"The "Karluk" had disappeared. Whether the vessel had freed itself from the ice and steamed eastward, or whether, still imprisoned, it had been carried by the ice westward, we could not know. In any case it was gone, leaving our hunting party of six men marooned on a sandy islet surrounded by thin ice and open water. The wind finally died away, in the calm air the water rapidly froze over again, and on September 30 we crossed with our two sleds to the mainland."
In 1913 a young ethnologist from New Zealand boarded a ship for the Arctic, beginning a personal journey that was to make Diamond Jenness one of the twentieth century's foremost authorities on Alaskan Eskimos. Jenness had been asked to join the Stefansson expedition, and his official duties were to collect ethnographic details on the Eskimos--their culture, technology, religion, and social organization. His account of the expedition was published as "People of the Twilight" in 1928, but Jenness also kept a diary of his three years among the Eskimos. He was eventually persuaded to publish it as "Dawn in Arctic Alaska."
Predating the genre of personal ethnographies that has become so popular and important today, Jenness's tales blend his keen observations of the Arctic and its people with his own reflections and sensory experiences. He expresses great adimiration for the customs and character of the Eskimos and great regret and disappointment over the destruction of their lifeway through contact with white men.
The Canadian anthropologist, Dr. Diamond Jenness, was commissioned in 1913 by the Stefansson Expedition to collect a complete ethnograph about the Eskimos of the Arctic region. As a participant-observer he had the opportunity to live with Eskimo families and record not only facts about food, house-building, economics, family structure, but opinions about interaction on a personal level. The myths and superstitions generated by the irregularities of nature; the introduction of Christian traits brought by the white man and their eventual fusion with native religion; recreation; how the Eskimos cope with boredom and time which invariably hang heavy in the Arctic- these are some of the problems which are discussed, sometimes in relationship to Dr. Jenness, and other times as peculiar to the culture. The ethnograph as a whole is devoid of a theoretical framework. Value judgments from a European perspective sometimes insinuate themselves into what is basically a descriptive body of data. While these two criticisms may be accepted in some anthropological circles, the neat and rather literary handling of a restricted subject may attract readers other than students of anthropology. (Kirkus Reviews)