IN this volume you will find 24 Koryak tales of the Mice Girls, of Whale Festivals, the Ermine People, Fox Woman, Fish Woman and Monster Man. Unlike any European Märchen, these stories do not have the dramatic turns of Western folk-lore. There is no Cinderella nor a Puss in Boots. The struggle for survival is the perpetual theme, and no wonder, for the narrators dwell in a distant and hostile land.

Koryaks are an indigenous north-east Asian people living mainly on the northern part of the Kamchatka peninsula in what is now the Russian Federation. The Koryak Autonomous Region is just a little larger than Arizona, and with a current population of fewer than 35,000 people. The Koryak were conquered by Cossack pioneer-adventurers in the end of the seventeenth century and more or less incorporated into the Russian empire by the middle of the eighteenth. The Tsar levied an annual fur tribute and demanded some transportation services, but otherwise left them alone. The Soviets collectivized their subsistence production, and Stalin's Terror saw many shamans and successful reindeer herders summarily executed.

The name Koryak was from the exonym word 'Korak' meaning 'with the reindeer (kor)'. Koryaks practice a form of animist belief system especially via shamanism. Koryak mythology centres around the supernatural shaman Quikil (Big-Raven) who was the first man and protector of the Koryak and who features prominently in this volume. Raven myths are also found in the Tlingit, Tsimshian, and other Northwest Coast Amerindians suggesting a broad cultural area stretching from current day Kamchatka across the Bering Strait into Alaska and Canada.

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