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.

“King Island”

The island was once the winter home to over 200 Iñupiat (Alaskan Natives) who called themselves Aseuluk meaning “people of the sea” or Ukivokmiut (from Ukivok the village of King Island and ‘miut’ meaning “people of”).

In the mid 1900s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs closed the school on King Island and forcefully removed the children of Ukivok to go to school on mainland Alaska, leaving the elders and adults to gather the needed food for winter. Because the children were not on the island to help gather the needed food for winter, the adults and elders had no choice but to move to the mainland to make their living.

By 1970, all King Island natives had moved to mainland Alaska year-round. Even after the movement off the island, some King Islanders still return to gather subsistence foods such as walrus and seal. Although the King Islanders have moved off the island, they have kept a very distinct cultural identity, living a very similar life as they had on the island. In 2005 and 2006, the National Science Foundation funded a research project which brought a few King Island natives back to the island. Some participants had not been back to the island in 50 years. The King Island Community awaits the project’s results.

Colonialism has disrupted native cultures around the world.


An inuksuk, also called an inukhuk or inukshuk, is a stone cairn or landmark used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other indigenous people of North America (predominantly Northern Canada and the US state of Alaska).

Usage and structure

The most recognizable inuksuk are those that are “human shaped”, typically consisting of 2 base stones (legs), a pile of stones on top of the base with a large stone spanning across the pile and jutting out like arms or—as some have suggested—a Christian cross, and another small pile of stones on top. There is debate over whether or not this design developed before or after the arrival of European missionaries and colonists. However, there are also simpler inuksuk that can be a single upright stone, or a small pile of stones very similar to a cairn. In any case, it’s thought that, given the size of some of these constructions, that the building of an inuksuk was a communal effort.

Inuksuk vary widely in usage, and this is likely because the peoples lived (and still live) close to the Arctic Circle, which lacks natural landmarks, so it would only make sense that they would have to develop landmarks of their own in order to navigate, assign travel routes, signify safe camp sites, hunting grounds, fishing grounds, or demark a food cache. The Inupiat, for example, even used them as drift fences for hunting, and to assist in herding caribou.


The word inuksuk derives from two words, inuk meaning “person” and –suk which roughly means “substitute,” some combined it can be taken to literally mean “in human likeness.”  That said, it’s a word with many contexts, and in the context of seeing a literal inuksuk it takes on the addition meaning of “someone was here” or, perhaps more accurately given their usage “you are on the right path.”

Modern Incarnations and Historical Sites

The Inuksuk has become something of an official symbol of Canada in more modern times. Markers have been built throughout the country and used as logos for various events ranging from World Youth Day to The 1986 World Transportation Expo to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver. And several historical and modern inuksuk have been donated to other countries by Canada as a gesture of peace and friendship. And of course it is the main image on the provincial flag of Nunavut.

There is at least one major site of national historic value and importance in Canada where a collection of over 100 inuksuk located at Enukso Point on Baffin Island is federally protected as a Historic Site.

Anonymous said: Do you know of any reputable lists of Alaskan Native names? Preferrably Inupiat or Yupik, but other nations would be helpful too.

If anyone would like to be a resource for this anon on Inupiat or Yupik names, please respond to this post.

Thank you!


A FRIENDLY REMINDER: Please do not send us messages responding to this post. We cannot privately pass them along to the anon for obvious reasons. It is better to cut out the middle man and just reply to this post. 

Important note about the word "Eskimo"

Canadian and Greenlandic Inuits find the word “Eskimo” offensive.  Do not use the word “Eskimo” to mean and Inuit person from Canada or Greenland.

However, when you’re talking about Alaska Natives, it’s a little different.  "Eskimo" is used to mean a group of Indigenous peoples including Inupiat and Yupik.  The term is used because, while they are Native Americans, they aren’t “Indians” like Athabaskans are. Two different ethnicities. 

For example, I’m King Island Inupiaq.  I am an Inupiat Eskimo, not an Inupiat Indian.  Similarly a Yupik person may refer to themselves as a Yupik Eskimo, but never a Yupik Indian.  A person of Athabaskan descent might call themselves an Athabaskan Indian, but never an Athabaskan Eskimo.  And we’re all Alaska Natives.

In conclusion:

Eskimo =/= Inuit

Eskimo = Inupiat and Yupik

thank you for your time, good people of tumblr


under the cut, you will find a list of native american & first nations fcs ! you will also find info of which tribe/nation they’re affiliated with beside their names. i made this because representation is very important and i’d love to see more people use native fcs in their rps.

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