Morris K. Jesup, President of the American Museum of Natural History, sponsored the Jesup North Pacific Expedition (1897-1902). Franz Boas, the anthropologist who organized the expedition, described it as a means to prove whether the first people to reach the Americas had migrated across a land bridge over the frozen Bering Strait. By comparing objects, customs, and languages, expedition scientists hoped to reveal historical connections and relationships between the widely scattered peoples of the North Pacific region.

The expedition collected objects, stories, songs, physical measurements of people, observations of daily life, and more than 3,000 photographs believing that they were documenting a vanishing world. But the peoples of the Russian Far East survived and are today engaged in a process of cultural revival. AMNH has been sharing its valuable resources by hosting Native scholars, and sponsoring an international scholarly conference, making its collections available in CD format at local museums, and by sharing this exhibition in a box.

Waldemar Jochelson and his wife, Dina Brodsky, traveled on the Korkodon River in 1901. Local guides assisted the researchers in their travels between villages, using whatever transportation was available. For much of their winter travel, they depended on dog teams or rode on reindeer. In the warmer months they traveled on horseback and by river.