Submitted by: Yuri Klitsenko
A song by Nenets shaman Okotetto Yunko
Singer: Khudi (Yaptik) Yatti, born 1938 (who heard the song from Okotetto Yunko, born 1919), the settlement of Novy Port, 1993-1995
Here in this choom people gathered, Looking forward to be advised. They wish to learn of their people’s fate, Of live things, of fish in the sea, And of different forest game!
Keep quiet, you sitting in the choom! Hark! I can hear them coming! It’s my spirits flying on seven-winged bird. Hush! I see the sacred deer rushing.
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! I selected Seven-horned deer – Put my spirits-the-helper behind. Hey! Hey-ey-ey, he took me down a heavenly route, My sacred Seven-horned deer. Hey! Hey! I am high above, Far away from my choom I have gone.
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! There’s a Minley bird flying ahead, There are spirit-the-helpers behind. I’m rushing through heavenly routes.
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! I passed seven heavenly routes, Conquered Khansosyada eating up mind, Destructed Syudbya – the-human-eater. Crossed stone and copper hills. Crossed seven fiery streams. True, a hard travel I had.
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! O what is it? It hurts me to look! It’s shining, glittering, flaming! It’s all blazing with heat, The heat is burning my face!
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! I appealed to Great Noom Saying this: “O Great Noom, help us! We are tortured by evil spirits. Threatened with war by Nga himself. O Noom, your brother Great Nga Sends us cold and hunger, Sickness and death. O Great Noom, help us! Stop your brother Great Nga! It is only you, Great Noom, Who could stop him from doing harm. Otherwise, my people will die, And the earth will be lifeless and void”.
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! Now that Noom said his words It echoed like thunder-clap through the skies. Now that he looked up There flashed lightings above. “You, strong Okotetto shaman, So you have come to learn How to protect your men. The trouble came from behind copper hills, From strange, far away lands”.
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! This is what Great Noom said to me: “There is a stone in the middle of the earth, It looks as black as the night, It feels as cold as the ice, It was brought from foreign lands. Your people, shaman, were loyal men Who observed their ancestral law. But from behind copper hills, black people came. They brought trouble along with them, They destroyed our sacred sites”.
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! These words said Great Noom himself, May they stay in your souls and hearts: “Your trouble came from behind black hills. You are no longer observing your ways, Your cruel deeds make the nature cry, Your greedy ways make animals flee. None but you can avert bad luck, You must come to your own springs”.
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! Let me bring you the words by Great Noom: “Your native people, strong shaman, Are no longer what they used to be. Black people are deceiving your men, They brought bad diseases to them, They brought evil things to your land, They kill people’s souls and hearts, They opened your land to Nga For him to take souls of men”.
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! These are the words said by Great Noom: “Your people must try to learn Where lies evil and good. White as snow is black people’s look Their words are murmuring like a brook, Their eyes are shining as stars, Their deeds look like juicy ripe fruit. Only don’t believe them, they are false, Their souls and hearts are black. They have spoiled a lot of your men, Many of them grew false and black. May your people overcome The blackness in their hearts. Then light and joy will return to your land, And the stone will be white again”.
Dwellers of this land, listen! You who are here, listen! We shall hold our own fate. Let us block every way from Nga. Don’t keep evil in your heart. May the stone brought by black men Turn into their own grave, Shutting every passage to Nga.
[Ed. Note] We do not know the historical events that took place that led to the scapegoating of black men for their problems, but it has here worked its way into their religion. We also find it interesting that they sing, "Don't keep evil in your heart", and yet they don't seem to see the connection with their scapegoating of all black people. From this example, we can see how religions can turn people away from the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking teaching of our Lord for the whole of creation (humans, other animals, and the environment in which we all live).
Yuri Klitsenko is a Russian living in Moscow. He works for the Russian Orthodox Church.