The young orphan Markussi lives with his little sister Mipoulok in an Inuit clan. Markussi can talk to animals and has some special powers unique to shamans. He does not want to be a shaman though and mainly keeps his powers a secret because he fears being a shaman would make him like the clan’s shaman Croolik. Croolik grew selfish and unjust after the deaths of his sons, who died along with Markussi’s father in an accident on a hunting trip. Croolik blames his sons’ deaths on his now-separated wife Saya (whom he accuses of having let their sons go hunting at too young an age) and Markussi’s father; by extension, Croolik also hates Markussi.
At the beginning of the film, Croolik secretly turns away from the goddess Sedna and tries to call on the spirit of darkness. In punishment, Sedna takes all animals away from the clan’s lands, provoking a dangerous food shortage and lack of tradable pelts.
Desperate, the clan decides to search for Sarila, a legendary land where animals are said to be plenty. Under Croolik’s influence—who intends Markussi to die on the quest—three young Inuit are selected: Markussi, along with his two friends, Putulik (son of the clan chief), and Apik, who were promised to each other when they were children. Saya, who now lives on her own as a healer, offers to take care of Markussi’s young sister and her dog Kajuk in his absence.
The three friends leave the clan with sled dogs and Apik’s pet lemming Kimi. On their quest, they face several dangers, repeatedly brought on by Croolik through magic; this includes possessing Putulik by means of twin amulets (called ”medallions”), so that Putulik attacks Markussi. The three young travellers can overcome all dangers, repeatedly saved by Markussi’s powers. In the meantime, Croolik frames his former wife Saya for stealing food from the clan and has her banned from the clan.
Eventually the three friends reach Sarila, a warm place full of life, where they can quickly hunt the much-needed food for the clan. Besides, Apik realizes she loves Markussi, who had already shown affection for her before. Markussi is told by Sedna that he has passed all tests, but needs to do one ”small thing” for her upon return to the clan, for the animals to be released; when asking what she requires, she only responds that ”a true shaman knows what to do” and to ”do what you must.” Briefly afterwards, Putulik is again possessed by Croolik and tries to kill Markussi, but the lemming Kimi realizes the role of Putulik’s amulet and rips it off, freeing Putulik.
Upon return to the clan, Apik tells that she wants to marry Markussi, and her parents consent. Putulik had already agreed earlier. He now wishes to travel and learn more about others’ ways before becoming the clan’s chief one day.
Croolik is enraged that Markussi is still alive and challenges him. Markussi accepts the magical fight, understanding that this is Sedna’s last wish and thereby proving himself a true shaman. Croolik is defeated and, dying, confesses that he framed Saya and asks for her forgiveness.
On behalf of the clan, Markussi formally asks Sedna for forgiveness, and she lets the animals return. Croolik’s crow offers his services to Markussi. When he declines, the crow flies away; in the last shot it is seen carrying one of the twin amulets, which lights up in the same way as it did when Putulik was possessed.