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In her role as the seamstress for an expedition comprised of four men and a female cat named Vic, Blackjack was assured that during her one-year contract sewing survival gear on Wrangel Island, she would be well fed and cared for without needing to participate in the grueling day-to-day work of Arctic survival. But by the time a rescue ship crested the horizon nearly two years later, Blackjack, who would come to be known as “The Female Robinson Crusoe,” was the only member of the party still alive—that is, apart from Vic. The shy tailor with the crippling fear of polar bears had taught herself to shoot and trap to stave off the constant threat of starvation, and when she strode out to meet her rescuers in a resplendent reindeer parka she had stitched herself, her gaunt face held a triumphant smile. Blackjack—née Ada Deletuk—was born in 1898 in Spruce Creek, Alaska, a remote settlement north of the Arctic circle near the Gold Rush town of Nome. History has largely forgotten her, though Jennifer Niven’s 2004 biography Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic , painted a comprehensive picture of her life. While Blackjack was Inupiat, she was not raised with any knowledge of hunting or wilderness survival. She was instead brought up by Methodist missionaries who taught her enough English to study the bible, and who instructed her in housekeeping, sewing, and cooking white-people food. At the age of 16, she married Jack Blackjack, a local dog musher, and together they had three children—two of whom died—before Jack deserted Ada on the Seward Peninsula in 1921. The abandoned Blackjack walked 40 miles back to Nome with her five-year-old son, Bennett; when he was too tired to walk, she carried him.
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Blackjack dealer Jeremy Kris Brown, 43, of Sisseton, was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution for his role in the conspiracy. The three were all convicted of conspiracy involving theft by employees of a gaming establishment on Indian land. According to plea agreements, the South Dakota U.S. Attorney's office said that in December 2015 the defendants devised a plan to cheat the casino five miles north of Watertown on the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation and operated by the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Sioux Tribe. The plan was for Rondell to make a large sum of money from illegitimate winnings paid by Brown and Rondell would then pay off the others.
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