"Lived 7 Years in Arctic," The Kansas City Times, 28 January 1922

Date28 January, 1922

ms numberStefansson Mss-91: Harold Noice Papers, Box 1, Folder 3

abstractCorrespondence, newspaper articles, and other material related to the ill-fated 1921 expedition to Wrangel Island.


Leaving Seattle In 1915 When He Was 19, Harold Noice Remained Away From Civilisation Until This Winter.
From the New York World.
Back from the solitude of the Arctic, Harold Noice, Seattle high school boy, who went north and became the protege of Stefansson, has returned home.
Seven years in the treeless wastes of Victoria Land and beyond, most of the time "on his own hook," have transformed the youth into a seasoned arctic explorer.
Part of the time he had for companions only Eskimos, whose language he has learned, whose habits he copied in modified form, and whose ethnological history he has pieced together as well as it can be done among a people who have handed down from generation to generation only a few folk songs, superstitions and primitive dances, along with language. Of traditions they have none. Nothing of legend has been passed down the ages by the natives of the bleak North to help white men trace their history. Eskimos care not a whit about ancestry. Improvident, primitive, their only concern is to have enough fish and caribou and seal oil on hand for the lean and frigid winter.
"But the Arctic has fascinated me," said the young explorer on his return to Seattle. "Mr. Stefansson has wired me, asking whether I would care to return to the North with him. I shall go back soon to carry on my work."
"How did you come to go North at 19, when most young men are busy playing football-and dancing?" he was asked.
"Well, I started out for adventure, but I was expecting something altogether different than I got. We went up originally to take motion pictures— or at least I thought so. I met a young fellow in Seattle who posed as a Harvard graduate about to make a picture expedition into Alaska to get motion picture films of the scenery, and he asked me to go along. I jumped at the chance, but when we got to Nome the man who had arranged the expedition failed to meet us with the camera equipment as scheduled.
"Capt. Louis Lane of the Polar Bear, on which I sailed, decided to sail up to Banks Land, north of Bailey Island and Cape Perry, and that summer (1915) we met Stefansson at Cape Kellett. He had been out of touch with the world for two years, and the outside world was beginning to fear something had happened to him. We found, however, that he was not in distress.
"When Stefansson asked me to join his expedition I was tickled to death. I had a chance to travel with a discoverer. We wintered at Cape Armstrong. It was my first winter in the Arctic, and it was a severe one.
"We made several trips that winter. I learned a lot from the famous explorer. He went out of his way to teach me some of the countless things he had learned in his long years of explorations in the Arctic and Antarctic.
"Occasionally we hunted seals for meat for the dogs. Seal meat, by the way, isn't what you’d call fine food, but we ate of it. Besides, any kind of fresh meat keeps away scurvy.
"Near Crown Prince Gustav Sea we found a nesting place of the Hutchings goose—the only nesting rendezvous any of us had ever seen in the Arctic. The birds were there by the thousands, and the eggs we pilfered from their nests proved an agreeable change in diet.
"We spent the summer of 1916 on an island where there was plenty of caribou, and we put up dried meat and fat. It was too warm to travel, as the ice was breaking up, and we made the most of the delay by storing up food.
"I built my first snow house that trip, Stefansson showing me how. Slabs of solid packed snow are cut out of a drift
with a knife and built up, each row set a little closer in and the pieces overlapped a bit.
"That winter we went to Winter Harbor, Melville Island, to a cache left by Captain Berneier, a French explorer who made an expedition for the Canadian government in 1908, and tripped back and forth to it, carrying supplies to Cape Grassy and 'New Land.'
"It is the ethics of the North that an explorer may take anything he needs from another party's cache—but only what he needs—nothing is to be wasted. Among the Eskimos the same ethics prevail. The natives leave something to recompense, as their caches are individually owned. We found ruins on Melville Island indicating a prehistoric people. There were arrow heads of stone and similar relics.
"On the east coast of Melville Island we found a large cache the explorers, Kellett and McClintoch, had made during their search for Sir John Franklin’s expedition about seventy years before.
"The cache was built of stone, square and four feet thick, and contained casks of fine knitted woolen clothing and provisions. Most of the food was in excellent condition. There were barrels of chocolate in perfect condition. The chocolate was in big thick slabs. There were currants there, too, in abundance, and you can’t realize how delicious they were. There were lots of empty bottles in the cache, indicating that some exploring party, coming on it, had had a jovial time.
"By the way, Stefansson never carried a drop of intoxicant, and we never encountered any in all our long stay in the North."
The lure of the Arctic caught Noice and he stayed on after Stefansson went south. Noice bought a ship and traveled with several white men and some Eskios.
"The winter of 1918-19,” he related, "I lived with Eskimos at Point Agiak, with not a white companion. I put up a deer skin tent, made a crude stovepipe, and built a house from wreckage. I spent the winter learning the language of the Eskimos and digging for specimens.
"We in the temperate zones consider the Eskimos so primitive that we never associate morals with them. Yet actually they are intensely religious, and observe all the 'taboos' imposed by their faith. At certain times they are not permitted to sew, there are food restrictions at other times, and, altogether, the Eskimo is kept busy fulfilling his religious obligations.
"When a native becomes ill he is 'out of luck.' 'Spirit men' are summoned to his bedside, as they believe sickness is caused by displeased spirits, and they summon up all the spirits possible in an effort to placate them and induce them to cure the victim of their wrath. Medicine is unknown, and the man or woman who gets well can thank a sturdy constitution after a seance with the 'spirit men,' who are very apt to drag him out of bed in their ministrations.
"The language of the Eskimo is interesting to the student. Seemingly cumbersome and long—the words often contain thirty, forty or fifty letters—the various terms are expressive, but if a few of the letters are disarranged or omitted in these long words the whole meaning is destroyed.”