In short, Miyax is "alone and lost" because she has run away from her mentally ill husband, Daniel, in a desperate attempt to travel to her pen pal, Amy, in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Miyax ends up in the Alaskan tundra during the one time of year (the Arctic summer) when it is almost impossible to determine both direction and location.
Miyax is coerced into marrying Daniel in order to escape from her Aunt Martha. The marriage between Miyax and Daniel is an arranged marriage. The moment Julie sees Daniel, she notices there "is something wrong with him." It is not long before Daniel attempts to rape Miyax. This is the event that causes Miyax to flee onto the Alaskan tundra.
One would think that an Eskimo as trained as Miyax would not be lost on the tundra, but at the time Miyax runs away, the north star (the ultimate guide for an Eskimo) is not visible. The migration of the arctic terns aren't visible either (in that they have not started their migration). Further, in the northern Alaskan summer, the sun never sets. It simply circles the horizon. Therefore, there is no way for Miyax to tell east from west.