In September 1921, a young Inupiat woman named Ada Blackjack traveled to Wrangel Island, 200 miles off the Arctic Coast of Siberia, as a cook and seamstress, along with four professional explorers. The expedition did not go as planned. When a rescue ship finally broke through the ice two years later, she was the only survivor.
Diane Glancy discovered Blackjack’s diary in the Dartmouth archives and created a new narrative based on the historical record and her vision of this woman’s extraordinary life. She tells the story of a woman facing danger, loss, and unimaginable hardship, yet surviving against the odds where four “experts” could not. Beyond the expedition, the story examines Blackjack’s childhood experiences at an Indian residential school, her struggles as a mother and wife, and the faith that enabled her to survive alone on a remote island in the Arctic Sea.
Glancy’s creative telling of this heroic tale is a high mark in her award-winning hybrid investigations of suffering, identity, and Native American history.
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