Inuit of northern Canada have a rich oral tradition in their ancient languages and a more recent tradition of written English. Penny Petrone traces the two paths that link the cultural past of arctic peoples with its expression in the present day.
The book's first section includes traditional legends, myths, folk history told by native story-tellers, and poetry sung by Inuit composers. The second presents statements and observations by some of the first Inuit to come into contact with European newcomers, including official reports, interviews, letters, and diaries. Next are early poetry and prose in translation, much of it autobiographical. The final section includes contemporary Inuit writing, from essays and speeches to fiction, poetry, and other genres of imaginative literature. The editor has provided an introduction for each item and arranged the material chronologically to give historical perspective and continuity to the whole.