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When Mala, the best hunter in his remote Eskimo village, hears tales from other tribesmen about the White Man's ship and the guns that the White Man trades for fox skins, he is greatly impressed. Later Mala's wife Aba, who longs for the White Man's goods, suggests that Mala and their family travel to the ship, and Mala, who is concerned about providing food for the long winter, agrees. After a 500 mile journey across the frozen tundra, during which Mala graciously offers Aba's sexual services to a womanless hunter, Mala and his family arrive at Tjaranak, an inlet where the White Man's ship is harbored. Mala barters with the unscrupulous captain of the ship and trades his valuable skins for a rifle. Taken with Aba, the captain then insists she remain with him and seduces her with alcohol and useless gifts. The next day, an angry Mala forces the captain to promise to leave Aba alone while he and a group of men are away whale hunting. Later, the sailors begin to drink, and the captain orders two of his men to bring Aba to the ship. Dragged from her igloo against her will, Aba is forced to drink and is raped by the captain. The next morning, still drunk, she stumbles from the ship and collapses in the snow, where she is mistaken for an animal and is shot by a sailor. When Mala returns from the whale hunt, he is told that his wife "sleeps" and learns about the circumstances of her death. Enraged, he kills the captain with a harpoon and rushes back to his tribe with his children. Back in his village, Mala grieves for Aba but leads his tribesman in a successful caribou hunt. While staring at a slain caribou, however, Mala sees the image of the captain and consults with a Wise Old One about his vision. The Wise Old One advises him to ask the Spirits for a new name, so that the captain cannot follow him, and Mala goes to a sacred hilltop to pray. Inspired by a bird that flies overhead, Mala takes the name Kripik and begins to dance and chant. He then notices that Iva, the second wife of another hunter, has followed him and reveals to her his new name. With his new identity, Mala warms to Iva, who has always loved him and has been offered to him by her husband, and agrees to "lie down" with her. Out of respect for Mala, the other hunter offers him his first wife as well and announces that he is leaving the village for good. While Mala enjoys his new family, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police post is established in the Tjaranak inlet, and after the two Mounties in charge learn of the captain's killing, they set out to find and arrest Mala. Near his village, Mala comes across the nearly frozen bodies of the Mounties and reluctantly takes them to his igloo. After they recover sufficiently, the Mounties question Mala about his identity and, through their English speaking Eskimo guide, learn that he is the captain's killer. Although grateful to Mala, the Mounties trick him into leaving his family by telling him that they need his help in securing food at the inlet. While Mala is out wolf hunting for the post, Inspector White arrives and demands that Mala be treated like a prisoner. Reluctantly the Mounties tell Mala, who has learned that his family is alone and starving in the village, that he cannot go home and, breaking a promise they made to him, shackle him to his bed. Enduring great pain and injury, Mala wriggles his hand out of the shackle and, with his dog team, escapes before daylight. The Mounties dutifully pursue him, aware that with his injured hand his chances of a successful flight are limited. After a grueling journey, Mala finally is rescued by his eldest son near his deserted village. Determined not to be re-captured by the traitorous white men, Mala announces that he is leaving the family but is followed by the loyal Iva. As they head for an ice floe, Mala and Iva are pursued by the approaching Mounties. Unable to stop Mala without shooting him, the Mounties decide at last to give the brave Eskimo his freedom.