Synopses & Reviews
Shaman and Kushtaka, both struck terror in the hearts of the Tlingit and Haida, for both possessed frightening supernatural powers. Among the Natives of the Pacific Northwest Coast, the shaman was honored as a person who could heal the body and spirit as well as see into the future. In his struggles to protect his people, he fought the kushtaka---an evil spirit-being who was half human and half land hotter---for the souls of dying persons. Theirs was a battle between the forces of good and evil, and today it remains a cornerstone in Tlingit and Haida mythology. Mary Giraudo Beck provides a powerful mix of history, legend, and adventure to dramatize the values and traditions of Tlingit and Haida societies. The heroic and wondrous incidents in these stories transcend time and culture and, as tales of myth and magic, provide compelling reading for young and old alike.
""This is a book to treasure for its entertainment value and visual appeal."" ---Alaska magazine
""The author does an excellent job of catching the rhythms of oral storytelling and choosing unfamiliar stories with uncommon characters."" ---The Bloomsbubry Review
"Beck's volume of myths and magic is good reading and provides a fascinating window on the culture of the Tlingits and Haidas" ---Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
A powerful mix of history and legend dramatizes the values and traditions of Tlingit and Haida societies in Southeast Alaska.
“The stories in this work have been repeated to me by various Tlingit and Haida friends and students over the more than forty years I lived in Ketchikan. Often the tellers related only parts of the stories, or the same stories would be repeated with varying details and outcomes. Therefore, as a guide to retelling the basic story, I made use of several written sources, at the same time weaving in details or outcomes from oral sources.” ---From Acknowledgements, Mary G. Beck
About the Author
Mary G. Beck is a classical scholar (M.A. from Stanford) who has lived in Ketchikan, Alaska beginning in 1951 when she married a third-generation Alaskan. Besides rearing a family, she taught literature and writing courses for thirty years at Ketchikan Community College, a branch of the University of Alaska. Mary has an abiding interest in the Native culture of Southeast Alaska and a commitment to recording its oral literature. She is also the author of two other related titles, Heroes and Heroines in Tlingit-Haida Legend, and Potlatch: Native Ceremony and Myth on the Northwest Coast as well as articles on Native mythology and on travel by small boat to towns and Native communities in Southeast Alaska. She and her husband currently reside in Bellevue, Washington.