Northern elders illuminate the heart of Arctic life through stories of Kiviuq, the eternal Inuit wanderer.
How do shape-shifting shamans, a giant cannibalistic bumblebee, and human marriage with animals speak to Canadian Inuit and Siberian indigenous peoples today? How can artists present ancient legend in live performance and film with sensitivity to the source? Why are long multi-layered stories essential for adults and children in an age of commercial television?
After decades exploring Siberian cultures, Kira Van Deusen turned to the Canadian north to ask many such questions, looking at them through the versions of one of their most respected legends - that of hero/shaman Kiviuq, an Inuit counterpart to Homer's Odysseus - told by forty Inuit elders. The elders' voices engage us directly, inviting us to look at the unique qualities of arctic heroism and its application to present-day concerns. Rich details from each of the elders' families help explain interpersonal challenges to survival in the north and offer both practical and spiritual lessons. Van Deusen also points out intriguing cultural connections across the Bering Strait, past and present.
The first in-depth book on Inuit oral literature to appear in English in nearly a century, Kiviuq is a must-read for those interested in northern cultures, shamanism, oral storytelling, and cultural change.