An important figure for American history
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 05/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Peary is a Caucasian who wants to be the first to make it to the North Pole. He brings back six Inuits to NYC and only one, a boy named Minik, survives. Usually the American Experience series covers events or famous people. It's great that the series here covers a person most won't know, but should.
The work says that Minik was horrified to learn that after a sham burial, his father's skeleton was on display at a museum. I really wonder if his situation helped to get the Indian Repatriation Act passed decades later. When he returns to an Inuit tribe and feels neither American nor Inuit, I wonder if many of the Native American children forced to attend American private schools felt the same way. This work never connects Minik's troubles with those of many indigenous people in this nation. Perhaps these parallels are not made because some say Inuits should not be lumped with American Indians of the Lower 48.
On many occasions, living Native Americans are interviewed in documentaries were Native themes appear. The American Experiment installment on Buffalo Bill interviewed a living Lakota on how Sitting Bull and other Natives must have felt in Bill's traveling show. In the documentary "Grizzly Man," a Native man speaks about how Natives try to avoid grizzlies, rather than embrace them. This work had no Inuit scholar who, through research and not essentialism, could have connected the dots about Inuits of the time and their contact with Americans.
This documentary starts with Peary's contact with Minik, but it illustrates who their paths merged and briefly later came together. This work makes no mention of the African-American Arctic explorer Matthew Henson. This documentary never explains how Peary may have harmed this Black man as he also may have harmed Minik's Inuit relatives and peers. In the documentary that I saw on Henson, I thought it was suggested that Peary did reach the North Pole. However, this work says he flatly did not.
This work focused on a diverse individual. It covers fascinating issues at the crossroads of history, anthropology, ethnic studies, and more. I recommend this."