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David F. Pelly Writer, Researcher, Historian, Photographer

Sacred Hunt:
A Portrait of the Relationship between Seals and Inuit
Published in 2001
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The seals were a lifeline, the very means of survival for the people.  From the beginning, Inuit had a deep respect for the seals, which for them was the key to a successful hunt, the essence of survival, and the basis of their relationship with the seals.

For centuries, Inuit and other indigenous peoples of the Arctic have used seal meat for food, sealskin for clothing, and oil from seal blubber as fuel for light and heat.  For these reasons, the seal was the principal prey of Inuit and the seal hunt lies at the core of traditional Inuit life.

In this book, David Pelly's lucid text, based on years of traditional knowledge research, describes multiple facets of the seal hunt, beginning with the respect for seals underlying the hunt.  This respect is reflected in the myths, legends, rituals, and traditions of the Arctic peoples, extending to the very creation of seals.  Sacred Hunt offers a provocative and moving portrait of the traditional hunt and of the spiritual link between Inuit and Arctic seals.
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A group of Inuit elders celebrating the release of Sacred Hunt with David

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An Inuit hunter waiting at an aglu, a seal’s breathing hole, on the spring sea ice

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David Pelly has written this book about seals and has included things that have never been printed before …  Inuit have contributed much of their knowledge to this important book.  You will learn something from David's work – he writes about the real stuff.

The Honorable Peter Irniq
Commissioner of Nunavut
"This wonderful book is full of testaments to the centrality of the seal hunt in traditional Inuit life."

Books In Canada
"Pelly captures the spirit and history of the land [and its] aboriginal mysticism"

Canadian Geographic
"Pelly is a thorough researcher and a talented author …  He gives his readers something that so few of them have had before – an honest look at a people whose existence depends on Mother Nature ….  From myth to methodology, Pelly's down-to-earth account … is more than educational, it's downright eye-opening, even inspiring.  It's worth every dime."

Alberta Native News
"[Pelly] has produced an excellent ethnography of Inuit sealing …  this book is not only descriptively rich, but also captures the socio-cultural and ecological complexities of this relationship."

George Wenzel, Arctic
"Dramatic … powerful … soul-stirring … fascinating … handsomely designed …"

Canadian Geographic
"Those who have read Pelly's magazine articles and other books do not doubt that this latest book will present an authentic account of Inuit and seals.  David Pelly has delivered an excellent exposé."

Nunatsiaq News
"Libraries containing northern books can now consider themselves richer by one.  Sacred Hunt is a gorgeous narrative … [and] a fascinating document.   Readers will be enthralled."

News North
Click here to see the review by C.E.S. (Ned) Franks of Queens University, Kingston, ON., published in the American Review of Canadian Studies.

American Review of Canadian Studies

Bibliographic data
Sacred Hunt:  A Portrait of the Relationship between Seals and Inuit
GreyStone Books, Douglas& McIntyre Ltd., 2001
University of Washington Press, Seattle
Foreword by The Honorable Peter Irniq, Commissioner of Nunavut
Cloth • 144 pages • 6"x 8"
Colour and B&W Photos, Maps
Index, Bibliography
Hardcover: ISBN 978-1-55054-885-9
Paperback: ISBN 978-1-55054-885-3