This introductory chapter includes the author’s personal narrative of encounter with the songs and stories of olonkho during the years she lived in the coldest inhabited city on earth. The reader becomes acquainted with the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), its relationship to Russia, and its largest group of indigenous people, the Sakha (sometimes called “Yakut”). In addition to exploring a few of the complex translation issues for Russian-language terms in the book—Center, nation, and epic sreda—the chapter foregrounds Sakha voices as they reflect on the changes undergone by olonkho during pre-Soviet, Soviet, and post-Soviet periods and give their opinions about revitalization efforts for olonkho.
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