Where is the body of John Franklin? An Inuit historian is convinced he knows

GJOA HAVEN , Nunavut — The man who guided searchers to the wreck of ’s flagship may have one more surprise left up his parka sleeve.

“I believe that is in a vault on King William Island,” says Louie Kamookak, an Inuit who has spent 30 years correlating stories collected from elders with European logbooks and journals.

The mystery that surrounds the Franklin Expedition is one of the great legends of Arctic exploration. The ships Erebus and Terror set out from in 1845 with 129 men to search for , but they never returned.

Little by little, the Franklin story is coming together.

Guardian Raymond walks on the barren terrain at Davit camp on Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, on Friday September 1, 2017.

Artifacts and graves found thoughout the 19th and 20th centuries were joined by several more bodies discovered in the 1980s. The ships were found in 2014 and 2016.

But where is the grave of John Franklin?

Guardian Raymond Niaqunnuaq keeps watch at Davit camp on Island near Gjoa , on Friday September 1, 2017.

Kamookak relates two stories passed down through generations that may offer tantalizing clues.

“One group of Inuit said they saw a burial of a great chief under the ground, under stone.”

This was remarkable for the hunters, as Inuit traditionally buried their dead on the surface, wrapped in caribou skins and under a cairn. They investigated the site, expecting to find something similar. All they found was a flat stone.

“They said he was a great shaman who turned to stone,” says Kamookak.

In another account, a group of travelling Inuit came across a large wooden structure.

Undated handout photo of Sir John Franklin, Arctic Explorer

“They managed to get a cross piece they took for a sled. The man who was telling the story said there was a flat stone and he could tell the stone was hollow.”

Given that other expedition graves have been found on land, Kamookak believes Franklin’s is there too.

“I don’t think they would have an ocean burial for him.”

If he’s right, Franklin is probably still lying beneath the tundra on King William Island’s rocky and windswept northeast coast.

If he’s wrong, chalk up one more mystery in a tale that’s been generating questions for 170 years.

A cargo ship sits in the bay at Cambridge Bay Nunavut, on Saturday September 2, 2017.

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