Character Sketches: How many of the Claire Rudolf Murphy characters can you identify?
Developed by Staff and Students at:
Place your mouse over the words “Who am I?” to read the answer. Click on the words “Who am I?” to go read the page about the book.
I was 15 years old. My family lived in Fairbanks, Alaska. I played T-Ball & Little League, moving up in the ranks through the
Minors, Majors, and Juniors, and finally had a chance to be on the postseason All Star team, but I lost the game. I had a friend
with a physical disability. In my life there were two kinds of free radicals: My mom had a 31-year-old secret: she was a Radical
fugitive. Another type of ‘free radicals’ are the bad things in your body that cause you to be sick.
When I was born into the Shoshone tribe my name meant “one who carries a burden.”. At the age of 12 I was taken away
from my people by the Hidatsa, who sold me to Charbonneau, a French Canadian trader.
I was the only woman member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. My baby Pompy, the Shoshone word for hair, was born
during this journey. I was vital to the journey, using skills, such as food gathering, translating and bartering for horses with
the Native Americans along the way.
Charbonneaou was paid $500 for the expedition; I received nothing. The golden dollar features my image and Pompy’s.
I was 8 years old in 1910, when my family lived in Iditarod, Alaska. My dad lived away from us in a mining camp. My mother,
my 4-year old sister and I lived in a big canvas tent, which my mother operated as a hotel. Soon the tent was replaced with a
wood-frame building. There were twice as many dogs as people in our town because they pulled the freight to the mines. My
sister and I went to a one-room school. We enjoyed sledding, fishing, reading books and listening to music on a Victrola for fun.
I cut and hauled wood every day to keep the hotel warm. When the snow melted our streets were filled with mud. I collected
newspapers from Seattle and sold them for $1.00. I caught fish to sell to the restaurants. By 1916 the gold boom in Iditarod
was finished and we moved to California. Two years later my father quit prospecting for gold and left to join us, but his ship
grounded on a rock near Juneau and sank. All 350 passengers died.
I may not look much like my breed, because I am unique, but I am a Norwegian Reindeer Dog. I started out as a working dog,
carrying freight and pulling the big gold dredges out on the creeks for a Nome mining company. I was not a racing dog.
But in 1925 the call went out for more dog teams to relay diphtheria serum to the town of Nome. I led my dogsled team 674
miles through blinding snow, with the life-saving serum packed inside a caribou hide (since the temperature outside was
twenty-eight below 0). In a race that lasted 127 hours we saved the town of Nome!
Afterwards my team was cheered in parades in the Lower 48 states. School children in Cleveland, Ohio saved pennies to
bring me to live in their zoo til I died 6 years later and my body was preserved in a Cleveland Museum, where you can
still see me today. A statue honoring me is also in Central Park in New York City.
I am an Inuit girl who lived long ago in the far north. I lived on the Arctic tundra. When my people cannot find the caribou that
feeds us, I embark on a journey, changed into the form of a caribou to meet my great-grandmother, a shaman who lives on the
moon with Moon Man. I travel with the caribou spirit to live and learn the ways of the herd, surviving wolf attacks. Finally
my journey is complete and I return to my people to explain how they can live in harmony with the herd.