Knud Rasmussen - Across Arctic America



Grade Level

This lesson plan is designed to be used with students ages 12-15.


Students will read excerpts from "Across Arctic America," by Knud Rasmussen. In groups, students will be assigned a topic to research in the readings and will choose a method by which to share the information they learn with their fellow students.

Estimated Time Needed

2 class periods.



Copies of "Across Arctic America," by Knud Rasmussen, pages 100-108 and pages 114-121. Isuma Inuit Studies Reader, Isuma Publishing, Montreal 2004.

Optional: Notes on shamanism

Optional: The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, Igloolik Isuma Productions:


  1. Ask students if they remember the name Knud Rasmussen from an earlier lesson. Have them share anything they remember and write on the board.
  2. Remind them that Knud Rasmussen was a Danish Explorer who traveled approximately 46,000 km (29,000 miles) by dog sled from Greenland to Siberia between 1921 and 1924.
  3. Tell students that in 1922 Knud Rasmussen stayed in Igloolik visiting the shaman Aua ("a shaman is a mediator between the human world and the spirit world, between the living and the dead, and between animals and human society." Atanarjuat The Fast Runner, page 39). For more information on shamanism, review accompanying notes with students.
  4. Explain that students will be reading excerpts from "Across Arctic America", Knud Rasmussen's account of his stay with Aua and his family.
  5. Break students into 5 groups. Explain that each group will be assigned a topic, which they will research in the provided reading. The topics are:
    • Traditional ceremonies
    • Duties of women
    • Design of snow huts
    • Fears of Inuit
    • Most difficult time of year
  6. Have students choose a topic or randomly assign. Groups researching the first three topics will receive copies of pages 100-108. Groups researching the second two topics will receive copies of pages 114-121.
  7. Explain that groups can share the information they learn about their topic any way they choose (i.e. poster, chart, drawing, written essay, etc.) Brainstorm possible methods and list on the board.
  8. Allow students time to read excerpt, either aloud in groups or independently, and begin working on their topic. Students may need additional time to complete their assignment during the next class period.


Once groups have completed their projects, allow time for sharing and questions. Evaluation of each project should be based on inclusion of key facts of each topic. Information for each topic can be found on the following pages:

  • Traditional customs, pgs. 104-105 (initiation of infant setting out on first journey), pgs. 106-107 (walrus hunting)
  • Duties of women, pgs. 107-109
  • Design of snow huts, pgs. 102-103, pg. 107
  • Fears, pg. 117
  • Difficult time of year, pgs. 120-121


Angilirq, Paul Apak; Cohn, Norman; Saladin d'Anglure, Bernard, "Atanarjuat The Fast Runner". Toronto: Coach House Books and Isuma Publishing, 2002.

Robinson, Gillian, "Isuma Inuit Studies Reader". Montreal: Isuma Publishing, 2004.

Isuma Publishing/A Division of Igloolik Isuma Productions:

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