Be forewarned: there is no tune in this rambling, tho' maybe there could be...
Ah, we do wander, don't we... This is a spin-off from Bob Dylan's Dream. I MUST comment!!
Art, If you are not the wise man on top of the mountain, please tell us now!! I for one, am continually amazed! If you are, please sir, what is the meaning of life?!! It's natural osmosis??
The mental deterioration of the Franklin crew which was caused by the lead, was the main factor in the men's demise. Scurvy, and in fact, poor nutrition (and starvation because of lack of knowledge) in general also played a role. Also listed as a major player is the cold, and the explorers' (many groups, not just Franklin's) lack of knowledge and respect for it.
What hit my trigger was the comment of starvation and the survival skills of the Eskimo: They were observed by Eskimos as they walked along dying one by one ("Only the Eskimo in his skin canoe"etc.) but the Eskimos had enough trouble themselves surviving the winter and did not have the resources to help a group of dying men."
There are many misconceptions of our planet's indigenous people. Many Canadian (north american) tribes are still misunderstood because we (the rest of us Canadians) don't take the time to ask questions and try to understand.
FIRST OFF: The Eskimo of the North, prior to white influence lived in an extremely-well structured community. Among the "rules" or unspoken laws, was the consensus that no one owned anything. If you wanted your neighbour's whatever, you took it and used it and 'put the damn thing away when you were done with it'. (Sounds like your wife nattering, huh!!)
This was also true with food sources. Ownership was communal, not individual. The Eskimo were nomadic and followed their food sources and there is no evidence of massive survival problems before the 1870's. A tip for folk wandering away from their homes: Pay attention to what the locals are doing. They've ironed the wrinkles out several hundred years before your lightbulb went off.
Massive starvation among local populations became commonplace AFTER the area was infiltrated by outsiders. This change occured with little, if any resistance, from the Eskimo; protecting property was not a familiar concept. The expeditions was in the 1840's. Destruction of both land and sea hunting grounds start to appear in the histories somewhere around the 1870's:
Starvation: "Genocide can be practiced in a wide variety of ways." -Mowat forward
"The old framework of their life, already cracked, began to crumble and they began to build a new structure, a slipshod, jerry-build affair whose foundation rested uneasily upon a wildly fluctuating factor--the value and abundance of the white fox. They began to spend much of their time in the hunt for foxes. The locations of good trapping areas and proximity to the nearest trading posts came more and more to determine the places where they chose to live. They obtained rifles and almost limitless supplies of ammunition in exchange for foxes, and for a time this mighty increase in their ability to kill the deer--even at poor hunting places--compensated for their abandonment of the old camp sites at the main deer crossings, and of their old ways which had been determined by the ways of the deer. But the very efficacy of the rifle was also its most evil attribute. To a people who had known no other restrictions on their hunting than those imposed by the nature of their crude weapons, the thought that it might be possible to kill too many deer did not occur.
****** There is evidence that some of the crew survived and lived with the locals:
http://www.vif.com/users/inularit.resolute/ is a neat site! IN 1848 WHERE DID THE SHIPS GO? EYES FROM URQSURTUQ SPEAK
Also worth checking out: http://www.ric.edu/rpotter/SJFranklin.html
"The document was signed by Captains Crozier and Fitzjames, and the former, after his signature, appended a brief and tantalizing line: "and start tomorrow, 26th, for Backs Fish River." ... It was assumed that their goal was the Hudson's Bay Company outpost on the Great Slave Lake; the fact that this would require hundreds of miles of rowing, portaging, and hauling ungainly whaleboats upriver was simply taken as evidence that Crozier and Fitzjames were addled by scurvy or lead-poisoning and in their demented state imagined such a plan could meet with success.
Woodman has always been skeptical of this claim, and rightly so; he does not accept the premise that the officers were demented, or idiots, and he places great trust in the reliability of Inuit accounts which suggest a very different reading of the evidence. He believes that the goal of reaching the Fish River was more likely to hunt the game which was reported to be abundant in the area or to contact the Inuit who were known to congregate there. He argues that one or both of Franklin's ships were later re-manned; one almost certainly was, as it was discovered by a coastal band of Inuit anchored off an island far to the south in Queen Maud Gulf. Furthermore, while those who remained on King William Island eventually starved to death (not before resorting to cannibalism, an Inuit observation verified by recent forensic evidence), the crew of the surviving ship evidently remained through an additional winter (the Inuit reported that the ship was housed-in as for winter quarters, and its gang-plank was lowered), and some number of survivors left her and made one final attempt to reach a British outpost.
Thus far the argument is pursued in Unravelling. In Strangers Among Us, Woodman follows the trail of these last survivors through the detailed, though tantalizingly incomplete testimony of Inuit witnesses, most of them interviewed in the 1860's by Charles Francis Hall, the first and most persistent amateur to follow Franklin's trail. Hall spent six years in the Arctic interviewing everyone who had the least information to offer, and revisiting some of the sites himself. Some of Hall's testimony--in particular an account of an encounter between four Inuit hunters and a party of the land-based portion of the Expedition--has been incorporated into the standard histories. Others of his tales, such as the claim that three or four survivors were rescued and nursed back to health by a Netsilik hunter, or that some survivors were seen as far away as the Melville Peninsula, have been largely ignored.
Ok, done rambling... Sheye