The story has three parts, from her present situation (Amaroq, the Wolf), then a flashback (Miyax, the Girl), and finally back to the present (Kapugen, the Hunter).
The story opens with Miyax alone in the wilderness studying the wolves. She has been alone for some time, having run away from home to get to San Francisco (the details of which are elaborated upon in the flashback). This first part of the book shows how Miyax seeks help from the wolf pack and how she is gradually accepted into the pack. She studies the gestures and "language" of the wolves and learns to mimic them. By adjusting to their living patterns, Miyax makes herself less threatening to the alpha male, whom she has named Amaroq. At first their interaction takes place at a distance, but by watching Amaroq's pup Kapu retrieve regurgitated food, she is able to approach another wolf and induce him to regurgitate a portion of pre-digested food. In this way she gains acceptance as a part of the pack and is able to eat and stay alive. Miyax becomes fond of the black wolf pup, whom she names Kapu after her brave father.
The second part of the book is a flashback of Miyax's past. It is revealed that her mother died, leaving her with her father, Kapugen, whom she adores. Her father teaches her many things, including how to survive in her Arctic surroundings. One day, her Aunt Martha comes and tells of a law that Miyax must go to school and that Kapugen must go to war. Kapugen tells her that if anything happens to him or if she is unhappy, she can marry his business partner Naka's son, Daniel. Miyax lives in Martha's home in the town of Mekoryuk while she attends school under her American name, Julie. Martha soon reveals to Julie that her father is thought to be dead. Julie gradually accepts her father's absence, and adjusts to her life among the Americanized Eskimos. She eventually agrees to be pen pals with Amy Pollock, who lives in San Francisco. Soon Julie is offered to marry Daniel, since she was of age. She accepts and is transported to Daniel's village. Julie realizes that Daniel has problems, but is comforted by his mother. However, when Daniel attempts to rape her, she runs away for San Francisco to live with Amy, and changes her name back to Miyax.
In the third part of the book, which returns to the present, Miyax follows the wolves, who help her in times of need, but realizes that the wolves are in danger as it is hunting season for the humans. She strikes out on her own and begins to live off the tundra with greater ease as she travels south, continuing her friendship with Amaroq's son Kapu. Soon after, Miyax witnesses hunters in a plane shooting at her beloved pack, killing Amaroq and wounding Kapu. They kill Amaroq but do not take his body, causing Miyax to scream with sorrow and fury at the plane above.
Grief-stricken, Miyax nurses Kapu back to health until he can become the alpha male, then Miyax forces her pack to abandon her for their sake. Miyax builds a life for herself, but soon discovers that Kapugen is still alive and hurries to meet him. Initially overjoyed to be reunited, Miyax is shocked to find Kapugen remarried to a white woman and to have forsaken the ways of the Eskimos, including owning a plane for hunting. She departs from her father's house with the intent to live alone on the tundra but decides to return to her father, as "the hour of the wolf and Eskimo is over."