Book review of Xiipúktan (First of All)
Bryant, George and Miller, Amy. Xiipúktan (First of All): Three Views of the Origins of the Quechan People. Cambridge, UK: OpenBook Publishers, 2013. DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0037
Review submitted by Naomi Caldwell, PhD
Associate Professor and Coordinator, Library Education Media Program, Alabama State University
First of All is a remarkable collaborative work by George Bryant, a fluent native Quechan researcher, and Dr. Amy Miller, linguist, University of California, San Diego. Their combined expertise enables the reader to examine three traditional stories: two previously recorded in English by J.P. Harrington (1908), and one extended recalling by Bryant (1995). Notably, Bryant’s perspective differs from Harrington’s. The Bryant version synthesizes his childhood memories and the results of his research. Bryant tells of the Bering Strait migration of the Quechan people, elaborates on early events of creation, and fully integrates Quechan language rhetorical devices such as repetition, syntactic parallelism, and narrative time. In many ways, Bryant’s recalling completes the Harrington stories by infusing more Quechan cultural perspectives into the narrative. All three views of the origin of the Quechan are printed in parallel Quechan and English formatted text. The meticulous transcript review process is evidenced by notes at the end of each retelling. This single volume is made complete by providing a practical orthography along with pronunciation tips and grammar. The elegance of the three retellings illuminates the copious ingenuity and progression of Quechan literature. First of All is the fifth volume in the World Oral Literature series and is available in print, PDF, and digital eBook and mobi formats. It was made possible by National Science Foundation and Institute of Museum and Library Services Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services grants. Highly recommended for Native language and traditional story collections. First of All is freely available to read on-line.
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