Epic of Qayaq

Epic of Qayaq: The Longest Story Ever Told by My People

Lela Kiana Oman
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 145
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  • Book Info
    Epic of Qayaq
    Book Description:

    This is a splendid presentation of an ancient northern story cycle, brought to life by Lela Kiana Oman, who has been retelling and writing the legends of the Inupiat of the Kobuk Valley, Alaska, nearly all her adult life. In the mid-1940s, she heard these tales from storytellers passing through the mining town of Candle, and translated them from Inupiaq into English. Now, after fifty years, they illuminate one of the world's most vibrant mythologies. The hero is Qayaq, and the cycle traces his wanderings by kayak and on foot along four rivers - the Selawik, the Kobuk, the Noatak and the Yukon - up along the Arctic Ocean to Barrow, over to Herschel Island in Canada, and south to a Tlingit Indian village. Along the way he battles with jealous fathers-in-law and other powerful adversaries; discovers cultural implements (the copper-headed spear and the birchbark canoe); transforms himself into animals, birds and fish, and meets animals who appear to be human.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7398-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Ann Chandonnet
    (pp. xiii-xxi)
    Priscilla Tyler and Maree Brooks

    THIS EPIC DESCRIBES QAYAQ'S WANDERINGS BY KAYAK and on foot along four rivers, the Selawik, the Kobuk, the Noatak and the Yukon, as well as up along the Arctic Ocean to Barrow and over to Herschel Island in Canada; finally he makes a short excursion south to a Tlingit Indian village.

    The epic reveals Qayaq as an adventure-loving wanderer who gradually assumes the role of doing good for people. He uses the supernatural powers his mother and father give to him to win in combat and overcome obstacles. He is also on the alert for contributions to the culture of...

    (pp. 1-2)
    Lela Kiana Oman

    A man and his wife found themselves on top of a mountain. With them was a dog. Where they came from they did not know. There were all kinds of animals around them. To the east of this mountain was another mountain. The two mountains were connected by a narrow neck of land. And all around there was water, water as far as their eyes could see.

    There were all kinds of good things to eat growing on the ground and it was easy for them to catch any kind of game they felt like eating.

    Children were born to...

  6. The Epic of Qayaq: The Longest Story Ever Told By My People
    (pp. 3-120)
    Lela Kiana Oman

    At this time, the days were long and the nights were short. Summers were long and the winters were short.

    In the lower valley of the Kobuk River lived two families beside a slough and two lakes that had no outlets. They were very strong and seemed to be well-off. One summer the children went off for a day of berry-picking. When they came home, they found their parents had been clubbed to death. Some giant, a killer, had come upon the two sets of parents and put an end to them. This frightened the children, even the grown children....

    (pp. 121-122)