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The Way of Kinship

The Way of Kinship: An Anthology of Native Siberian Literature

ALEXANDER VASCHENKO
CLAUDE CLAYTON SMITH
FOREWORD BY N. SCOTT MOMADAY
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 280
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttstbb
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  • Book Info
    The Way of Kinship
    Book Description:

    Drawn from seven distinct ethnic groups, this diverse body of work—prose fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction—chronicles ancient Siberian cultures and traditions threatened with extinction in the contemporary world. Translated and edited by Alexander Vaschenko and Claude Clayton Smith, The Way of Kinship is an essential collection that will introduce readers to new writers and new worlds.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7540-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. FOreWOrD
    (pp. x-xi)
    N. Scott Momaday

    Once, at a remote reindeer camp in western Siberia, I saw the skull of a bear fixed to a tree. In the writings of my friend Yeremei Aipin, I had read of the Khanty Bear Feast, a sacred ceremony that celebrates the ancient spiritual relationship between man and bear. Still later, at the opening of a writers’ union headquartered in Khanty-Mansiisk, I ate the heart of a bear without knowing it. It was a delicacy, prepared on open flames and served on skewers. When I discovered what I had eaten, I was disturbed, for my people, the Kiowas of the...

  4. InTrODuCTIOn CRY OF THE WILD CRANE: THE CALL OF FORGOTTEN KINSHIP
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)
    Alexander Vaschenko

    The emergence of Native literatures around the globe during the second half of the twentieth century is by now a well-established cultural fact. One example of this fact is the development of Native literatures in Siberia, a striking phenomenon that requires a new set of metaphors and definitions to describe. One such metaphor, coming from real-life experience, seems particularly appropriate: in 1995, at the first convention of reindeer-breeding ethnic peoples of Russia, a young Native girl, a delegate from the Far North, brought the attention of the audience to the urgent cultural and economic claims of her people when she...

  5. EVenK InVOCaTIOn FOr GOOD FOrTune TO NATURE, WHEN THE EARTH TURNS GREEN
    (pp. 1-2)

    O Mother Earth, I have come from the expanses of the River Yana, calledMother, too, from ancient times. I have come from the valley-dwelling Yakuts, taking refuge on your warm bosom, poor me. I have come here, to where my eyes first saw the world. Dear Mother, I bow down to you and pay my respects, for I tread on your green garment. By this tiny coin, as small as my fingernail, I mark my visit. If only you would lift your eyes from beneath your golden-black brows and look my way, my joy would be boundless.

    That is...

  6. YeremeI AIPIn (KHANTY)
    (pp. 3-4)

    The son of a hunter and fisherman, Yeremei Aipin was born in the native village of Varyogan in West Siberia in 1948. Ethnically, he is of the Khanty people, of the Finno-Ugric language stock. As a young man he labored in the Siberian oil fields at the state depository of Samotlor, and as a carpenter before specializing in creative writing at Moscow’s State Literary University. Following his graduation in 1976, he spent ten years at the Khanty-Mansiisk Center for the Native Arts. His early writing consisted of translations from Khanty into Russian. His books includeWaiting for the First Snow,...

  7. OLD MAN MOON
    (pp. 5-8)

    The copper-red face of the moon floated slowly out of the pines. Everything—the spring snows, the evening clouds, the houses and people—reflected the same purple, copper-red color. When I saw the enormous round face of the moon, I asked my mother:

    “Who is that over there?”

    My mother answered:

    “That is Old Man Moon.”

    Stunned by its vivid complexion and flaming enormity, I pointed my finger at it, and my mother rebuked me strictly:

    “You should never point your finger at the Old Man.”

    “Why?” I asked.

    “Your finger will ache,” she explained. “It’s a well-known belief.” Turning...

  8. THE EARTH’S PAIN
    (pp. 9-12)

    Whenever by accident my mother touched the earth with an ax, she would quickly level the cut, covering it with woodchips and fir needles. My father would do the same, whenever his ax slipped from a tree and sliced the earth. I once asked my mother the meaning of this.

    “It makes a wound on the Earth’s body,” my mother said.

    “By no means should you leave Her wounds unattended. It hurts Her!”

    “It hurts?” I was astonished. “You never told me that before.”

    “If by accident you hurt the Earth—our Sitting One—you have to heal the wound...

  9. PUZZLES OF MY CHILDHOOD (from The Long Tail through the Forest)
    (pp. 13-14)

    O puzzle of mine, puzzle of mine!

    Across the forest a long tail lies extended, lies quiet.

    What is it?

    (a path in the woods)

    O puzzle of mine, puzzle of mine!

    A hundred men by one belt are all tied up, are all belted.

    What is it?

    (grass tied in a bundle)

    O puzzle of mine, puzzle of mine!

    The black horse, the red horse embrace each other, caress each other.

    What is it?

    (a kettle on the fire)

    O puzzle of mine, puzzle of mine!

    Under the water a hundred eyes stare vacantly.

    What is it?

    (a fishnet)...

  10. Selections from MORNING TWILIGHT: A NOVEL OF THE KHANTY
    (pp. 15-53)

    . . . There came the morning to ascend.

    And the Man, slowly turning toward the sun with a long glance at the earth, where he had been born and lived to this very day, pulled at the bridle. And the reindeer at the head of the pack took his first step into the sky, and the little pack train began to rise at an angle, unhurriedly, as if climbing a mountain. Behind its master, the dog guided the flock of reindeer, and it too ascended, following an invisible track in the morning sunlight.

    The Man rose into the sky...

  11. AND SO DIES MY CLAN
    (pp. 54-65)

    I speak to you from the Lower World. I am a shadow, a phantom. A ghost. I am here, and yet I am not. You hear me, and yet you don’t. Why? Because this year I turned forty. And like many clansmen and relatives of the same age, I’ve already been to the Lower World. Once, twice, even three times—I have died. Why? Why have we gone to the Other World before our time? Because we’ve lost our life-space. There is no place left for us on this earth. No place to live, to breathe, to feel joy and...

  12. NaDeZDa TaLIGIna (KHANTY)
    (pp. 66-66)

    Nadezda Taligina, born in 1953, is a Khanty artist and scholar coming from the family of a reindeer breeder. After graduating from the Salekhard Cultural Studies College, she studied in Moscow at the Stroganov School of Art from 1982 to 1987, specializing in jewelry. She spent the year of 1992 in the Academic Center for the Study of Northern Native Cultures of the Yamal- Nenets autonomous area, then applied for postgraduate work at the University of Tomsk, West Siberia, in order to be able to teach Native children the differences between traditional and academic visual arts.

    “When I drew the...

  13. NaDeZda TaLIGIna A PORTFOLIO OF TEN DRAWINGS
    (pp. 67-77)
  14. YurI VaeLLa (TAIGA NENETS)
    (pp. 78-79)

    Like Yeremei Aipin, Yuri Kilevich (Aivaseda) Vaella was born in the village of Varyogan in West Siberia in 1948. He is of the taiga Nenets people, who historically lived along the Pur River. During the Civil War of 1918–19, however, growing increasingly destitute, the Nenets moved south from the tundra to the Agan River in the taiga forest and adopted the culture of the Khanty reindeer people. Aivaseda takes his pseudonym—Vaella—from an ancient taiga Nenets clan.

    Vaella’s first teacher was his grandmother, who introduced him to the oral tradition. As a teenager, Vaella spent a number of...

  15. AT THE BUS STOP
    (pp. 80-80)

    Trolley Route 29. Moscow. Early morning.

    Final stop, Dynamo Stadium.

    I am standing by the booth at the bus stop reading scraps of newspaper ads:

    “Exchange.”

    “Urgent exchange . . .”

    “Separation.”

    “Needed: 3-room apartment with balcony facing South. In 5 years a new Metro line will reach here. . . .”

    “5-room apartment, with a lounge, in exchange for 2 apartments. Any kind, one must be in or near Moscow, another—any part of Russia.”

    And suddenly I think: has it come to that? One day where the reindeer paths cross my clansmen will implore:

    “Family split, exchanging tipis...

  16. WATCHING TV
    (pp. 81-82)

    What joy in camp today!

    My uncle has a new dweller in his tipi—a TV set.

    The fire cracks in the stove, children scramble in front, and grandpa sits in shadows cradling his chin.

    On a blue screen one movie follows another, fears, sobs, and songs, smiles of the Big World pouring into this small one.

    And grandpa keeps his silence, sitting in shadows, knitting his eyebrows, cradling his chin.

    The parachute over the waterfall hovers, hovers like a little cloud, a bird, a dandelion, changing the expression on the faces of my aunt, my children, my uncle, my...

  17. ON THINGS ETERNAL (from a poetic cycle)
    (pp. 83-83)

    You are your native country you are your native country’s eyes and mind and conscience and heart and so there’s no excuse if your country by your idleness turns into camps decaying from time, into cold and deserted orphaned hearths where even the wind has nothing to latch on to no place to spend the night, where the lonely beast searching for food or carrion stumbles upon it in hunger.

    Only the wind-beaten cradle will remind you of the child’s cry, of lullabies sung by wise gray-haired women, and the unrealized life of a lost people....

  18. TO THE BEAR (from The Bear Feast)
    (pp. 84-84)

    “After your paw was shot off, didn’t Nature become one-handed, didn’t Nature become half-handed?”

    “Through the muzzle of the rifle aimed at you, looking back out of the taiga forest attentively, do you think us improved?”...

  19. SONG OF THE REINDEER BREEDER
    (pp. 85-85)

    I’d like to be a raindrop and adorn your eyelashes.

    Nga-die!Nga-die!

    I’d like to be a snowflake and rest on your fur collar, afraid to touch the warmth of your neck.

    Nga-die!Nga-die!

    And when you rush along in a sledge and the snowy expanses sing to you, I’d like to be a smile, lighting your face.

    Nga-die!Nga-die!...

  20. ETERNAL SKY (from “Spring Triptych 3”)
    (pp. 86-87)

    What do lovers need?

    The sky, one heart to another, the sky as seen through happy tears.

    Why does a woman smile after childbirth?

    Because the sky lifts the window curtains like wings, the sky fills the whiteness of the nursery with the song of cranes.

    What does a newborn need?

    The sky in his eyes and a voice reaching to the sky.

    What do parents dream of?

    Their children looking straight into the sky instead of staring at their shoes when talking to friends.

    What do we wish a man for his journey?

    The sky in front the sky...

  21. THE LITTLE SHAMAN AND OTHER STORIES (from Ischetka)
    (pp. 88-89)

    Once upon a time, two old men—one Nenets, one Khanty—were telling stories as they traveled by boat down a river. The old Nenets was called Yavunko by the Khanty people because he was as well known and respected among them as among his own clansmen. Likewise, the old Khanty was called Capitjaay by the Nenets. The two old men were great friends and Great Storytellers, each capable of casting a spell on ordinary listeners and master storytellers alike.

    At one point the river turned in a large loop before continuing downstream. If you paddled the length of the...

  22. MORNING AT THE LAKE
    (pp. 90-90)

    Two mists happened to meet by the lake. One was from the lake itself—a pink one. The other—a purple one—came from the forest.

    “Who are you?” the first one asked.

    “I am the mist,” the second replied.

    “But I’m the mist, too.”

    “Then why don’t I see you?”

    “I don’t see you either . . .”

    And all the while a young deer lay in a nearby thicket, chewing grass, eyes closed, seeing and hearing everything....

  23. FYODOR THE HUNTER
    (pp. 91-92)

    “They say you’re making a museum.”

    “Sort of . . .”

    “Bringing houses from the camps into the village?”

    “Yes.”

    “Did you bring thelabazof the late Kazamin Fyodor?”

    “Not yet . . .”

    “Then let me tell you a story, and whatever your response, I’ll say: ‘It’s merely the Apocalypse.’ ”

    At the time of the war with Hitler the hunters and fishermen of Siberia became very important. Those who weren’t good at hunting and fishing were sent to the front. And those who came home—some armless, some legless—said how hard it was there. Pure Apocalypse!...

  24. NEWS FROM VATYEGAN CAMP
    (pp. 93-93)

    “Old Man Ustya of the Aivaseda clan had a disaster last winter.”

    “What happened?”

    “He was hunting for squirrels in the Vatyegan forests, right where the oil pipeline cuts through, and as the deer team pulled his sledge across a frozen lake the ice suddenly gave way.

    Dehai-hov!

    “He said he wasn’t worried. He knew that the lake there is breast deep for deer. So he pointed the leader toward the nearest woods, but all at once the deer were covered in black slime, and then his own boots and coat turned black. The smell set his head spinning—‘Pure...

  25. GaLIna KePTuKe (EVENK)
    (pp. 94-94)

    Galina Keptuke, a prose writer of the Evenk people, was born in the village of Kukushka, Amur Oblast, East Siberia, in 1951. She takes her name, which means “animal tracker,” from a clan that in ancient times migrated through the Amur region along the Jeltula River. The Evenks, who number twenty-nine thousand people, live in the huge area between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Irtysh River. Keptuke’s forefathers were hunters and shamans.

    From 1969 to 1974 Keptuke did her undergraduate studies at the Leningrad Hertzen Pedagogical Institute, then went to work as a schoolteacher in Yakutia, regularly visiting the...

  26. A DISCOVERY (from On the Banks of the Jeltula)
    (pp. 95-105)

    How I love you, oh clear and light Jeltula! Once again we meet, but this time I see the rushing streams at your headwaters. Big trout hide in your deep pools, salmon leap through your sparkling shallows, ducks nest in your coastal lakes. And now, on your sandy beaches—the voices of children!

    Your shores are good, the ground firm; reindeer hooves sound clearly where you flow. No mist or marsh dulls you, and birch groves stretch for miles along your way.

    The summer covering of our lodge is full of holes, so Father will strip much birch bark here;...

  27. THE UNEXPECTED GUEST (from On the Banks of the Jeltula)
    (pp. 106-125)

    All summer we have been migrating along the right bank of the Jeltula River. Now we must cross to the other side. But in order to do so, we have to get to the very headwaters, to cross the divide by the grave of Granddaddy Paskene.

    I never saw Granddaddy Paskene alive. I only know of him through the stories of my father, mother, Old Man Charikte, and Sile. He died when Sile was just three or four, but Sile told me he remembers him well. He remembers his tales, thenimnakans. Granddaddy Paskene could tell stories all night long—...

  28. LITTLE AMERICA
    (pp. 126-154)

    She hadn’t been back to her native grounds for a long time. And now she was returning for good. For almost fifteen years she’d been away from home, living in the Ukraine, having married ahoholfrom “Hohland” as he called himself, making fun of the traditional Ukrainian haircut, the shaven head with a single lock—ahohol—left on top.

    She was returning alone, without her son. He wouldn’t let her take their son, who had come to resemble his father. He’d inherited nothing from her—not the eyes, not the nose, not the color of his hair. At...

  29. GennaDY DYaCHKOV (YUKAGIR)
    (pp. 155-155)

    Gennady Dyachkov (1945–1983) was born among the Yukagir (Odul) people of Siberia. The Yukagirs, who number fewer than twelve thousand, are considered to be among the oldest ethnic natives of East Siberia. Their traditional economy was based on hunting wild deer and moose, catching fish, and trapping small fur-bearing animals.

    Dyachkov served for four years in the Russian Navy on the Pacific, then studied at Moscow State University, graduating with a degree in humanities. He later lived and worked in the Siberian village of Nelemnoye of the Upper Kolyma region, in the Yakut Autonomous Republic now known as Sakha...

  30. THE HUNTER’S SON: A ONE-ACT PLAY
    (pp. 156-164)

    He is sixty years of age, dressed in animal skins of the taiga forest.

    He is thirty-five years of age, dressed in modern denim.

    The hunter’s grandson, age twelve, dressed like his grandfather.

    A riverbank in Siberia, near the taiga forest. A teakettle and pot hang over the fire, stage center. Dishes sit on an empty crate that serves as a table. To the rear is a tent. The hunterandThe hunter’s sonsit by the fire, each plucking feathers from a wild duck. There is a small radio nearby, and pieces of wood on the ground.

    Summer. The present....

  31. VLaDImIr SanGI (NIVKH)
    (pp. 165-166)

    Vladimir Sangi, born in 1935, is a Nivkh writer, folklorist, and political activist from the Pacific Coast region near Sakhalin Island, where his ancestors have lived for centuries. He was born in the Nabil camp, on the east coast of Sakhalin Island and grew up during World War II. Of his early years he says, “From my childhood I remember two things: hunger and folktales.” His mother and grandmother told the children stories to dull the pangs of their hunger. By the age of eight Sangi was hunting in order to support his family, but all of the elders had...

  32. MY FIRST SHOT
    (pp. 167-174)

    It was very long ago, but I will remember that day forever. I had just turned eight. I remember the date not because my birthday was celebrated in any special way. In my childhood the Nivkh people didn’t celebrate birthdays. That was a custom my kinsmen adopted from the Russians much later. All other holidays passed unnoticed as well, without the traditional brightness and joy, because all the men were gone from our village. Only the weak old men and women remained. For a long time the hearts of the elders hadn’t stirred to the splash of an oar; for...

  33. MarIa VaGaTOVa (KHANTY)
    (pp. 175-176)

    A Native Siberian of the Khanty people, Maria Vagatova is a poet and storyteller. The oldest of twelve children in the family of a reindeer breeder, she was born in 1936 in a taiga forest village near the Kazym River, a tributary of the Ob, and spoke only Khanty until the age of seven. She called her grandfather her first teacher of literature and later took his family name as her nom de plume.

    Following her graduation from the Khanty-Mansiisk Pedagogical Institute in 1965, Vagatova organized and led a Native folksong group while working as a teacher. The Khanty poet...

  34. MY WORD, MY TONGUE
    (pp. 177-177)

    If I couldn’t hear my own words, if I didn’t know my own language:

    who would listen?

    How on Earth would I live?

    Every branch of the tree of language is sacred to my people:

    the smallest root of my words binds the threads of their hearts.

    If I couldn’t hear my own words, if I didn’t know my own language:

    who would listen?

    How on Earth would I live?...

  35. RIVER MOSUM, MY WATER
    (pp. 178-178)

    River Mosum, my water, I have adorned you with ski trails.

    River Mosum, my land, I have planted you with footpaths.

    I have carried on you heavy loads of red hides, heavy loads of white hides, every one!

    And now old age has claimed me.

    Old age has taken this woman.

    The twin barrels of my shotgun are rusted.

    My two-barreled shotgun is rusty.

    The tracks I’ve left on land and water are snow covered two fathoms deep.

    The paths I’ve blazed on land and water are overgrown with thick moss.

    Old age has claimed me.

    Old age has taken...

  36. DIRGE FOR THE LAND OF THE KHANTY
    (pp. 179-180)

    My forests, adorned with necklaces of many-colored beads, my groves of waving rushes in rust-colored bogs—all lie trodden and trampled, swallowed and devoured by the greedy mouth of quicksand.

    My embroidered rainbow ribbons of many-colored cloth lie trampled in black bogs.

    Multilayered, many-colored shades of rainbow hues have been stomped into black silt.

    I hear the wail of Mother Earth:

    “They have pulled the hairs from my head one by one, they have yanked out many strands one by one.

    The ornaments of my headdress fall apart.

    My rainbow necklaces have been plucked out by the roots.

    My very...

  37. THE PEOPLE OF TUK’YAKANG VILLAGE
    (pp. 181-182)

    I make my way to Tuk’yakang Village, gazing deep into the land from the seat of my sledge.

    Rows of trees, covering high hilltops like a patterned ribbon, draw nearer.

    I gaze deep into the land where green trees thrive. I grasp them with my eyes and wonder.

    Happiness fills my soul.

    My heart embraces lake after lake, strewn like a necklace, and wonders.

    Rivers and streams run in patterns.

    Their circles and arches are highways where fish live and travel.

    I see them moving along with me.

    These are the homes of fish heavy with caviar.

    I find boat...

  38. STONE SOLDIER
    (pp. 183-184)

    A stone soldier makes his home in the green forest:

    the sun is his fireplace, the sky is his roof.

    Mother Earth has drunk the hot blood he shed.

    The people have hidden his heart from his enemies.

    They were unable to kill him.

    Because of him there is light on this Earth.

    Because of this light he lives in every heart with warmth and joy.

    Because of him the ice melts every spring.

    The lives he has protected become the fresh floods of spring, and in the splash of that water I hear his song:

    “You, too, are soldiers....

  39. AN OLD ANTHILL
    (pp. 185-187)

    That old anthill looks like a forlorn yurt, abandoned, its roof caved in.

    No ants remain, just passageways, their living nerves woven round about.

    These are their walking paths overgrown with grass and moss.

    I see hunters and fishermen seeking this yurt, bringing their people to hunt and fish in the forests, lakes, and rivers.

    How many needles and twigs they have gathered!

    How often this ant-clan walked these ways!

    How much energy it took to build this anthill!

    I see their ancestors:

    what strength they needed in their arms and legs to build this vibrant house!

    Leaves, pine needles,...

  40. GennaDY RaISHeV (KHANTY)
    (pp. 188-194)

    Gennady Raishev, born in 1933, is the son of a Khanty hunter whose family survived World War II and the famine that followed by hunting.

    In 1954, Raishev began his studies at Hertzen University in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), specializing in literature. After his second year he began classes at the evening art school, ultimately graduating with dual certificates. Although he pursued his art in Surgut, in West Siberia, in the Ural Mountains, and elsewhere, his first important solo exhibition did not occur until 1988, in Sverdlovsk and Tyumen. In the 1990s his gift as an artist received national recognition...

  41. JanSI KImOnKO (UDEGEH)
    (pp. 195-196)

    Jansi Kimonko (1905–1949) was the first writer to emerge among the Udegeh, a native people numbering about two thousand who live in the woodlands in the Far South of Eastern Siberia, near the Sea of Okhotsk. Their territory is close to the Amur River and the present city of Khabarovsk. Kimonko represents the older generation of emerging authors among the Native Siberian peoples. He was born on the banks of the Sukpai River and spent his childhood hunting in the taiga forest. During the Civil War of 1918–19, he helped the Red Revolutionary forces, working as a guide....

  42. From WHERE THE SUKPAI RUSHES ALONG
    (pp. 197-199)

    Oh, Sukpai River—native land of my father and grandfathers! My forefathers discovered you. Following the tracks of the otter, they came to you from the Samarga River. They came to your very headwaters, first ascending magnificent mountains to get through the pass, a pass glistening with rocks, a pass lower than Ulia, the greatest of all Sukpai summits. At the crest, long ago, there was a lake, now but a white crater. You can see the stars on clear days from high on Ulia.

    Who knows when it was? The ancient stories are as dim as the light of...

  43. Anna NerKaGI (TUNDRA NENETS)
    (pp. 200-201)

    Born in 1952, Anna Nerkagi is a Nenets writer from the Yamal Peninsula in the Far North of West Siberia. After graduating from Tyumen Industrial University, she published her first autobiographical story, “Aniko of the Nogo Clan,” in 1977. Then she faced a life crisis. Influenced by the American author Jack London and his writings of the Alaskan North, Nerkagi was torn between her career as a writer and the traditional life of her people.

    From Tyumen, Nerkagi returned to the Yamal Peninsula, dividing her time between her writing and the traditional nomadic life of a reindeer owner. She recorded...

  44. From THE HORDE
    (pp. 202-209)

    I am afraid of my own prophecies because my presentiments come true. This requires caution with the Word, especially with the one that comes from the spirit at the peak of elation, like a strange illness. When the mind is hot, the inner vision sees things that go unnoticed in a normal state. Then it is possible to see all, to tell all. The mind captures the tiniest grains of thought, yet I can’t remember the gift of sight. I can’t remember my eyes at all. It’s as if I were blind. No letters, no words, no lines—nothing is...

  45. LeOnTY TaraGuPTa (KHANTY)
    (pp. 210-210)

    A Khanty poet and folklorist, Leonty Taragupta was born in 1945 in the village of Poslovy in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous region. Educated at the Teacher’s College of Salekhard and the Chelyabinsk Cultural Institute, he has been recording Khanty folklore since 1975. He is a member of the Academic Institute of the Yugra-Obs people in Salekhard, where he now lives. Taragupta devotes his time to restoring the ancient Khanty Bear Feast epic and native philosophy, as well as restoring the art of making native musical instruments. The song and prayer below were recorded from the Yamal fisherman Peter Yarkin in the...

  46. SON OF THE SKY (sacred song of the Bear Feast, of the first hunt and origin of the ritual)
    (pp. 211-212)

    Inherited by the Son of the mighty Master of Towns, inherited by the Son of the mighty Master of Hamlets, the antlered deer covered with sweat through the long summer through the gadfly season were released into the forest as the World turned to the time of the autumn hunt.

    When the Father of the Seventh Sky sent sable snow to the people, the snow marked with sable tracks, the Son of the Master of Towns, the Son of the Master of Hamlets remembered his deer, remembered his herd.

    In the ice he noticed distant deer tracks.

    Coming closer, he...

  47. THE PRAYER OF THE BEAR
    (pp. 213-217)

    O Father of the Seven Skies—I too have been a God-spirit, descendant of the bright ancestor, descendant of the all-hearing ancestor, though set upon the firmament of the Earth!

    But the Son of the Master of Towns—is he your Father’s heir?

    the Son of the Master of the Hamlets—is he your Mother’s heir?

    O Father of the Seven Skies?

    Please send down ten mighty animals from the abundant celestial pastures!

    And ten mighty animals did descend.

    I hear the Son of the Master of Towns went into the woods.

    Like the crack of the briar nut...

  48. YurI RYTKHeu (CHUKCHEE)
    (pp. 218-219)

    Yuri Rytkheu (1930–2008), a Chukchee writer, was born in the small village of Uelen on the Chukotka Peninsula, the easternmost extremity of the Siberian Russian Arctic. His heritage was that of a coastal big-sea game-hunting and warrior culture. His name—rit-geu—which he received from his grandfather, means the Unknown One. Ironically, such anonymity would be reversed during the course of his long career.

    After seven years of school, Rytkheu went to live in the neighboring Eskimo village of Naukan to hunt walrus. He worked various odd jobs in the area, finally making his way to the major local...

  49. KAKOT’S NUMBERS
    (pp. 220-238)

    When Amundsen decided to take Kakot as his cook, the Chukchees came on board theMaudto plead with him to change his mind, suggesting he choose another man.

    Kakot himself stood aside, keeping silent, his face full of deliberation and suffering. His eyes traced the wandering shoreline of Stoneheart Point, beyond the harbor where theMaud, locked in ice, was spending the winter. The mere idea that he would leave this gray ship was unbearable to him.

    “You don’t want to go?” Amundsen asked him.

    Kakot nodded silently.

    “I can take someone else,” Amundsen said. Without a word, Kakot...

  50. EVENK INVOCATION FOR GOOD FORTUNE TO NATURE, WHEN THE GREEN RECEDES
    (pp. 239-240)

    Dear Mother, your golden ears have heard my words resound like the cawing of the crows. You have seen me from beneath your dense brows. Don’t worry, dear Mother. Please don’t think that I’ve come with bad news. Your little children, the birds, who have found refuge on your warm bosom, depart now happy, for you have heard our words and fed us the entire summer, and set before us the bounty of your golden table....

  51. A NOTe On TranSLaTIOn
    (pp. 241-245)
    Claude Clayton Smith

    Alexander Vaschenko once told a reporter that contemporary Siberia represents a “Wild East” similar to America’s “Wild West.” Archaeologists and Native American scholars have long believed that the “Indians” migrated to North America from Siberian regions, across a land bridge through the Bering Strait to Alaska; settlement by way of sea travel has been posited as well, from both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Today, Native peoples of this vast region find their way of life threatened by oil spills, industrial pollution, and forest fires, even as the collapse of the former Soviet Union opens new and exciting opportunities to...

  52. ACKnOWLeDGmenTS
    (pp. 246-247)
  53. SuGGeSTIOnS FOr FurTHer ReaDInG
    (pp. 248-251)
  54. Back Matter
    (pp. 252-252)