Book cover illustration of caribou on snow and vegetation covered landscape



It was a Monday in February. Fifth-grader Bruce Turner squirmed in his seat. It was -20 degrees outside and a blizzard was burying streets and driving the snow against doorways. There had been no outdoor recess today. Bruce was bored. He wanted to be outside where he spent hours year-round, following animal tracks, observing snow geese during nesting season, finding tuttu antlers on the tundra, watching gulls and ravens soar overhead in the wind, and jigging for fish under the river ice. Bruce thought his village, Nuiqsut, was the best place in the world because he could do all the things he loved right here. But for now, Bruce was inside in the classroom getting ready for a visit by an elder, George Reilly, who would tell ancient stories called unipkaat about tuttut. A few minutes later, Shirley, Bruce’s teacher, welcomed George to the classroom.

So begins the story of Bruce Bruce Turner, a fifth grader living in the Inuit village Nuiqsut, Alaska. His class is learning from village elders about the importance of Caribou in their culture and how though they are hunted. The animals must be respected if they are to return every year. Afterwards Bruce joins his father on a hunt, and they return with a caribou. Bruce’s parents and aaka (grandmother) then show Bruce how the caribou is put to use in many ways, from food, to clothing, to using its sinew to develop sewing thread. Later that summer, Bruce joins local scientists on the annual caribou count, where he learns more about caribou behavior and migration.