Over the course of the story, Russel becomes more and more acquainted with the old ways of the Inuit. Russel's keen to learn more about the old ways, as he wants to ensure that the connection between himself and his ancient tribal heritage isn't lost. That's what's happened to Russel's father, and the last thing he wants is to undergo the same experience.
As his father's not in a position to help him, Russel looks to the tribal elder Oogruk to teach him everything he wants to know about Inuit culture and tradition. Although the eccentric old man lives in the same kind of accommodation as every other member of the tribe, the interior of his house is completely different. For one thing, he uses animal skins for insulation, an age-old practice that he passes on to Russel. The Inuit don't just kill animals for meat; they also use their skins. No part of an animal carcass is wasted.
Using the animal skins for insulation ensures that the spirit of the dead animal lives on among the Inuit people, with whom they have a special bond. The Inuit believe themselves to be part of a cosmic whole in which humans, animals, and all aspects of creation are joined together. Their use of animal skins to provide themselves with warmth is a concrete symbol of this ancient tribal belief.