Native languages and ways of living, including the arts of sea kayaking and dog sledding, fascinated Knud Rasmussen, himself of Inuit and Danish descent. Rasmussen devoted much of his life to ethnological and cultural studies throughout Arctic North America. Establishing a base station in Thule, Greenland, in 1910, he visited as many Inuit peoples as he could, taking meticulous notes and making sketches, collecting artifacts and compiling hundreds of Native legends and songs. The tales are grounded in the Inuit belief system, itself defined by superstition and transformation. Thanks to his own mixed heritage, Rasmussen understood Inuit stories at a deeper level than did most observers, and documented many priceless legends that the West might have otherwise not have noticed.
From his Thule station, Rasmussen led many ambitious Arctic expeditions. His famous “Great Sledge Journey” resulted in this priceless and beloved collection and descriptions of Inuit folktales, songs, and poetry, now finally back in print in English.