Frederick Schwatka (1878 - 1880)

In 1878-80, Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka of the United States Army organized the last major expedition of the nineteenth century to search for evidence of Franklin's party. Sponsored by the American Geographical Society, Schwatka and four colleagues sailed to Hudson Bay in 1878. The following year, they departed on an overland trek from Wager Bay towards King William Island, accompanied by a substantial Inuit party that included Ipirvik, who had assisted Hall on both of his expeditions in search of Franklin. Overall, they travelled 5,232 kilometres on this epic overland journey. Schwatka and his colleagues visited all sites of Franklin evidence that had been reported in and around King William Island. They also identified a number of new sites, all located in the western and southern areas of King William Island, the Adelaide Peninsula, the area near the mouth of the Back River (known to the Inuit as Great Fish River) and O'Reilly Island. During his expedition Schwatka and colleagues interviewed many Inuit who had seen vestiges of Franklin's party and even recounted one or two direct encounters with the marooned British sailors. His comprehensive search filled in many details building upon the exploratory accounts of Rae, McClintock, and Hall.

Schwatka's expedition was remarkable for its reliance on Inuit knowledge and for its documentation of the contributions and lifeways of his Inuit guides. The documentation is contained in the narratives of the expedition published by Schwatka and William Gilder. As well, the German Heinrich Klutschak both published a narrative of the expedition in the German language and also served as the party's illustrator. His drawings of Netsilingmiut members of Schwatka's party, their dress, material culture and methods of travel bring to life the role of Inuit people in the Franklin search. Klutschak's map of the Franklin search area around King William island is also one the best visual aids to the sites of Franklin evidence and the possible route of the surface travels of Francis Crozier and the expedition's crew.

Sunken ship