Novels by Peter Freuchen were the basis of this realistic story of an Eskimo hunter, who is wanted by the police for killing the white man who raped his wife. All the Eskimos were played by natives, using their own language.
Mala (Mala) is the outstanding hunter of his tribe. His son and he bring back salmon to his wife and mother. A hunter from another tribe and his two wives are welcomed in the village. Men kill walruses. Numaka and his family return from the white men with a knife, iron needles, and a rifle. After winter Mala and his family make the trek to Tjarnak. Meeting a friend, whose wife had died, Mala shares his wife. At Tjarnak Mala and his wife are invited on the ship, where they eat and trade furs for a gun. The wife is told to stay on board, though Mala objects they did not ask him. His laughing wife returns the next day with presents. His wife is to stay in the igloo while Mala hunts a whale. On the ship the white men celebrate, and Mala's wife is taken by force onto the ship by the captain (Peter Freuchen). Later the wife stumbles out onto the ice and is shot by mistake. Learning her head was put to "sleep," Mala kills the captain with a harpoon. Mala returns to his village, where his mother has died.
Mala needs a wife to sew skins and is offered Iva (Lotus Long). She says, "A childless woman is humble." The mourning Mala does not want to lay with her yet. Men hunt a caribou herd. Then Mala sees the captain's ghost and prays. He is given the name Kripik. A friend gives his wives Iva and Inapaujak to Mala. Mounted police sergeant Hunt (Joe Sawyer) arrives in the region to enforce Canadian laws. One man says the Eskimos have superior ways; but Anderson accuses Mala of killing the captain. Mala and Inapaujak are happy together. Mala finds a buried sled and saves the lives of Sergeant Hunt and another mounty. Mala is jealous of his wives, but Hunt tells him only bad white men take women. Mala says he is Kripik and that Mala is no more; but learning his identity, the sergeant must take Mala in for questioning. Inspector White (director W. S. Van Dyke) arrives and instills discipline. Mala, hunting alone, has helped them survive. Mala is told that his village is hungry. He joyfully greets White and wants to go home. Mala is advised by a friend he may be hanged. The inspector orders Hunt to shackle Mala. Mala pulls his bloody hand through the handcuff and escapes. The mounties trail him. Mala sees caribou, but the cartridges are too large for his gun. He eats his dogs one at a time and is attacked by a wolf. Mala is found unconscious and is taken home, where he soon recovers. When the whites come, he faces death like a hunter. Iva goes with him, and they go out on an iceberg. The mounties follow but refuse to shoot, as Sergeant Hunt says good-bye.
This film contrasts the moral codes of the Eskimos and the whites. The hunting scenes are realistic, and the characters are well defined. Audiences can learn much from this indigenous culture in this powerful drama.