On the Frozen Edge 🧊 of the World - The Design Alchemist
On the Frozen Edge 🧊 of the World - The Design Alchemist
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On the Frozen Edge 🧊 of the World

On the Frozen Edge of the World 🧊

As a global traveler, it seems as though the ecstatic experience I long for often appears when I am outside my comfort zone or embarking on something truly new. Not traveling much these days, I have been on the hunt for unique or sometimes little-known stories of travel, expeditions, and perseverance.

GIF Courtesy of, the Canadian Museum of History

Ada Blackjack’s story probably would not be defined as ecstatic, but it’s a story of unprecedented heroic experiences. A story to be shared of an Arctic Heroine

From atlasobscura.com, Ada Blackjack and her son, November 1923. TOPFOTO/ THE IMAGE WORKS

In 1921 Ada, a single mother, left her son Bennett to accompany an expedition team of gentlemen as their seamstress commissioned to sewing survival gear and clothing for her and the team. With dogs leading a part of the way, they departed Nome Alaska via ship en route to the Wrangle Islands, near Siberia. Ada’s son was very sick and for her to seek the best treatment, she had to make the terrifying decision to leave Bennett in the hands of an orphanage so that she could take work that would pay her handsomely, money she desperately needed for treatment to save her only son’s life.

From oceanwide-expeditions.com, Ada Blackjack: Forgotten Queen of Arctic Expeditions

Born in 1898 in Spruce Creek, Ada was raised as an Inupiat, without knowledge of hunting or wilderness survival. Instead, Ada was brought up by Methodist missionaries who had instructed women of her area with the tools of housekeeping, sewing, and cooking white-people food. These tools of the trade would grant Ada a passage to a new life, but a life which was met with insurmountable challenges.

A year after arriving to the Wrangle Isles game was plentiful and the hunting expedition measured as a success. Until the ship which was to retrieve them never returned (due to impenetrable ice). Food rations ran low and one of the lead explores, Knight, came down with scurvy and fell seriously ill. Ada was asked to stay to assist Knight as the other team members unleashed dog sleds to Siberia to fetch help.

For another year Ada cared for, hunted large game, and did the work of 4 men in the arctic wilderness. But after Knight passed, BlackJack was instantly isolated and alone in this unforgiving part of the world. What carried her through the 2+ years were thoughts of her son and a deep need to survive, overcoming self-doubt and fear.

Read more about The real-life of The Female Robinson Crusoe’s journey here after the jump.

Michelle Witherby
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