Wednesday, April 13, 2022


Deer Stones of Northern Mongolia
Jamsranjev Bayarsaikhan

June 2022
288 pages, 8 x 10 1/4"
$25, paperback

ISBN 978-1-7366902-4-6

When our joint Mongolian-American Deer Stone Project began there was little world-wide recognition that nomadic pastoral societies offered an alternative pathway to civilization and empire. Today we recognize the formative nature of Mongolia’s Late Bronze Age culture in the transition from chiefly societies to states and eventually to empires. Deer stones stand proudly as the monumental evidence of this shift, memorializing its leaders and attesting to its social order, artistic capabilities, and complex belief system. Two thousand years after they were erected, Genghis Khan rode among deer stones and must have marveled at the heritage they signified. Today we do the same, recognizing also that there is still much more to learn from these ancient cultural icons. Bayarsaikhan’s study provides the path toward the broader anthropological meaning of deer stone stones and their art and iconography, not as ornaments from a vanished people but as highly visible historical and cultural monuments that enrich understandings of Mongolia in the past, present, and future.

William Fitzhugh, from the Introduction

A joint publication with the Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Institution

Monday, August 9, 2021



Rise Up
By Nauja Lynge  

Winter 2021  
256 pages, 5 1/4 x 7 3/4"
$25, paperback

ISBN 9781736690215 

Rise Up is a novel about the inequalities that Greenlanders and Faroese experience in Denmark. It is a tribute to Greenlandic and Danish politicians who attempt to heal fractures and a rebuke to the part of the Danish population that still assists in perpetuating negative stereotypes.

Originally published in Denmark by Byens Forlag, and translated by Kristian Borten, this is Nauja Lynge's second novel addressing the unaccepted cultural differences continuing to plague native northern peoples within the Danish realm.


Monday, March 8, 2021

The New Perlustration of Greenland
By Hans Egede

May 2021
224 pages, 5.75 x 7.5"
$25, paperback

ISBN 978-1-7366902-0-8

In the beginning of the 18th century there still was hope of finding Norse descendants among the Eskimo in Greenland. A Norwegian clergyman, Hans Egede, having managed to persuade the authorities that such people should be converted to the Lutheran faith, arrived in the Godthåb Fjord (in the southwest) to begin a new European settlement in Greenland, but found only Eskimo.

The history of modern Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat) can be traced to this voyage in 1721. He discovered no survivors of the old colonists, but stayed to found his own settlement at Godthåb (now Nuuk) and to begin the development of the country and its Inuit people.


The Story of Katrine
by Maliaraq Vebaek

Translated from Danish by Susan Stanley

May 2021
128 pages, 4.25 x 7.5"
$20, paperback
ISBN 978-0-9967480-9-4

The Story of Katrine tells the story of a young Greenlandic woman who falls in love with a Danish craftsman, who works in Greenland over a summer. When he returns to Denmark, Katrine follows him because she thinks they should get married, having had their child. It will be a big disappointment for her, but she stays in Denmark!

A dramatic and sad tale of cultural unity and oppression of women. This story, which is fictionalized here,
is unfortunately not unknown for Greenlanders in Denmark.

First edition in English.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Praise for "The Man Who Became a Caribou"

Reviewed by Tok Thompson, University of Southern California, in the Journal of Folklore Research, 10 September 2020

“Caribou are how we survive and are integral to who we are and how we define ourselves. Caribou are our stories, our soul, the food on our table, our clothes, and our tools” (Gwich’in Sam Alexander, 2017, testimony before the US Senate, quoted on page 37).

One of the difficulties of reviewing this work is in giving a succinct phrase stating what, exactly, this work is. It could perhaps be described as a compendium of caribou lore from the Gwich’in people of northern Alaska and Canada. The word “lore” is useful, here, precisely because of its wide semantic range. Lore can include narratives, to be sure, such as the central story that gives the book its title, but it can also include all sorts of other knowledge—crafts, beliefs, skills, names, customs, taboos, and all the rest of the realm of folklore. This book, likewise, spans an enormous range of aspects all related to the caribou in Gwich’in culture. In this sense, though, “compendium” might be a bit misleading, as this is not simply a collection of lore on a particular topic. Rather, this book investigates a resplendent set of cultural elaborations on the most central figure of Gwich’in identity and culture, showing how Gwich’in life is entwined, practically and spiritually, with the caribou. In this sense, investigating the slippage between the human and caribou provides an emically centered ethnography of the Gwich’in, giving great insight into their culture, language, and lifeways.

Most of the material comprising the book was drawn from interviews conducted in Gwich’in, a severely endangered language. The book is largely presented bilingually, which by itself is a significant accomplishment and a wonderful addition to the limited corpus of bilingual (Gwich’in/English) materials.

The book is superbly researched and presented. The introduction by Craig Mishler is a very helpful overview of the manuscript, detailing the overall approaches in methodology as well as the Gwich’in territory, language, worldviews, and lifestyles. The work is richly illustrated, with art, artifacts, and maps, alongside photographs of the collaborators, the fieldwork process, and myriad representations of life, and caribou, in Gwich’in territory. Several appendices are dedicated to explication of the linguistic features.

Such a holistic view gives a rich perspective of the topic at hand, repeatedly demonstrating the multiple ways in which caribou lore intersects with Gwich’in identity, culture, worldviews, and community. In this way, this work acts as a culturally appropriate explication of Gwich’in culture as a whole.

For example, the story that the authors use as a title, “The Man who Became A Caribou,” is, among other things, an ethnogenesis of the Neets’it (Neets’uk) Gwich’in band. In the story, a man went to live with the caribou, who were his spirit animal, transforming himself into one, and learning of their ways. Later, the man returns to his human form, and instructs people on the proper relationship between the Neets’it Gwich’in and the caribou. Mishler states: “This ancient story, which we regard with reverence, provides a framework and underpinning for all of the other traditional knowledge about caribou,” and that “As a folktale, it serves as the emotional and spiritual center for all of the other discourses which follow” (51). While I disagree with the nomenclature (I would categorize the story—and many other stories in this work—as myth and not folktale), this recognition of the intrinsic sacredness of the story, detailing the experiences of a man who became a caribou, captures the essence of what it is to be Gwich’in.

Mishler notes that this story is part of a larger matrix found in Native American and Siberian narratives, wherein a specific relationship between one species and one group of humans is formed by experiences of a person who has spent time with both species and in both communities. Whether this should be seen as oikotypical variation, or as polygenesis resulting from similar overarching worldviews, may be difficult to discern, as there is likely a fair bit of both involved. For example, the Haida rely on salmon, and it is thus no surprise that “Salmon Boy,” the story of a boy who spent time with the salmon before returning to the people to instruct them, parallels “The Man Who Became A Caribou” in important ways.

The authors are careful to point out, too, that this feature is by no means confined to, or by, the past. Rather, the practices, narratives, and knowledge persist today as vibrant, dynamic traditions, enmeshed in change (guns, snow machines) as well as constancy (most vividly, the role of the caribou themselves: the average hunter harvests about thirteen caribou per year, with caribou remaining the predominant foodstuff for Gwich’in people (37).

It should also be pointed out that this way of life is now under constant threat, as petroleum interests in particular clamor to carve up more and more of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for petroleum extraction, which the Gwich’in see as threatening the caribou—and especially their summer calving grounds. The Gwich’in spend much of their time fighting such interests in legal and political battles, a far cry from their preferred lifestyle of subsistence hunting, yet once again they display their advocacy for the safety and sacredness of the Porcupine caribou herd, as shown throughout this book.

The Man Who Became A Caribou is truly a standout, stellar work: a book which succeeds on all sorts of levels, from its careful bilingual presentation to its insightful emic analyses. Beyond those interested in Gwich’in people, this work should be of interest to anyone interested in indigenous rights, Native conceptions of ethical and spiritual lives, and the ongoing tensions between global capitalism and the sustainability of life on earth. In terms of theory, this work sets a high standard for folklore research with indigenous communities, and it also opens up new ways of conceptualizing the presentation of non-Western cultures. The authors should be roundly congratulated for such an achievement, and I hope that this book gains the national and international recognition it so justly deserves.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Native Greenlander
Illustrated by Aron of Kangeq

Translated from Danish by Susan Stanley
192 pages
11 illustrations and 2 maps

5 1/2 x 6 7/8"
December 2019

ISBN 9780996748087
$20, paperback

This volume of tales, collected from native Greenlanders by Heinrich Rink, is the translation of the first book printed in Greenland. Over a five year span, Rink collected these tales from throughout Greenland, although mainly in the southern area.

The remarkable oral tradition of the Inuit, affected by few outside influences, is traced through their history on the land. Many of the stories describe the clashes between the Norse and the Inuit. Rink recognized that some of the tales existed in the realm of pure myth, but that others represented recollections, passed from one generation to the next, of events many centuries earlier.

Translated from Danish, this is the first English translation of these stories. Illustrations are by Aron of Kangeq, a sealer and walrus hunter who lived at the Moravian mission at the small trading station of Kangeq. His illustrations of the oral storytelling tradition have gained status as a symbol of the new artistic tradition developed in Greenland in the mid-19th century.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Man Who Became a Caribou
by Craig Mishler and Kenneth Frank

480 pages

16 pages color photographs
Illustrations throughout

6 5/8 x 9 1/2"

October 2019

ISBN 9780996748070

$37.50, paperback

Dinjii Vadzaih Dhidlit: The Man Who Became a Caribou is a new bilingual volume based on a series of oral interviews with Gwich'in elders living in rural northeast Alaska and the Yukon Territory. Richly illustrated, the book covers a wide range of topics based on traditional harvesting and use of caribou from ancient to contemporary times. It also reveals traditional beliefs and taboos about caribou and includes a detailed naming system for caribou anatomy.

Recording the traditional ethnoscientific knowledge Gwich’in elders have about caribou in their oral narratives and in their hunting lexicon has far-reaching implications for zooarchaeology, for applied linguistics, for wildlife co-management, and for folklore and cultural anthropology. It is an empirical approach which essentially weds natural science with the humanities, osteology with verbal art. The topics included herein form a nucleus of many specialized study areas such as linguistic anthropology, zoosemiotics, ethnoscience, ethnozoology, osteology, and cultural ecology. And the Gwich’in ways of hunting, butchering and processing, preserving, storing, cooking, serving, tasting, and sharing food from the caribou, are all key elements in an ecological knowledge system. 
--from the Introduction

While there has been attention to caribou, I do not know of any work that looks at caribou in this way, drawing on the knowledge of the Gwich’in (or any other northern group) in such a deep and first-hand way. The book spans many important areas, including what in western science would be identified as natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. It makes outstanding contributions in these areas. It also still stands out in the overt recognition of the importance of the unfiltered voices of those who live with the caribou.

--Keren Rice, University of Toronto

This manuscript is an extensive collection of narratives. It presents an abundance of new data on an endangered language with extraordinary detail, grammatical and discursive. It also makes a critical contribution to the resources indigenous communities have for developing curriculum materials and institutionalizing indigenous studies in schools and elsewhere. Finally, it provides an amazing compendium of knowledge for resource management in the subarctic. 

--Barbra Meek, University of Michigan