A meteorite in Greenland: Exploration, exploitation, and knives from space

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Robert Peary and the Ahnighito meteorite fragment in 1897.
Robert Peary and the Ahnighito meteorite fragment in 1897.

Thousands of years ago, an iron meteoroid seared through the Earth’s atmosphere and split into eight or more massive fragments over Greenland. The Innaanganeq meteorite — also known as the Cape York meteorite — is one of the largest known iron rocks to have fallen from the sky.

For years, its fragments were used for toolmaking by the Inughuit that inhabited northwestern Greenland. In other words: Inughuit people used space knives.

This fact, featured in a viral Reddit post on r/todayilearned, spurred an Endless Thread deep dive into the forgotten history of this meteorite — one that revealed a story of American exploration and exploitation abroad.

Show notes

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Full Transcript:

This content was originally created for audio. The transcript has been edited from our original script for clarity. Heads up that some elements (i.e. music, sound effects, tone) are harder to translate to text. 

Ben Brock Johnson: This is a story about the ancient. The present. And about learning to forget the difference between the two. But it starts and ends with this man.

Hivshu:  I was born in a little village — the last village you meet before the North Pole. There used to be about 70 people. When I grew up, the time didn't exist, the distance didn't exist. Everything was harmonized.

Amory Sivertson: This man is a shaman. If you can find this shaman — after searching for a long time — he will meet you on Zoom.

Ben: Can you tell me what's on the wall behind you?

Hivshu: Drums.

Ben: What kind of drums?

Hivshu:  They are Inughuit drums, all of them.

Ben: This shaman talking to us on Zoom wasn’t always a shaman.

Hivshu: I used to be a hunter at home among my people. Inughuit. And there, I got the stories and songs from the elders.

Amory: Hunter, shaman, singer. Who goes by Hivshu. But...

Hivshu: It's not that important, who I am. I cannot even mention my own name, because if I do that, then the demons will attack me. Let the others mention your name because you are not that important to mention your own name. Just be part of everything, be invisible, just do your work.

Ben: This work for Hivshu today is maybe helping us understand the work of an Inughuit shaman. And the way of life of his people from northern Greenland. A nation not officially recognized by the Greenlandic government. But, Hivshu says, a nation nonetheless.

Hivshu: We hunt in the wintertime, in dark time and then we go further out to where the walruses are living and eating. We hunt them in traditional ways with harpoon. Because if you use a rifle, they sink like a stone.

Amory: Hivshu’s describing a way of life that is pretty ancient. And different in how people think about some basic concepts we often don’t really consider in the super-modern world.

Hivshu: There were no distances. There were no time existing. Because we are living really far north. We have a different language than Greenlandic and different culture, if you must say that. The culture is manmade. That's why we don't call our way of life “culture.” We call it life within nature.

Ben: Hivshu describes the purpose of shaman Inughuits this way.

Hivshu: They were put by our ancestors to the Earth to serve. The grandmothers and grandfathers, which means the people who are living in this, you call heaven.

Amory: Hivshu says the grandmothers and grandfathers are what we call gods –ancestors living outside our world. And when we die, we join them.

Hivshu: And then, we view our way of life on the Earth to understand what we were doing wrong.

Amory: And we can come back to try again.

Hivshu: Could be the same time. Or different time.

Ben: Shamans are go-betweens. Sent back from that world to our world. To help us understand. And remember.

Hivshu: Because we are living the life on the Earth with this physical body with no memory, in amnesia. So, we forgot everything. 

Ben: One of the things we forgot?

Hivshu: Our ancestors who were actually — we don't call it "created" the Earth, but they fixed the Earth. So it could be habitable. And there they made a kind of a garden so we could take care of the garden.

Amory: From when he was born until when he was nine years old, Hivshu was taking care of the garden. The cold part. In northwestern Greenland. In a village whose name translates to "little sand."

Hivshu: Because it has a little sand on the beach in summertime, you see. Hmm. And usually it's not like that all over, because mostly they're stones and rocks. And so they called it Hiurapaluk.

Ben: Hiurapaluk. This is a place that, in the winter, has no sun for almost three months straight. A place Hivshu knows well, even in the dark. The stories and songs of Hivshu’s elders carry all kinds of information: Where things are; what they mean; how they’re used.

Amory: There is one place way up here in the Arctic that Hivshu knows well. A place known even by his great-grandfather. A place with some unusual looking residents. Massive alien residents. Sticking out from the ice and snow.

Hivshu: It was our ancestors who left us the excrement of the stars.

Ben: You call it the excrement of the stars. Is that what you said?

Hivshu: Yes, yes. 

Ben: Is there an Inughuit word for that?

Hivshu: Yes. [Speaking Inuktun.] 

Amory: Meteorite fragments. Huge, exploded, car-sized chunks of alien rock that broke up in the atmosphere and embedded themselves into the frozen coastline of northern Greenland thousands, maybe 10,000 years ago.

Ben: Strange looking metallic hulks that Hivshu’s earth ancestors encountered in their nomadic travels across thousands of miles of tundra and were compelled to set up camp nearby to harvest by hand in forty-degree-below weather. Cracking it in the cold with stones, fashioning it into knives, lances, arrowheads of meteoric iron that would travel trade routes of the Inuits and Vikings. From northern Canada to a Norse farm.

Meteorites that would go all the way to New York City and Copenhagen and tell a story of exploration, exploitation, and extraction.

Amory: I’m Amory Sivertson

Ben: I’m Ben Brock Johnson. And you’re listening to Endless Thread.

Amory: We’re coming to you from WBUR…Boston’s NPR station.

Ben: Today’s episode: "The Excrement of the Stars."

Amory: Ben, this story came from you.

Ben: It’s one of those stories that I’ve been telling people over and over since I found a Today I Learned post on Reddit in late 2020. There are all these comments on the post talking about the story and about how Egyptians used meteoric iron…and I’ve just been obsessed with this. And, you know, the way I’ve been telling this story is, “Ancient people used space rocks from space like, stuck in the planet and then people found them and were like 'these are alien crazy looking rocks from space, maybe we can make something out of it' and then they like made tools out of it." And then, for some reason, this story is awesome to me. I don’t know why. Does that make sense?

Amory: It’s very Ben, which is appropriate because we are going to dig more into this. But back to that Today I Learned. That TIL did not have quite the same zest that your delivery just had. It said, “Today I learned that Inuit in northern Greenland were using iron blades for centuries without knowledge of metallurgy. They made them by breaking pieces off of a huge iron meteorite and shaping them with heavy stones. They built their settlements close to the meteorite and used its iron for generations.” Metallurgy? I have issues with the word “Metallurgy.”

Ben: Really?

Amory: It’s just that I prefer your…

Ben: "Space rocks!"

Amory: ...Your joie de vivre for “space rocks!”

Ben: Yeah that’s fair. But we did want to learn more beyond just me just yelling about space rocks. So we got some help from our crack production team in learning more about this space-rock history. And it turns out this is a really complicated story.

Amory: One that goes way beyond a paragraph posted on the internet. So we’re going to get more help in telling it.

Minik Rosing: So I'm Minik Rosing and I am from— I work at the University of Copenhagen and I am originally from Greenland.

Ben: Minik has a relationship with our Greenland meteorites that, like Hivshu’s, transcends the kind of time and space scales that a lot of us are dealing with in our day to day.

Minik: I'm a geologist and I work on— my main research topic is the origin of life. And that's where meteorites come into the picture because they are really important for our understanding of Earth.

Amory: Important not just because some scientists think that meteorites actually brought the essential ingredients for life to earth…but because the way that we know how old our planet and the rest of the solar system is…is by looking at radioactive isotopes inside of meteorites.

Ben: Meteorites are a key part of how we measure the passage of time…on earth and in space. Because this excrement of stars…has been around for a while.

Minik: They were shooting stars, you know, in one part of the life. They had been sitting between Mars and Jupiter, doing nothing for more than 4.5 billion years. And some perturbation in the solar system made them start traveling towards Earth. 

Ben: Minik says this solar system perturbation, disturbance, whatever it was, happened recently.

Minik: They fell to Earth within, you know, over the past few thousand years. These bits. But they represent the period from the infancy of Earth. So, you can say they both are representing the beginning of the history of Earth and, if not the end, at least the most recent development.

Amory: Ancient travelers…but recent arrivals to our planet. A swarm of them that exploded in our sky and got their odd exterior shape — a smooth, scalloped, almost liquified looking surface — by burning up in our atmosphere.

Ben: A few of the big chunks, thousands of pounds, lodged themselves in northern Greenland. Researchers don’t actually know how long they've been there. The best guesses are that it arrived somewhere between a few and 10,000 years ago.

Minik: Yeah, it would have been quite similar to now. You know, the past 10,000 years is the period of Earth history where we actually have had a very stable climate, which we are now about to upset. But there were no humans there. Humans reached Greenland about 4,500 years ago. So it was a world with no humans. Seals, walruses, narwhals, maybe the occasional musk ox and reindeer.

Amory: When the Inuit arrived…they came across the ice from what is now Northern Canada.

Minik: There's something interesting: The Inuit language doesn't have the concept of migration — or immigration, anyway. So, when they arrived to Greenland, it was no different from any other place of the Canadian Arctic they had already been to. So, they came into Greenland and they spread along the coast — the east and the west coast of Greenland.

Ben: And this is how Inughuit people became distinct from Inuit people. Inughuits were "arctic highlanders" in a specific area of northern Greenland, as opposed to the larger population of Inuits, whose population stretches from northern Canada, Alaska, and Greenland. Recent population estimates of Inughuits put them at about 800 total. They had their own dialect.

We can’t know when for sure people discovered the meteorite. But it would have been very strange looking–different than most any other kind of rocks or stone in the landscape. On the outside it would have looked rusty. Because it was full of meteoric iron.

Minik: Iron does not exist as a metal in nature.

Ben: So does that mean that iron is effectively like an alien material?

Minik:  Absolutely. Absolutely.

Amory: We don’t know how Inughuit communities near the meteorite knew it was useful. Maybe they’d seen it before.

Ben: Maybe Hivshu would say a shaman helped someone break through their amnesia. But Inughuits started to engage in what is called cold forging.

Amory: Hitting the massive meteorite with more common rocks and breaking into it. It was difficult…because the iron…while breakable in the cold temperatures…was the hardest metal around.

Minik: You know, take a big rock, and you do a lot of sweating for many, many hours.

Ben: I was going to say that sounds like a lot of work.

Minik: It's a terrible amount of work, so it must have been very precious for anyone to invest this amount of effort.

Ben: If it looked like a weird, smooth pile of rusty junk on the outside. On the inside, the meteorite looked precious for sure. Full of beautiful, geometric patterns. It was the stuff on the ground though, the broken off stuff, that was really useful.

Minik: The place where the meteorite was found is called Savissivik, which means "the place where there's knife material." So, they were probably pretty happy and said, "Wow, this is a big bounty of metal here that we can start to exploit."

Amory: The communities of Inughuit that found this bounty…set up shop…literally. Wood was extremely scarce, and iron was basically unheard of. You could use it to kill animals faster, it would stay sharp. It cut pelts faster. The space rocks embedded in the earth along the northwestern coastline became a regular stop in their patterns of life.

Minik: So, it's a little bit like, you know, if you go—

Ben: To the grocery store.

Minik: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, you know, where the gas station is, go to the grocery store and all that. So—

Ben: So, is this like the hardware store?

Minik: Yeah, you could say so. You know, "I need to make a new harpoon. Let's go over and knock off some some bits here."

Ben: Over time, these cold-forged chunks of meteoric iron went into tools and those tools became part of trades with other nearby communities, who in turn traded to others still across a staggering distance.

A blade folded into a narwhal tusk to make a lance for hunting. An arrowhead found in a Norse farm excavation site dating as far back as the 11th century…which seems to be part of the proof of Viking travel to Greenland.

Minik: From archeological finds, it looks as though they have known for centuries. So, so — and we know that it was still in use when Robert Peary arrived in his pursuit of being the first person to reach the North Pole.

Amory: Robert Peary, as it’s more commonly pronounced, was an American whose complicated story is part of a long-term larger story of a changing Greenland. One that Minik, who himself has Inuit ancestors, knows pretty well.

Minik: Yeah, I think there's some level of both exploration and exploitation in his past.

Ben: More on explorers… and exploitation. In a minute.


Ben: As Minik says, for centuries Inuits traveled thousands of miles with no word in their language for migration or immigration.

Amory: By the 17th century, the Inughuit in northwestern Greenland were coming into contact with a culture that was very different from their life with nature. For instance, men who made a point to call themselves arctic explorers. The Greenland residents told the white explorers about the store of iron but British, Swedish, and Danish explorers repeatedly failed to make it to this place that for the Inughuit was a regular stop.

In 1894 came Robert Peary, an explorer from the United States navy. By all accounts, Peary was a little bit different than his predecessors. He brought more useful tools for trading, hired Inughuit people to help him. Over a decade of exploring the area, Peary would hire the people who lived there — not treat them as servants, something that at the time, would have been pretty progressive.

Ben: Peary broke his leg twice, explored the northern reaches of Greenland … and failed to reach destinations. He overwintered there, far from home. And learned a ton from the locals. He would eventually be most recognized for leading an expedition that claimed to be the first to reach the geographic North Pole. Though his navigator, a Black man named Matthew Henson, may have reached the location first.

Peary’s other claim to fame? Being the first Western explorer to actually reach the meteorite which would eventually be called by non-native Greenlanders the Cape York Meteorite.

Peary’s story, and some of the meteorite, can be found at the Peary–MacMillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College in Maine.

Ben: Oh, hey, how's it going? How are you? Nice to meet you.

Genevieve (Genny) LeMoine: Nice to meet you, too.

Ben: This is a cool space.

Genny: Yes, it's an amazing space. We're lucky to be here.

Amory: Genevieve LeMoine is the curator and registrar.

Ben: I get excited when standing in a space like this because I'm like, OK, there's paintings of people of old fancy people. Yeah, and there's a that looks like an admiral over there.

Genny: That’s Donald MacMillan.

Ben: OK. Yeah. Hmm. And but also there's like cool rocks and crazy photographs of the Arctic. Yeah. And then there's like a full on sledge.

Amory: Believe it or not… further inside… there’s even MORE stuff for Ben to get excited about.

Ben: Massive polar bears in various poses. We got a huge — is that a sea lion?

Genny: It's a walrus.

Ben: Walrus. My bad. Puffins.

Genny: Different seals. Caribou.

Amory: Peary caribou?

Genny: The smaller one is a Peary caribou, and the bigger one is a barren grounds caribou.

Amory: Wow. So he has a species of caribou named after him?

Genny: Yes.

Amory: Wow.

Ben: Genny gave us all the Peary history.

Genny: Well, ultimately the North Pole is what he was looking for.

Ben: But he failed.

Genny: Depends on who you ask. He certainly thought he made it to the North Pole.

Ben: Right? What do you think?

Genny: I think he got pretty close. And it's impossible to know because it's on water. It's impossible to know whether he ever got there, because whatever stick he put in the ground to say "I was here" — which he did, you know, they put up a flag and took photographs — within minutes, it drifted away from wherever it had been.

Amory: And what was his working relationship or otherwise with the Inuit people there?

Genny: So, it depends on who you ask and when you ask them, I suspect. He thought he was their great benefactor and gave them so many wonderful things.

I don't think you would say he developed friendships with people. He, obviously, he had an Inuit wife. Just very well documented. And children. And he, by his own account, loved her at the same time as loving his American wife.

So, you know, his his relationship was mixed. But he did — he poured in a lot of material goods into that community. A lot of iron, wood, needles, dishes, whatever. You know, all kinds of stuff: firearms, ammunition, lamps, kerosene to burn the lamps.

Amory: Peary may have poured a lot of material goods into the community. But what did he pull out? After bringing in engineers, building a railroad, and a whole new pier to get it onto a ship? Yep. The meteorite. Three chunks of it actually.

Ben: This excrement of the stars, believed to be dropped from the sky by the Inughuit ancestors to be used as a source for meteoric iron for hundreds of years, Peary planned to bring it by ship all the way back to America. And sell it. The three large pieces which would later be named Tent, Woman, and Dog, would all travel to the U.S.

Ben: He poured some resources into the community. But did he pay for the meteorite?

Genny: Not that we know of — at least not that I know of. He just saw it, as, you know, something on the land that he could just pick. He, obviously, he paid the men who were working to dig it out. But I don't think he saw it as something that somebody owned. And so he didn't purchase it in that sense. Yeah.

Amory: According to Genny, Peary needed the cash. Exploring was expensive. Polar explorers in the 17th century often were only able to do their work if they could convince the government or some other wealthy benefactors to bankroll them.

Ben: Often the support came from those who would find material benefit from a new shipping passage, for instance. While Robert Peary was overwintering in northern Greenland, taking a second Inughuit wife, Aleqasina, and starting a second family his first wife, Josephine, looking for cash.

Genny: Josephine, when he was in the Arctic, was doing a lot of fundraising to charter ships to go bring them home. So it was, you know, it was money that — she viewed it as money to continue his exploration career. Yeah, it wasn't. They weren't really enriching themselves all that much.

Amory: But Peary had some people who might help him bankroll his exploring in the arctic. The American Museum of Natural History in New York was interested in the meteorite and also the Inughuits. So when Peary finally succeeded in getting the massive rock onto a ship, he brought it to New York City and was paid forty thousand dollars, the equivalent of one point two million dollars today.

The meteorite weighed about the same as a herd of elephants. 34 tons or 68,000 pounds. It was so heavy, that to display it the museum’s foundations had to be reformed onto the bedrock beneath New York City.

Ben: Peary also brought six Inughuits with him. Including a father and his son…a 7-year old boy named Minik. The museum was interested in both the meteorites, and the Inughuits. And Peary delivered both.

Genny: So the six of them came down. Peary took them over to, well, first they exhibited them. Then they took them to the American Museum, where they were in a sense on public view to some extent. But very quickly, of course, since New York in the 19th century, and they started getting various respiratory ailments and so most of them died.

Ben: One of them, who had been living in the basement of the museum with the others, didn’t die: Minik. No known relation to our geologist in Denmark, though he is the current Minik’s namesake. The boy’s life story is quite a journey. He lived in New York City for a while, taken in by someone connected to the museum. But like so much of the tradeoffs between the Inughuits and people of European descent… the boy would eventually discover that this kind of support wasn’t well balanced with what was taken from him.

Genny: The funeral that they'd held for his father had been fake and that in fact, they had not buried him. They had processed his body for the skeleton and the skeleton was at the museum.

Amory: The museum kept the bones of his father.

Genny: He got very upset and tried and tried and tried to get — he tried to get Peary to do something. Peary didn’t pay any attention to him. He eventually — he couldn't get the bones back. The museum in those days would never have done anything like that to give them a proper burial.

Ben: Reporting on his predicament suggests Minik never really found resolution for being taken away from Greenland as a child. But he did travel north. To northern New Hampshire to work in a logging camp. He died of the 1918 Flu. Eventually, after public pressure, the Museum of Natural History would repatriate his father’s bones to northern Greenland in the 1990s.

We reached out to the American Museum of Natural History. But they wouldn’t make anyone available for an interview. They did send back a statement acknowledging that the museum’s past actions “raise complicated ethical questions" and the episode with Minik Wallace was “particularly egregious.” About returning the meteorite, they said they were not aware of any requests to do so.

Amory: The museum in Maine doesn't have any huge meteorite fragments. But it has collected a few items over the years.

Genny: So, this knife, this light colored — it's made out of antler, this knife. And it's a little hard to see. If you squat down, maybe a little bit, bend down a little bit, you can see it's got little sort of semi-lunar blades set into it that are the cutting edge. And those are the little chips of iron from the meteorites that fell at Cape York.

Ben: Wait, sorry. Oh, OK. Whoa. No. If you, yeah, squat down a little bit, and it's got teeth in it.

Amory: I see.

Ben: Yeah, that are metal. Well, so it's like a caribou horn that they slid some chunks of metal into.

The meteorite’s older travels, along trade routes, in tools, were repeated thanks to Peary, but also archaeologists, geologists and others. Another large piece is on display at the Geological Museum in Copenhagen, where our new friend Minik works.

Amory: And along with the caribou horn knife, Genny has some more precious pieces, wrapped in yellowed paper, gently filed in a small box with a mess of labels and stickers.

Genny: I haven't actually opened this in quite a few years now.

Ben: Okay, little plastic case, some cotton balls.

Amory: Little cotton balls.

Genny: [Moves pebbles around] 

Amory: It says “piece” in a beautiful script. This looks like a like a set designer made this old writing. It says, “Piece of the meteor that Peary brought from the Arctic region.” And then I carried that "on his" something "voyage." "First," maybe.

Ben: Look, we can admit these little rusty chips are not exactly mind-blowing. But when you know how far they’ve traveled. Not just across the face of our planet, but how far they traveled to get to our planet, it’s exciting to watch Genny poke at them with her rubber gloves.

Amory: It’s also a mixed feeling. If you take the galactic view of this traveler, it’s hard to pinpoint a home per se. But Hivshu described to us how sacred this stuff was for hundreds of years.

Hivshu: Every time you should cut it, the shamans were doing a ritual or they do a ceremony before you do it to give ourselves the access to that, that we are going to use this stone.

Ben: We understand that there are some Inughuit people or at least descendants that say the meteorite fragments should come home. What do you think about that?

Genny: Well, I mean, that's a really, really big and important question, particularly right now in archeology. And what's becoming [clear] — it has become crystal clear over the last few decades, really — is that you need to work with the community.

Ben: Today if you dig something up, it usually remains the property of the nation where you did the digging. Rare minerals, by the way, are still a hot commodity in Greenland today. Not for museum display. But again… for technology. Tools. Electric cars. Wind turbines. And getting those minerals… is again… neither easy nor always in keeping with the natural landscape or history.

Amory: So we raised this with Minik, a guy who has Inuit ancestors and works at a museum displaying pieces of the meteorite. And who, by the way, is currently doing work on how to more carefully and sensibly extract minerals from Greenland for agricultural use. So on the meteorite, it’s a complicated question.

Minik: I don't have as strong a strong opinion, but I think that that as long as the history is transparent about, you know, How did it get there? Where did it come from? Who did this and that and the other? So, it's a very tricky thing. I don't think there's a simple answer.

Ben: It may be that a geologist looking at the origin of life is going to take a longer view.

Ben: But of everyone we talked to…I think the person whose opinion on the Meteorite’s fate…and Peary’s actions… we ended up most interested in…was Hivshu.

Hivshu: Peary was just a part of that generation at the time. Of the system from where he came from. And that's the only way he could do for his country — by stealing, just like the others were stealing artifacts from the Natives for their own sake to their own benefit. So everybody did that. It was not different from the others.

Amory: Hivshu himself is also a person with a story of traveling, of leaving Greenland, and returning. And all of the complexities that come with that kind of story.

Hivshu: When I was nine years old, the school system came into our place and took me away from my elders and from my hometown because they thought I was clever enough to learn the other languages, and I could return to my people to reeducate them that the way they live is wrong. And I'd been to school about 10 years when I understood this was the manipulation of the mind: to believe their system is the most beautiful life and you will have a good life with this system. So, I decided to return. I was 19 years old when I come back. And I saw we were not no longer allowed to build our own houses. I had forgotten everything. I was distracted by this education, books, material, and all this manipulation in my mind was just like a dirt. It was very, very difficult to get off. So, it took me many years to understand again my life. So that’s my life.

Ben: The full name that Hivshu won’t say, because of his belief that others should say your name…is Hivshu Robert Peary II.

Ben: And so was here, great great grandfather, is that or?

Hivshu: My great grandfather.

Ben: Your great grandfather?

Hivshu: Yes.

Ben: Did the meteorite have any meaning to the Inughuit people beyond practical? Was there a spiritual significance too, or no?

Hivshu: We don't call them tools, we call them our partners. Everything is life. Life is everything. So, this meteorite was a gift from our ancestors that should be respected. It has its own life, their own spirit.

Ben: Do you think it should come back? Do you think it should be—?

Hivshu: It should come back. We have problems. We have social problems making us frustrated. It's like our life was taken away. Only the ancestors who brought this to us — the spirit of that — will be able to harmonize us again. Because the meteorite has vibrations. [Sounds out vibrations.] They will clean our mind. They will clean our life. And remind us who we are. Remind us our origin life. And remind us why we are here on the Earth, and there be peace.

Amory: Maybe Hivshu takes a longview, too about how — whether we are breaking chunks of meteoric iron to create tools or harvesting minerals for car batteries, or even talking about in the future mining asteroids — we should try to resist our amnesia and remember what we’re doing and why.

Hivshu: It's not about being smart, being beautiful, being rich, being powerful, having big cars. It's not about the American dream. The American dream is actually the work of a demon. We are consumers that will never be full. We've got everything, but we are not satisfied. It’s about helping each other, supporting each other, surviving together to be able to live on the Earth peacefully.

Ben: Hivshu, thank you very much. It's been wonderful to listen and to learn from you.

Hivshu: My pleasure, young man. I am very, very grateful that the ancestors were bringing you to me so I could speak all my b******t.

Ben: Yeah, well, it didn't sound like b******t to me, but but I appreciate the sentiment.

Hivshu: Never forget that you are the tools of our ancestors to bring the truth. Thank you for being born.

[Singing "Calling for Ancestors"]

Amory: Endless Thread is a production of WBUR in Boston.

Ben: Want early tickets to events, swag, bonus content? Join OUR email list! You’ll find it at

Ben: This episode was written by yours truly and produced by Dean Russell. And it’s hosted by us, Ben Brock Johnson…

Amory: And Amory Sivertson. Mix and Sound Design by Emily Jankowski. Additional help from Paul Vaitkus.

Editing help from Maureen McMurray. Our web producer is Megan Cattel. The rest of our team is Nora Saks, Quincy Walters and Grace Tatter.

Amory: Endless Thread is a show about the blurred lines between digital communities and SWORDS MADE FROM SPACE ROCKS WITH METALLURGY! If you’ve got an untold history, an unsolved mystery, or a wild story from the internet that you want us to tell, hit us up. Email Endless Thread at WBUR dot ORG.

Headshot of Dean Russell

Dean Russell Producer, WBUR Podcasts
Dean Russell is a producer for WBUR Podcasts.


Headshot of Ben Brock Johnson

Ben Brock Johnson Executive Producer, Podcasts
Ben Brock Johnson is the executive producer of podcasts at WBUR and co-host of the podcast Endless Thread.



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