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Government was more fully awake than the rest of Europe to the potential
greatness of their Asiatic Empire. It was only natural therefore that
they should take interest in the theory of an Arctic continent. Their
traders listened carefully among the natives for legends about lands
beyond the northern frontier of Siberia; and what they listened for
they heard.

We now know that most of the natives of the north-eastern Siberia
and northern Alaska have the legend of a great land to the north from
each of these countries. The late Sire Clements Markham, then President
of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain, was much concerned
about these stories as recently as the beginning of my own Arctic work
(1906). The first Polar expedition of which I was a member ( commanded
by Leffingwell and Mikkelsen) was organized partly to test the view
which Sir Clements favored that the stories of land to the north of
Alaska were reliable. The results of the Leffingwell-Mikkelsen exped-
ition were negative. My own expedition of 1913-1918 proved that showed the "land
seen north of Alaskato be was imaginary.

The prehistoric Arctic trading center of Nijnei Kolymsk took on new
life with the increased Russian traffic of the early nineteenth century
and the natives of northeastern Siberia frequented it even more than
formerly. Some of these brought the story of an inhabited land to the
north of Cape Shelagskoi. Personally, I consider that this was only
the same sort of legend which we later disproved to the north of Alaska;
but since it happens that there is land, although uninhabited, northeast,
if not north, from Cape Shelagskoi it is possible to dispute indefinitely
as to whether the stories which the Russians picked up were partly fact
or simply wholly folk-lore.

However that be, the stories were taken for fact in Petrograd and
a young Lieutenant named Ferdinand Wrangell was employed by the Russian

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