What’s a Storyknife?

Before you ask:

A storyknife is the English translation for the Yupik word yaaruin.  Traditionally, young Yupik girls would use yaaruin, made from wood or bone or antler or ivory, to carve stories in snow and in river banks to amuse their younger siblings. The stories were usually teaching stories, which featured children who disobeyed their parents and who were then killed and eaten by monsters.

Dana says, “I came across mention of storyknives in one of the early explorer diaries (I think it was Dall), and I couldn’t rest until I knew more. Since then I have featured storyknives in the Kate Shugak series and the Liam Cambell series and even in the Star Svensdotter series. As a traditional Alaska Native vehicle for storytelling, it is the perfect metaphor for what we hope to accomplish at Storyknife.”

This is the storyknife made by Alaskan artist Rick Lonsdale and given to Dana by her best friend Kathy just before they went downstairs to attend the Edgar awards ceremony in New York City.

Dana was wearing it when she won her Edgar for A Cold Day for Murder.

And it is now the logo for Storyknife Writers Retreat.

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