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The Prize of the Pole

The Prize of the Pole

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This documentary combines biography and history as it accompanies the Inuit hunter Hivshu, a.k.a. Robert E. Peary II, on a quest to trace the story of his great grandfather and his other ancestors, including the Eskimo family the famous Arctic explorer brought back with him to New York as part of an exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in 1897.

THE PRIZE OF THE POLE uses archival footage, photos and audio recordings to chronicle Peary's exploration of the Arctic over more than twenty years and his still controversial 1909 claim to be the first man to reach the North Pole. The film also explores the activities of Peary and Franz Boas, the 'father' of American anthropology, who viewed the Eskimos as barbarians, as 'living fossils' for scientific study, focusing on the fate of the six Eskimos who traveled to New York with Peary, including the sole survivor, Minik, a six-year-old boy.

Peary's great-grandson meets with tribal elders in Greenland, who recount ancient stories of the Arctic explorer's extended expeditions, his fathering of two children with an Inuit woman, and the often unethical zeal with which he pursued his scientific interests in the region and its people. In New York he meets with officials at the American Museum of Natural History and The Explorers Club, and another of Peary's grandsons, who reveal more details about Peary's expeditions and the tragic fate of Minik.

Along the way Robert E. Peary II visits research libraries and other historical sites in an effort to learn the truth about mysteries surrounding the preservation of his ancestors' skeletons and brains. At the end of his own exploration, having discovered a darker side of his legendary great-grandfather, especially the human price that was paid for one man to realize his dream, Hivshu proudly reclaims his native name.

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