materials transported from the south, represented a potentially rich source of raw materials for local people. Sadly, the building was accidentally burned down shortly after Peary returned to the USA.  <br> <br>  Bowdoin Bay, Northwest Greenland. 1895. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.

<p><b>Arthur Moore in Eskimo Furs</b> </p>    Supplying his men with warm fur clothing was an essential part of Peary’s success. One of his first tasks when he arrived in the North was to find Inuit women who would sew fur clothing for his crew. He hired Inuit men to hunt, and teach the Americans how to drive dog teams. As payment, Peary gave the North Greenlanders useful goods from the south including steel needles, knives and wood.  <br> <br>  Aboard the <em>Hope</em>. 1897. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.
<p><b>Two West Greenland Pilots</b> </p>    Successful travel in the North also required the assistance of local people. Much of the Greenland coast was still uncharted in the 1890s. Shoals, boulder barriers, and a deeply indented coastline made it particularly hazardous for sailors unfamiliar with the waters. Local men acted as pilots, guiding ships into rocky harbors. These two men piloted Bartlett’s ship into the harbor at Holsteinborg (now Sisimiut).  <br> <br>  Off Holsteinborg, South Greenland. 1895-1897. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.

<p><b>Sukon, his Wife and Family</b> </p>    By the 1890s, many Polar Inuit families owned some southern goods, although they were far from dependant on them. This family wears traditional skin clothing and uses a skin tent like those made for centuries. Note the knitted sweater that hangs in the doorway of the tent and the metal bucket and wooden boxes on the ground in front of the tent.   <br> <br>  Northwest Greenland. 1895-1897. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.
<p><b>Returning Home</b> </p>    Eqariusaq, called 'Bill' by the Pearys, helped Josephine Peary look after her daughter Marie, born in Northwest Greenland in September of 1893. When Josephine returned to Philadelphia in the summer of 1894, she brought Bill with her. This is a photograph of Bill on her return to Greenland in the summer of 1895.   <br> <br>  Aboard the <em>Kite</em>. 1895. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.

<p><b>A Family Reunited</b> </p>    The first family member Bill saw on her return was her father, Nuktaq. Inuit culture teaches people to conceal strong emotions, so the Americans were surprised at the casual greetings father and daughter exchanged after her lengthy absence. Later, when they were alone, Bill talked to her father for hours about her remarkable experiences.  <br> <br>  Anniversary Lodge, Bowdoin Bay, Northwest Greenland. 1895. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.
<p><b>From Cape York to New York</b> </p>    In 1897 Peary brought six Polar Inuit to New York. Among them were members of Bill’s family including (l-r) her father, Nuktaq, his wife, Atangana and their daughter, Aviaq. On the far right is Uisaakassak, and in the back are Qisuk and his son, Minik. Their trip was a disaster; within 6 months all but Minik had died, probably from respiratory infections.   <br> <br>  Aboard the <em>Hope</em>. 1897. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.

<p><b>The <em>Hope</em> docked in New York City</b> </p>    The people of New York were eager to see the Polar Inuit, for they had read of them in popular books written by Peary and other explorers. When the Polar Inuit arrived in New York in September 1897 aboard the <em>Hope</em>, in a single day 20,000 people paid admission to see them. The group was given living space in the American Museum of Natural History, where they were visited by numerous newspaper reporters.   <br> <br>  New York City. October1897. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.
<p><b>Peary Photographing on Baffin Island</b> </p>    Although Peary’s main interest was exploration, he also collected anthropological information about the Inuit. As part of his research, he took many photographs of northern people. He published books and gave illustrated lectures about his travels, introducing Americans to the people of the High Arctic.  <br> <br>  Baffin Island. 1896. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.

<p><b>The meteorite <em>Ahnighito</em> being lowered into the hold of the <em>Hope</em> </b> </p>    In a remarkable feat of engineering, Peary transported three iron meteorites, including the 34-ton <em>Ahnighito</em>, from Northwest Greenland to New York. The Polar Inuit had used these meteorites as a source of iron to make knives for hundreds of years. Debate raged over whether Peary was depriving them of a vital resource, but by that time the Inuit regularly acquired iron through trade with him and other explorers rather than from the meteorites.   <br> <br>  Cape York, Northwest Greenland. 1987. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.
<p><b>West Greenland Children</b> </p>    Peary’s ships, like most others going to Northwest Greenland, often stopped in West Greenland for provisions, and to check in with government officials. There they met Inuit who had been in contact with Europeans for well over one hundred years. Unlike the Polar Inuit, these Greenlanders had ready access to imported goods and were familiar with the ways of the many travelers who came to their communities.  <br> <br>  West Greenland. 1895-97. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.

<p><b>Men and Women in West Greenland</b> </p>    Visits to ports in southern Greenland often included socializing between sailors and local people. The contrasting attitudes of the Euro-American men and Inuit women in this photograph show, however, that different ideas about appropriate social behavior was a cause for tension between the two groups. Inuit today maintain a distinct outlook on the world, as they did then, despite a long history of contact and increasing reliance on imported goods.  <br> <br>  West Greenland. 1895-97. The Stewart Collection of Capt. John Bartlett’s Photographs.