The Franklin expedition disappeared in the High Arctic in the 1840s, looking for the North-West Passage. After a long search, contacts with local Inuit revealed they had all perished. Could the Inuit have saved Franklin’s crews? The experience of John and James Ross is instructive. A decade earlier they led a smaller party to an Arctic region near where Franklin’s crews landed. They made friends with an Inuit community and learnt useful skills in clothing, diet, shelter and transport. This enabled them to survive four Arctic winters and come home safely. But the Franklin expedition was poorly placed to benefit from Inuit contact. They were too numerous and had no interpreters. Trapped in the ice, they did not seek out Inuit villages. Leaving the ships, they turned towards a desert region and abandoned useful equipment. The wrecks of Erebus and Terror were only discovered in 2014 and 2016, again thanks to Inuit guidance. Britain has transferred the wrecks and their contents to Canada. They will be jointly held by the government and the Inuit people, whose contribution to the Franklin story is finally being recognized.