Ararapikva: Traditional Karuk Indian Literature from Northwestern California

Julian Lang, Editor Heyday Books $10.95 (112p) ISBN 978-0-930588-65-6
Folklorist Lang, himself a Karuk Indian, has packed more than a tantalizing collection of myths into this slim volume. In his introduction, he also provides the history of the tribe, a description of its way of life and details of its religion--all of which help the reader understand the stories that follow. For the Karuk, their stories, like everything in their universe, were living entities with power all their own. An account of why the yellowjacket wasp stings humans doubles as a healing story, helping children forget the pain of the injury as they listen. Another tale explains the origins of angelica root, the tribe's most powerful medicine, which was ordained to help people get over the grief of loss and death. The final piece records the ruminations of Karuk elders early in this century as they ponder what will become of their people and their ways. According to Lang, this myth still asks a pertinent question: ``What does it mean to be a traditional Indian in the last decade of the 20th century?'' One drawback here is the line-by-line presentation of Karuk with literal and modern English translations, a layout that is sometimes hard to read. Several archival photographs of Karuk life add to the volume's allure. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
Hardcover - 978-0-8095-4981-8
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