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Ada Blackjack: A Survivor of a Harrowing Arctic Expedition Who Should Not Be Forgotten

Woman’s harrowing tale in the Arctic. Ada Blackjack, a native of Alaska, became the sole survivor of a polar expedition to Wrangel Island in 1921. Despite having no survival skills, she bravely withstood the harsh conditions of the far north in a desperate effort to earn money for her son’s tuberculosis treatment. Her resilience and ability to overcome numerous challenges, including learning to catch small animals and build shelter, led to her survival over a two-year period.

Born in 1898 in an Iñupiat settlement in Spruce Creek, Alaska, Ada Blackjack’s early life was marked by hardship following her father’s death at a young age. She married at 16 and had three children before her abusive husband abandoned the family. Dire straits led her to join an expedition to Wrangel Island organized by Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson in search of better prospects. However, the expedition was ill-prepared and the men accompanying her did not survive.

After several years of hardship in the Arctic, Blackjack eventually returned to Alaska, where she reunited with her son. However, her troubles continued, with difficulties in receiving her promised wages from the expedition and being manipulated into sharing her story. Despite the challenges she faced, she was heralded as a hero, eventually falling into poverty before her death in 1983 at the age of 85.

Blackjack’s remarkable story of survival against all odds serves as a testament to the resilience and courage of a woman who, in the face of overwhelming adversity, refused to give up hope. Her legacy as the unsung heroine of the Arctic is remembered to this day and serves as an inspiration to all those who face seemingly insurmountable challenges.

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