Cover image for Raven and the rock : storytelling in Chukotka
Raven and the rock : storytelling in Chukotka
Van Deusen, Kira, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Seattle : University of Washington Press ; Edmonton : Canadian Circumpolar Institute Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 190 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GR203.2.C5 V36 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A girl marries a whale, and her story reminds the Siberian Yupik about humans' relationship with the animals who sustain them. A reindeer herder spends the winter in a bear's den, and his story shows the Chukchi how despair can become courage. For centuries, native Chukchi and Yupik elders in Chukotka, the northeasternmost part of Siberia, have spent endless winter nights recounting tales of the trickster Raven, of how people and places came to be created, of evil spirits and sorcerers, of transformation and magic. Through storytelling, they taught the history, worldview, beliefs, and morals of Chukchi and Yupik people.

Storyteller and folklorist Kira Van Deusen has collected traditional Chukchi and Yupik folktales from present-day Chukotka where indigenous people are reclaiming their traditions and identity after years under the assimilative forces of Soviet policy. In this book she presents twenty-five tales and legends in English translation.

These are old tales retold in modern settings. Their themes reveal much about contemporary concerns at a time when native Siberians are facing extreme economic hardships. They convey the values tellers admire and wish to pass on: the courage not to give up, wisdom and loyalty, the ability to find good in what appears evil, maintenance of good relationships with animals, and a sense of humor.

Together the tales provide a cross section of an oral tradition that is very much alive. Van Deusen grounds the stories in details of the tradition from which they spring, emphasizing what is unique in Chukchi and Yupik culture.

Author Notes

Kira Van Deusen is a researcher and writer who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Folklorist Van Deusen has assembled 25 legends from the oral tradition of the Chukkchi and Yupik cultures in eastern Siberia. Over centuries, native elders have captured their history, beliefs, perspectives, and morals in verbally transmitted stories handed down through generations. Like signposts, these traditional tales contain treasured truths of the past. Composed of brief vignettes, sections include stories about a young boy seeking a wife, Raven the Trickster and his merry pranks, shamanic pronouncements, and mythical fantasies. There is an implicit wisdom conveyed about living in harmony. This general anthology is a rare glimpse of varied tales from a most remote area. Recommended for academic libraries, specialized collections, and larger public libraries.--Richard K. Burns, MSLS, Hatboro, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Introductionp. 3
1 Anadyrp. 14
Raven and Foxp. 23
Wood Chipsp. 28
Mosquitoesp. 32
2 Kanchalanp. 34
The Skeletonp. 39
Raven, Kelye, and Harep. 41
Theft of the Sunp. 41
Kurkyl and Nuteneyutp. 51
The Stone Womanp. 54
3 Tavaivaamp. 57
How There Got to Be an Island in Anadyr Bayp. 60
Fish-Egg Facep. 66
Raven and Micep. 68
4 Provideniap. 74
The Man Who Wintered in a Bear's Denp. 79
Six Girls and the Giantp. 85
5 Chaplino Ip. 90
Eagle Peoplep. 94
Raven Koshklip. 99
Tsaimygyryn the Shamanp. 102
The Man Who Got Lost in the Fogp. 109
The Orphan with Sharp Handsp. 111
6 Chaplino IIp. 113
Yumimap. 114
The Girl Who Wintered in the Graveyardp. 117
Reindeer, Crow, and Evil Spiritp. 121
Scraping the Skyp. 122
Two Brothersp. 124
The Evil Yarangap. 127
7 Sirenikip. 130
The Girl Who Married a Whalep. 139
8 Nunligranp. 144
Life Stories and Songs
Notesp. 163
Glossaryp. 171
References Citedp. 172
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 175
Index of Motif Typesp. 177
General Indexp. 185