Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the day explorers recorded reaching the North Pole. And yet, after a century, the issues about who reached the spot first remains a point of contention. Arctic explorer Robert Peary is usually credited with having reached the elusive spot on April 6, 1909. When he got there, he was accompanied by his long-time associate/partner, Matthew Henson, an African-American from Maryland.
The accomplishment met controversy from the beginning. When the team got back, they found that another explorer, Frederick Cook had already claimed the credit. However, since then, Cook's story has been discredited. Nevertheless, other questions persist.
An article published this week at The Root discusses how some evidence suggests that Henson, and not Peary, was technically the first to arrive at the pole. The two were traveling in separate dog sleds during their pursuit and taking turns forging ahead. Some claim Henson was there for 45 minutes before Peary arrived, and racism has obscured this feat.
Even if Henson were technically first, champions of Peary's cause could argue that Peary, as the leader of the expedition, deserves credit ...that is, if the Peary/Henson team got to the North Pole at all. The Washington Post had an interesting article yesterday about the lingering theory that Peary's expedition didn't make it. The article concludes suggesting we'll probably never know for sure.
Henson and Peary aside, the real outrage that no one is talking about is how the debate unfairly ignores the elusive natives who have lived in the North Pole for generations -- I speak, of course, of Santa and his elves.