The Great White North

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Dennis, your racism is adorable.

The far north counterpart to Injun Country, and part of the Hollywood Atlas dealing with Canada, Eh?. Expect any Inuit villages to be a mishmash of outdated stereotypes. Polar Bears and Penguins are the only wildlife features in the otherwise blank white landscape. The plant life is non-existent, the snow never ever thaws. The only people around are natives who never, ever take off their parkas, and they spend each and every day dog sledding, ice fishing, and seal hunting. They eat nothing but blubber, their ice igloos are their permanent residences (rather than their actual use as temporary shelter), and they know nothing about the modern world. And, of course, they send their old people off to die on ice floes.

A note about names: In many places, especially Canada, the word "Eskimo" itself is considered politically incorrect, derogatory, or both. It's a mispronunciation of Inuit ("The people" in Inuktitut), with "Inuk" being the term for an individual of this group. On the other hand, "Inuit" itself is specific to a single Native American people, and in some places natives who aren't Inuit welcome being called Inuit about as much as Welshmen relish being called English. The natives peoples of Canada (no matter where in Canada they live)[please verify] and also the far north of the U.S.A. are more generally known as the First Nations. Since All The Tropes does not have E-Word Privileges, we are not using any of these names in our Trope name. However, we cannot change other works' names to match.

Examples of The Great White North include:


  • The first major documentary film, Nanook of the North, helped perpetuate a lot of these stereotypes, as exact realism was not a major concern for documentarians in those days.
    • For instance, Flaherty asked the local Inuits to hunt down a walrus with harpoons instead of the guns that they ordinarily used.
  • Rob Reiner's North abuses this trope horribly, giving the film's title two meanings.
  • Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner is different considering it's a feature film made by an Inuit director and cast.
  • Sannikov Land is set on an island in the far north populated by a tribe called the Onkilon.
  • Big Miracle is better than most considering it's based on a true story and depicts the Natives realistically having to deal with the political implications of the whale rescue.


  • Frank Zappa's "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" tells the story of an native boy named Nanook, his favorite baby seal and a fur trapper.
  • Zigzagged with the album Eskimo by The Residents.
  • "Quinn the Eskimo" ("The Mighty Quinn") by Bob Dylan
  • The 1928 hit song "I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream," written by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, and Robert A.K. King, describes a fictional college in 'Eskimo-land' called "Oogie-wawa," where football games involve "gore and flying fur" and where the school cheer involves shouting nonsense words and demanding frozen treats.
  • "I'm the only gay eskimo" by Corky and the Juice Pigs

Newspaper Comics

Video Games

  • Ice Climber is definitely set here, with yetis added in. There are no penguins though, keeping the theme strictly "North Pole."
  • Holoska from Sonic Unleashed, the northern polar ice cap of Sonic's world and its own country.

Web Comics

Torg: Snowshoes?
Riff: Check.
Torg: Parka?
Riff: Check.
Torg: Dogsled operational manual?
Riff: Check.
Torg: Polar bear repellent? Igloo-building kit? Penguin-bait, with included penguin cook-book?
Riff: Check, check, and checkity-check.
Torg: Send me back some walrus blubber?
Riff: Just as soon as I get settled.

Western Animation

  • Cartoon Network's What a Cartoon! featured an episode called "Pizza Boy," where the title character has to deliver a pizza in "five minutes" to natives at the North Pole, who ordered pizza because they were sick of whale blubber.
    • The joke was based on a true story. In the early 1990s a McDonald's franchise was opened in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, the first one in northern Canada. Within a few months it became trendy for Inuit living in the far north to have McDonald's ship pizza and burger orders up via air cargo on the weekly transport. Even after the national office discontinued the McPizza, the Yellowknife franchise still carried them because the demand was so high. In 2000 the franchise earned more profit per square foot than any other franchise in Canada, and 20% of their income was from pizza.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, with their shared Far East fantasy setting, have the Southern and Northern Water Tribes, Fantasy Counterpart Cultures that draw primarily from Inuit culture with a smattering of other influences. Its presentation combines stereotypical elements (Polar Bears and Penguins via Mix-and-Match Critters yields Polar-Bear Dogs and four-winged Penguin Otters, as well as Tiger-Seals, Koala Seals and Sea Ravens) with paradoxical attention to cultural influences in costume and setting design (They live in tents, have outfits other than parkas, unique and varied beaded hairstyles and so on.)
  • Nanooks Great Hunt, a fairly obscure animated series about an Inuit boy on a quest to save his father, who has been captured by a malevolent Polar Bear god. Set in the late 19th century or thereabouts, many episodes revolved around the culture clash between the traditional Inuit ways & the encroaching modern world.
  • Averted in the Greenland episode of Kika And Bob (which is kinda surprising, considering that this animated series often embraces ethnic stereotypes): The Inuits of Greenland live in houses and resent being called "eskimos".
  • An episode of Hey Arnold! ends with Helga's sister Olga going to Alaska "to teach desperate and underprivileged Inuit children". While they did at least update the terminology, the school building is a lone igloo without electricity in the middle of a frozen wasteland.

Other Media

  • This is the usual setting for Russian "Chukchi" joke stories about natives of Chukotka.