Meet Heimo Korth – a rare specimen of a man. Leaving his native Wisconsin as a young man in the 1970s he followed the call of his wild heart to Alaska, settling over 100 miles from his nearest neighbour – far north of the Arctic circle. There he taught himself the skills necessary to survive in the harsh, demanding Alaska wilds. Trapping, hunting, fishing, canoeing and emergency survival skills formed the basis of his more than two decade stay on the tundra.
While his long solitary winter trapping season was relieved by yearly trips into town to re-stock and sell fur, he lived alone for the first six years in tiny log cabins. Heimo learned to hunt whales, walrus and seals during spring visits to the barren St. Lawrence Island where he also met Edna, the woman who would become his wife, bear his children and raise them in one of the handful of subsistence living families in Alaska.
Though gregarious and well liked by those with the chance to know him, Heimo values his family’s privacy and distance from the outside world. Despite his inclusion in a 1992 National Geographic Arctic documentary, Heimo is inherently a modest and seclusive man. When initially approached by James Campbell - a writer for National Geographic and a cousin he barely knew - with the offer to write his story, Heimo refused. Campbell doesn’t reveal the reasons for Heimo’s eventual acquiescence; based upon his passion for Alaska’s wilderness I would surmise that it has more to do with providing a written record preserving his vanishing way of life, than with his cousin’s pleas.
Combining first-hand accounts from visits with the Korth family, stories recalled from Heimo’s past and a thorough knowledge of the forces that have shaped Alaska Campbell masterfully portrays the spirit of Alaska as embodied by one man. Connecting interviews with Alaskans (peppered with the gritty, mildly foul language common to all frontiers) to extensive research on the history of uniquely Alaskan issues: wildlife reserves, land allocation, oil pipelines, native and animal rights Campbell concludes that Heimo’s way of life is no longer freely available or desired by many. As such, The Final Frontiersman provides what will certainly become a classic snapshot of a dying way of life in Alaska.