Ada Blackjack: the real Robinson Crusoe
An Alaskan Inupiat woman named Ada Blackjack was hired in 1921 as a cook and seamstress, to go on an expedition to Russia’s Wrangel Island, north of Siberia. The hope was to claim it for Canada. Four men plus Ada set out. And they reached the island! Unfortunately, the expedition was poorly planned. They soon ran out of rations and were unable to trap enough animals to eat. So, on January 28th, 1923 three men decided to try crosssing 700 miles across the frozen Chukchi Sea to Siberia for help and food. The left behind Ada and one other man who was sick with scurvey. She cared for him until he died, and then Ada was left alone, on a Siberian island, with just the expedition’s cat, Vic.
The three men were never heard from again. But Ada survived. She learned to live in the extreme freezing conditions for seven months! Ada was rescued on August 19th, 1923 by a former colleague of the expedition’s leader. She made no money on the subsequent publicity and books, just her pay for the expedition and a couple hundred dollars from the furs she trapped while on the island. Ada returned to Alaska and lived there till her death at the age of 85.