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

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, Jul 15, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 145 pages
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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.
 

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Contents

Where the Eskimo Came From
1
The Longest Story Ever told By My People
3
Qayaqs Life with his Parents
5
Qayaq Associates with Birds and Animals and a Man who Transforms into an Animal
9
Qayaq Visits the Umialiks Village The Influence of Ancestors Is Particularly Stressed
18
The Story of the Big Flood as it Was Told by Qayaqs Wife
24
How a Young Orphan Boy Grew Up to Be the Umialik whose Daughter Became Qayaqs Wife
45
Qayaq Receives the Uplifting Influence of Ptarmigans and Caribou
66
Qayaq Visits Two Communities One in Alaska and One in Canada
72
Qayaq Goes to a Western Community at the Mouth of the Yukon River and a Tlingit Village to the Southeast
111
Qayaq Visits the Headwaters of the Selawik River and Eventually Finds his Way Home
115
List of Plates
121
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