Spirit of A Northern PeopleBook - 1999
As soon as the Ainu became known outside Japan in the early 1800s, scholars recognized that their history was different from that of surrounding Japanese, Korean, and Siberian peoples. This book presents a broad range of contemporary scholarship on Ainu studies by leading European, American, and Japanese scholars, and by native Ainu artists and cultural leaders. Using materials from early, unpublished Ainu collections in North America, supplemented by archaeological, archival, and modern Ainu art from Japan, Ainu culture is presented here as a rich blend of traditional and modern belief.
Like other extant native cultures, the Ainu have survived by resisting political and economic pressure to assimilate. Although they have lost their northern lands and are confined largely to Hokkaido, their culture and language have recently received official recognition, in Japan and internationally. This book, jointly planned with scholars and the Ainu people, helps bring Ainu history, culture, and art into focus as a rich living tradition.
William Fitzhugh is director of the Arctic Studies Center and curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Chisato O. Dubreuil, of native Ainu descent, is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.