|Father Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J.|
courtesy of Santa Cruz University.
Hubbards's King Island Expedition:In 1937 and 1938 Father Hubbard lived on King Island with his boats, dogs, expedition members, and more than 100 tons of supplies and equipment. During this expedition, he continued his glacier research and captured the King Island people on film. The King Islanders took him on a 2,000-mile open-water by umiak in his attempt to prove that the Eskimos, from Nome to Barter Island, shared a common language.
Hubbard's arrival on the Island had an impact on the community. Among his supplies were powerful electric generators and engines to power his moving picture equipment and light the hall he constructed to show his films, as well as to give power to other parts of the village. He constructed buildings for the villagers and introduced oil burning stoves to replace the dirtier and less efficient coal-burning units they had been using.
Hubbard made several long documentary films and took thousands of still pictures of almost every aspect of King Island life, including native funerals and the celebration dance of success at bear hunting. Bogojaviensky and Robert W. Fuller, who published a number of Hubbard's still photographs in 1973 in "Polar Beas, Walrus Hides, and Social Solidarity," praised their high quality. "The ethnographic and historical significance of these photographs is enormous––To our knowledge, there exists no comparable photographic record of an aboriginal sovereign state in all of Arctic ethnology."
Hubbard's stay on the island generated controversy. After his party left, Joseph McElmeel, the General Superior of the Alaska mission, wrote "Just at present Father Lafortune has the task of overcoming the bad influence of the Hubbard party on the island last winter. The seculars with Father Hubbard should never have been taken there. Father Hubbard has admitted to me that he can no longer control them as he used to. Even non-Catholics in Nome spoke to me about eh danger that the King Islanders would be affected by the stay of the Hubbard party. The too frequent moving pictures developed a craze for pictures in the Islanders. On their visit to Nome this summer it was observed by seculars that they were no longer as simple as they used to be. Father Hubbard is a hard-work man, but he should not be permitted to come to the missions with the type of men he brought this year." The accusations, however, apparently were not very serious because Hubbard and four others, including Edgar Levin, were welcomed back in the summer of 1940 for more photographic work, and to make further improvements to the village." Santa Clara University archives.
"One of the more colorful personalities of former years was Fr. Bernard Hubbard, S.J., the 'Glacier Priest.' He came to Santa Clara in 1926 and was assigned to teach mineralogy and geology but his heart was not in the classroom. It was in Alaska. There he explored volcanoes in the Aleutians and, for some months, lived among and studied the culture of the King Islanders. Each summer he enlisted a few friends to join him in these expeditions. Finally, in 1995 a stroke limited his activity but did not discourage him from his annual trip to AK. When at Santa Clara he spent his time editing films and preparing for his popular lecture tours.
Financial help came from his lectures, friends, and advertisements which he inserted in his motion pictures. Some advertisers also gave him fishing gear, rowboats, camping equipment, cameras, and film.
In some respects, he was like a little boy. He had a charm and an uncanny way of wresting permissions from his religious superiors. Because he didn't drive a car he appointed me to drive his Chrysler station wagon. Once we stopped at a fruit stand and he drank so much cider that he had to stay at home near a bathroom the next day. But once he decided to drive to the campus of Montezuma school in the Santa Cruz mountains. A 'No trespassing' sign was posted but he told me to ignore it. We were promptly stopped. To persuade the guard to allow us to enter, he informed him that he was Father Hubbard. The guard replied that he had never heard of him. We later enjoyed a good laugh and never allowed Father to forget this. Toward the end of his life, he received a Christmas card from a local mortician. He laughed and said: 'Those buzzards are really waiting for me!' Fr. Hubbard remains in my memory as a good friend, a unique personality and a man with an undying love for Alaska." Carl H. Hayn, S.J., Professor of Physics. 1962.
For further study, please see The Legacy of the "Glacier Priest," Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J. Scarborough, C.M. and D. Kingston. Santa Clara Univ. Dept of Anthropology and Sociology. 2001. LINK