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Minik, the Lost Eskimo Minik, the Lost Eskimo home page

More About the Program Minik, the Lost Eskimo

enlarge Minik with the Wallace family, 1900.

Minik with the Wallace family, 1900. (Public Domain Image)

In October 1897, the renowned Arctic explorer Robert Peary returned to New York from his latest Greenland expedition. At the request of anthropologist Franz Boas, he brought with him five polar Eskimos for study at the American Museum of Natural History.

The embryonic science of anthropology regarded the Eskimos as a rare species, and their arrival in New York caused a sensation. Within months, however, four of the Eskimos had fallen sick and died, leaving a seven-year-old boy named Minik to fend for himself in a foreign land. Eventually adopted by a member of the Museum's staff, it was sixteen years before he was able to return to his native Greenland.

This American Experience production retraces Minik's life journey to provide a thought-provoking look at the intersection of race, culture and the nascent science of anthropology in America at the turn of the twentieth century.

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