Part 1 Summary

Amaroq, the Wolf

Miyax, a thirteen-year-old Eskimo girl and child bride, is in a "desperate predicament." She has just run away from a prearranged marriage in Barrow and is headed, alone, in the direction of Point Hope, across the vast northern tundra of Alaska. The distance Miyax must travel on foot is several hundred miles, but she had been confident that she would be able to reach Point Hope, where she had planned to board a ship to the home of her pen pal, Amy, in San Francisco. Somewhere on the vast expanse, however, Miyax has lost her way.

Miyax has learned to be at home on the land from her father Kapugen, the great hunter. Unfortunately, she had not considered that the natural signs that had always allowed her to maintain her bearings might not be the same everywhere. On the barren tundra, everything looks the same, and the North Star, the most dependable of her guides, will not be visible for another month in this location near the top of the world. Miyax is lost, without direction or food; her only hope is the family of wolves she has come upon.

There are four adult wolves and five pups in the pack Miyax has found. She calls the "regal black wolf" who is their leader "Amaroq," and the beautiful gray wolf who is his mate "Silver." The male wolf who appears to be second in command is "Nails," and the cowering, skulking creature who lives on the fringes of the pack is "Jello." One of the pups in the litter is clearly smarter and more fearless than the others, and he immediately catches Miyax's attention. She names him "Kapu," after her father.

Kapugen has taught Miyax that wolves are "gentle brothers" who have been known to share their food with humans under dire circumstances. Knowing that her very survival depends on them, Miyax observes the wolves closely from the sod house she has built near their den, trying to learn their language and to figure out how to gain their acceptance.

By watching the subtle nuances of the wolves' interactions, Miyax quickly discovers the basic signals through which they communicate. The leader asserts his authority by biting the others on the tops of their noses; a soft bite under the chin signifies devotion, ears flattened indicate friendship, and ears pointed forward show dominance. When the adult wolves run off for a time, leaving the pups with the ineffective Jello, Miyax, wiggling her hands on her head to represent wolf ears, tries to interact with the little ones. To her astonishment, she finds that she can indeed communicate...

(The entire section is 1041 words.)