Rasmussen Knud

(07.06.1879 - 12.21.1933)

 

Danish ethnographer, anthropologist and polar explorer.

Born in Greenland in Jacobshavn, in the family of a Danish priest Christian Rasmussen, who spent twenty-eight years on the island, and Louise Fleisher, whose mother was of Eskimo origin. Knud lived among the aborigines until he moved to Denmark, he learned their language perfectly and became akin to their way of life. “My fellow Greenlanders were my friends, from early childhood I played and worked with hunters, so even the most intense sledging trips were a pleasant routine for me”.

In 1891, his father received leave for one year, which the family spent in Denmark, where Knud began to study at the gymnasium. After the father’s leave, the Rasmussen family returned to Jacobshavn, and Knuda was left in the historic homeland to continue his studies, which were not easy, primarily because of problems with the Danish language, which he knew less than Eskimo. After graduating from high school in 1898, Rasmussen enrolled in Copenhagen University, where he studied philosophy, ethnography, history, and also listened to lectures on geography, geology, zoology, botany and other disciplines. In 1900, as a reviewer for Kristeligt Dagblad [da], Rasmussen accompanied the Danish journalist and writer Ludwig on a tour of Iceland. Mulius-Eriksen (with whom he became close friends), and next year he visited Swedish Lapland, where he studied the life and culture of Lapps. In 1908, Rasmussen published the results of his journey in the book "Lapland".

In 1902, Rasmussen set out on his first expedition to Greenland - the so-called “Literary Expedition” under the leadership of Ludwig Mulius-Eriksen. It was also attended by the Danish artist and writer Harald Moltke, the ornithologist and medic Alfred Berthelsen, and later joined the Greenland priest Jørgen Brenlund. The purpose of the expedition was to study the life and culture of the Greenland Eskimos, as well as to record their folklore. The expedition lasted until September 1904, its main tasks were completed. Travelers first worked in West Greenland, and then crossed the bay on ice on dogs. Melville and reached the land of the Eskimos Etah (Etah) - as Rasmussen called it - “The Kingdom of the North Wind”, and established contact with this northernmost people of Greenland. The reflection of the results of the expedition were the books of Rasmussen "New people" and "Under the blows of the north wind."

In 1905, Rasmussen, on behalf of the Danish government, explored opportunities for reindeer herding on the west coast of Greenland, and in 1906-1908 made another trip to the island, where he again studied the culture and way of life of the natives.

Back in 1905, Rasmussen learned that because of the ice situation, the whalers could not reach the strait Smith, with the result that the local population was deprived of essential goods. This prompted Rasmussen to the idea of ​​creating a trade mission. In 1910, with funds raised in advance in Denmark, he founded a trading post near Cape York on the coast of Melville Bay and named it Thule in honor of the legendary islands. Its existence was supposed to ease the plight of the indigenous people of Greenland. Faktoria bought up goods related to hunting, mainly arctic foxes, and sold weapons, fuel, food and other goods. Rasmussen led the trading post until his death. In 1920, the trading post was officially annexed to Denmark, and Rasmussen became the official representative of Denmark in Tula.

The trade mission organized by Rasmussen also served as the starting point for the seven polar expeditions organized by him, which were called “Tulessky”. They were undertaken in the period from 1912 to 1933 and covered the vast territories of Greenland and northern Canada, and also collected the most valuable scientific material on the geography and geology of these regions, the life and culture of Eskimo tribes from the Atlantic to the Pacific were studied.

 

Vestre Kirkegard Cemetery

The results of his research Rasmussen published in numerous books. In 1912 he became an honorary member of the American Geographical Society, and in 1924 he was awarded the Charles Delhi Medal. In 1923, the Royal geographic Society awarded him a gold medal. In 1924, the University of Copenhagen awarded Rasmussen an honorary doctorate.

Rasmussen died in Copenhagen from the effects of food poisoning (botulism), which occurred in Greenland after the completion of the Seventh Tules Expedition. He was buried in Copenhagen at the Vestre Kirkegard cemetery (Western cemetery).

In Greenland, in the house of Rasmussen, as well as in Danish Hunested, in the house in which Rasmussen lived and worked, museums were opened.

Region (Knud Rasmussen Land) in Northwest Greenland.

Cape (Euler Rasmussen) on the northeast coast of Greenland.

Bay in the north of Canada, southeast of King William Island.