Before it was written, this book was spoken. For ten winter days in 1977, the orator Paul John-widely respected as a dean of Yup'ik elders, and recognized for his tireless advocacy of Yup'ik language and traditions-held an audience of Yup'ik students rapt at Nelson Island High School, in southwest Alaska. Hour after hour he spoke to the young people, sharing life experiences and Yup'ik narratives, never repeating a tale. Now, more than a quarter-century after Paul John's extraordinary performance, Sophie Shield's translations and Ann Fienup-Riordan's editing have brought his words back to life, and to a new audience. This book records one elder's attempt to create a moral universe for future generations through stories about the special knowledge of the Yup'ik people.
Tales both authentically Yup'ik and marked by Paul John's own unique innovations are presented in a bilingual edition, with Yup'ik and English text presented in facing pages. As Paul John says, "In this whole world, whoever we are, if people speak using their own language, they will be presenting their identity and it will be their strength." 24 illus.