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The Seal Hunters
Class set order code: 3888S
When thirteen-year-old Inuluk gets too close to a seal-hunting ship, he is injured by a crewman and taken on board. By the time he recovers, the ship has sailed far from the land he knows, and he witnesses the horrifying carnage of the white man’s hunt. When at last he gets back on land, he is hundreds of miles from home, but he is determined to return to his people—and to a life of harmony with nature.
This novel is set in the early 1900s at the Earth’s frozen edge: the Arctic Circle. The native people there, the Inuit, depend on their traditional skills in hunting seals and caribou for food, clothing, and other necessary materials. Always aware of the fragility of their existence, they are mindful to thank the animals after the kill and to acknowledge the spirits that rule the universe. This way of life and respect for nature could not be more different from that of the Canadian commercial seal hunters.
Thirteen-year-old Inuluk first sees the steam-and-sail ship the Grendel while he is on a hunting expedition with his father Eetuk, a great hunter and a shaman of their Inuit tribe. Eetuk warns his son that the ship is evil; it is filled with men who are slaughtering seals, leaving the carcasses on the ice and taking only the skins and oil. Inuluk sees the ship again while he is out with his best friend Kotuk, and Kotuk is too curious not to get closer. When Inuluk follows him out of fear for his safety, everything goes wrong, and Inuluk is clubbed by a hot-headed crewman of the ship while Kotuk runs for safety. Rather than leave the boy injured on the ice, the captain orders Inuluk brought aboard, effectively capturing him. By the time Inuluk recovers, the ship has sailed far from the land he knows.
The captain finds work on board the ship for Inuluk, but the language barrier is significant. It is nothing, however, compared to the cultural barrier that exists between Inuluk and the white men of the crew. Inuluk sees his first seal hunt by the crewmen, and he is horrified and sickened by the carnage. He spends an entire hunting season on board the Grendel. When at last it nears land, the captain has Inuluk rowed to a settlement on shore, but the boy is hundreds of miles from his tribe. No matter the distance, Inuluk is determined to return to his people—and to a life of harmony with and reverence for nature.