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Erasmus York: First to Leave the Arctic

During Captain Horatio Austin's search for the lost Franklin Expedition in 1850-51, a young Inuit man initially known as "Erasmus York" or "Caloosa", was engaged as a guide.

After leading the searchers north to check on a rumored massacre of Franklin's men (which proved false), he stayed and wintered with the expedition. When the ship returned to England, he went with it.

He quickly learned to read and write, and became known as Erasmus Augustine Kallihirua (Qalasirssuaq is the Inuit spelling). In England, he helped in the preparation of a "Greenland-Eskimo Vocabulary for the Use of the Arctic Expeditions".

Kallihirua was one of the few Inuit to become internationally known in the 19th century, and he was probably the first to leave the Arctic. He adapted well and cheerfully to life in England and was much admired by those who knew him.

Upon seeing England for the first time, perhaps he should have adopted another British attitude - and claimed the land for the Inuit.

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Library: Inuit, Exploration
Franklin Expedition, Arctic
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