Rasmussen, Knud


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Danish explorer and ethnologist noted for his studies of Eskimo culture. Rasmussen, born in Greenland of part-Eskimo ancestry, was brought up to be fluent in the Eskimo language and familiar with their culture. After education in Denmark he returned to Greenland and was a member of a Danish expedition to the Thule district of Greenland (1902–04). In 1910 he established a trading post in Thule to provide Eskimos with goods and equipment in exchange for skins, carvings, and other items. Thule became the base for a series of expeditions. In 1912, Rasmussen led a team over the ice cap to Independence Fjord; in a later expedition in northern Greenland (1916–18), two of his companions perished. A visit to Angmagssalik on the eastern coast in 1919 gave Rasmussen the opportunity to study Eskimo folklore and formed the basis of his book, Myter og sagn fra Grønland (‘Myths and Legends from Greenland’; 3 vols, 1921–25). In 1921 he started a three-year study of Eskimo culture throughout the American Arctic, during which time he and two Eskimo companions travelled the breadth of the continent to Alaska, an expedition he described in Fra Grønland til Stillehavet (2 vols, 1925–26; translated as Across Arctic America, 1927).

From Who's Who in the Twentieth Century in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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