Knud Johan Victor Rasmussen

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Knud Johan Victor Rasmussen (June 7, 1879 – December 21, 1933) was a Greenlandic polar explorer and anthropologist. He has been called the "father of Eskimology"[1] and was the first to cross the Northwest Passage via dog sled.[2] He remains well known in Greenland, Denmark and among Canadian Inuit.[3]


Early years

Rasmussen was born in Ilulissat, Greenland, the son of a Danish missionary, the vicar Christian Rasmussen, and an Inuit- Danish mother, Lovise Rasmussen (née Fleischer). He had two siblings, including a brother, Peter Lim. Rasmussen spent his early years in Greenland among the Kalaallit (Inuit) where he learned from an early age to speak the language (Kalaallisut), hunt, drive dog sleds and live in harsh Arctic conditions. "My playmates were native Greenlanders; from the earliest boyhood I played and worked with the hunters, so even the hardships of the most strenuous sledge-trips became pleasant routine for me."[4] He was later educated in Lynge, North Zealand, Denmark. Between 1898 and 1900 he pursued an unsuccessful career as an actor and opera singer.[3][5]


He went on his first expedition in 1902–1904, known as The Danish Literary Expedition, with Jørgen Brønlund, Harald Moltke and Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen, to examine Inuit culture. After returning home he went on a lecture circuit and wrote The People of the Polar North (1908), a combination travel journal and scholarly account of Inuit folklore. In 1908, he married Dagmar Andersen.

In 1910, Rasmussen and friend Peter Freuchen established the Thule Trading Station at Cape York (Uummannaq), Greenland, as a trading base.[3] The name Thule was chosen because it was the most northernly trading post in the world, literally the "Ultima Thule".[4] Thule Trading Station became the home base for a series of seven expeditions, known as the Thule Expeditions, between 1912 and 1933.

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