Dialogical Relationships and the Bear in Indigenous Poetry

in Sibirica
Stephan Dudeck Independent Scholar sdudeck@eu.spb.ru

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The essay provides a review of a small but remarkable book on the work of two important Native American and Siberian poets, Meditations after the Bear Feast by Navarre Scott Momaday and Yuri Vella, published in 2016 by Shanti Arts in Brunswick, Maine. Their poetic dialogue revolves around the well-known role of the bear as a sociocultural keystone species in the boreal forest zone of Eurasia and North America. The essay analyzes the understanding of dialogicity as shaping the intersubjectivity of the poets emerging from human relationships with the environment. It tries to unpack the complex and prophetic bear dream in one of Vella’s poems in which he links indigenous ontologies with urgent sociopolitical problems.

Contributor Notes

Stephan Dudeck is an anthropologist who conducted long-term anthropological fieldwork with Siberian reindeer herding communities. He completed his dissertation on the persistence of reindeer herders’ lifestyles in Western Siberia at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany, in 2011. His research deals with practices of hiding and avoidance; the relationship of indigenous people and oil companies; and the preservation of indigenous languages and traditional knowledge, oral history, Khanty bear ceremonialism, and human–animal relationships. E-mail: sdudeck@eu.spb.ru

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

  • Clayton Smith, Claude, with Alexander Vashchenko, trans., eds. 2010. The Way of Kinship: An Anthology of Native Siberian Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

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  • Meri, Lennart, dir. 1989. Toorumi Pojad [The sons of Torum]. Estonia: Eesti Telefilm.

  • Moldanova, Tatiana. 2001. Arkhetipy v mire snovidenii khantov. [Archetypes in the world of dreaming of the Khanty] Tomsk: Izd-vo TGU.

  • Scott Momaday, Navarre, and Yuri Vaella. 2016. Meditations after the Bear Feast. Trans. and ed. Alexander Vashchenko and Claude Clayton Smith. Brunswick, ME: Shanti Arts.

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  • Vella, Juri. 2016. Rakkauden maa: Runoja ja dialogeja [The land of love: Poems and dialogues] Trans. Karina Lukin. Kemi, Finland: Atrain.

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  • Vella, Yuri, and N. Scott Momaday. 2013. Razmyshleniia posle medvezh’ego igrishcha (dialogi) [Mediations after the Bear Feast (dialogues)]. Trans. A. V. Vashchenko. Khanty-Mansiisk, Russia: Yugrafika.

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