Mother Earth Father Sky

Mother Earth Father Sky

by Sue Harrison
4.4 17

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Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison

In a time before history, in a harsh and beautiful land near the top of the world, womanhood comes cruelly and suddenly to beautiful, young Chagak. Surviving the brutal massacre of her tribe, she sets out across the icy waters off Ameria's northwest coast on an astonishing odyssey that will reveal to Chagak powerful secrets of the earth and sky... and the mysteries of love and loss.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380715923
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/28/1991
Pages: 416
Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)

About the Author

Sue Harrison is the author of five previous novels: Mother Earth Father Sky, My Sitter the Moon, Brother Wind, Song of the River, and Cry of the Wind. Prior to the publication of her first novel, she taught creative writing at Lake Superior State University. She and her husband, Neil, live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. They have two children.

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Chapter One

Six days. The hunters had been gone six days, and during that time there had been a storm -- rain and a roaring that seemed to come from within the mountains, and waves that swept the beaches bare.

Six days. Too long, Chagak thought. Too long, yet she sat on the low mound of her father's earthen ulaq and waited, watching the sea. She smoothed her hands over the dark feathers of her suk. Her mother had given her the garment that morning to replace the hooded child's parka Chagak had outgrown. The gift was a sign that Chagak was now woman, but she knew it was more than that. It was also her mother's way of speaking to the spirits, a woman's small voice that said, "You see, my daughter wears a new suk. It is time to rejoice. Surely you will not send sorrow to this village."

So Chagak spread her arms in the wind, a silent request for the spirits to see her, to notice the beautiful suk, for her mother had made it carefully, using more than twenty birdskins, and the cormorant feathers still held the rich smell of the oil used to soften the skins.

"See me," Chagak wanted to shout to the spirits, to the great mountain Aka that watched over their village. "This girl is woman now. Surely, in her rejoicing you will bring our hunters back from the sea. Surely you will not let us become a village of women and children." But only men were allowed to call to the spirits. So Chagak stretched out her arms but held back the words that pressed full and tight between her tongue and the roof of her mouth.

A wind blew in from the sea, bringing the smell of fish and a coldness that made Chagak tuck her long hair into the suk's high collarrim. The suk hung past Chagak's knees, so that when she squatted down it was long enough to touch the ground and keep her bare feet warm. She drew her hands up inside the sleeves and squinted at the gray-white line between sky and sea where the black dots of the hunters' ikyan would first come into sight

It was summer, but even in summer the skies were usually gray, the air thick and wet with moisture that rose from the sea. The wind that kept winters warm -- with rain coming as often as snow -- also kept the summers cold. And the wind blew forever; never, never stopped.

Chagak opened her mouth and let the wind fill her cheeks. Did she imagine it or was there the taste of sea lion in that mouthful of wind? She closed her eyes and swallowed. Yes, some taste of sea lion, Chagak thought. And why would sea lions be here, this close to the First Men's island? Again she filled her mouth with the wind, again she tasted sea lion. Yes, yes. And if she tasted sea lion, perhaps the hunters were coming, towing sea lions they had taken during their hunt. But Chagak did not call her mother. Why raise hopes when perhaps it was only a trick of some spirit, making Chagak taste what was not there?

Chagak watched the horizon, holding her eyes open wide, until the wind filled them with tears. She wiped the wetness from her cheeks with her sleeve, and as the softness of the cormorant feathers crossed her face, she saw the first ikyak, a thin black line on the white edge of the sea. Then another and another.

Chagak called down through, the square opening, both entrance and smoke hole, that was cut through the sod roof and driftwood rafters of her father's ulaq. "They come. They come."

As her mother emerged from the ulaq, other women climbed from the dark interiors of nearby ulas, the women blinking and shielding their eyes in the gray brightness of the day.

They waited, quietly, though Chagak heard her mother's soft mumbling as she counted the boats. Ten ikyan had gone out. Ten had returned.

One of the women started a high chant of praise, a song of thankfulness to the sea and honor for the hunters, and from cliffs and ulas young boys and old men hurried to the beach to help the hunters drag ikyan ashore.

The women followed, still singing. Chagak, the newest woman, stayed at the back of the group, behind the women but ahead of the girls.

Sea lions were lashed to the sterns of the first two ikyan, the animals nearly as long as the crafts themselves.

One of the hunters was Red Sun, Chagak's uncle, the other, Seal Stalker, one of the youngest hunters in Chagak's village, but already that summer Seal Stalker had brought in six hair seals and now a sea lion.

When his ikyak was in shallow water, Seal Stalker jumped from the craft and began to pull it ashore. Then he cut the line that held the sea lion.

Chagak tried to keep her eyes on other hunters, to make her song as much for her uncle as for Seal Stalker, but it seemed something was forcing her to watch Seal Stalker, and twice, as he helped drag the animal up the slope of the gravel beach, Seal Stalker's eyes met Chagak's, and each time, though Chagak continued her chant, a chill coursed up from her fingers as if she and not Seal Stalker had brought in the animal, as if she were the one being honored.

Seal Stalker's mother came to take the hunter's share, the sea lion's flippers and the thick layer of fat under the skin. But suddenly Seal Stalker shook his head and instead turned to Chagak's father, handed him a long, stone-bladed hunting knife and said, "I need a wife. Let this animal be first payment on your daughter's bride price."

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Mother Earth Father Sky 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story of life in Prehistoric Alaska is one of those historic fictions that makes you believe that it could be a true story. As the first in a series of three books it lays the groundwork for a facinating tale of survival in a harsh world by following the life of a young girl and her people as they overcome many harsh obstacles of life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is packed with emotion and adventure! I love it! I would recommend this to everyone! I'm only 13, but I could understand the book well! Chagak really had to grow up fast and she was a brave girl! It's hard to explain the story, so I suggest you go buy it and read it! I haven't read the other two, but I plan to! Sue Harrison is an excellent storyteller! E-mail me if you have any questions! Read this book!
ilvbks More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. It is highly recommended for any one who likes historical fiction. The research was well done. try it!
MISS_READ_IT More than 1 year ago
Short and Sweet this book is no nonsence, right to the point, not a boring page in the book . I Loved It!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love her writing. I couldn't put the book down. Great author, great characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison is a powerful book about a young woman who searches for a sense of belonging and ends up finding a whole new family, and, more importantly, she discovers more about her own character; through her journey, she lived through love, loss, and self-discovery. Chagak, of an Indian tribe, had just become a woman. While she was picking berries, her whole tribe was burned and killed; the only survivors were herself and her little brother Pup. After giving each one of the members of the tribe a proper ceremony of death, with her little brother, she decided to go to her grandfather¿s tribe to seek assistance. She ended up on an Island with a man named Shuganan. On this island, Pup died and Chagak grieved. Shuganan gave Chagak food, water, and shelter and they became friends. They shared their experiences and became very close. A man comes to the beach and claims that he is good, but in reality, he is a killer, which is explained in his name, Man-who-kills. He impregnates Chagak with force and is very brutal toward both her and to Shuganan. The two kill him and are free from his cruelty. She gives birth to the son and he is named Samiq. The story is then intelligently intertwined with the story of another tribe. These two tribes later meet and live amongst one another. The leader of that tribe is Kayugh and his son has not eaten healthy because his mother died and he couldn¿t be breastfed. Chagak agrees to feed him; she, in the end, saves his live. Chagak, traumatized over her experience with Man-who-kills, never wants another husband for fear of being treated so harshly. Kayugh wants her as his wife. You¿ll have to read the book to find out what happens next. Through Chagak¿s journey, she realizes that although she is a woman and is supposed to be inferior, she is still strong. She had the strength to bury her whole family, being raped and giving birth to the child as a result of that, and so much more. I really recommend this book because Sue Harrison really gives all her characters a unique personality. She brings her characters, including the whole book to life; it¿s like your watching a movie and not really reading. In addition to this, Harrison did a lot of research on the Native American culture, which brings out the richness and virtues of their lifestyle. The story shows how a woman can have strength within and use it to persevere and overcome any obstacles. Word Count: 435
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was entranced from beginning to end. I was searching for an author who wrote as well as Auel and Shuler and this is the one. This was the first book I read by Harrison and I can hardly wait to read the others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't wait to read the next books in this series. I appreciate how you aren't bombarded with a gob of characters to keep up with in the first few chapters. The names of things are foreign (to me) and I didn't struggle with words and names of things. Also, the author included a brief dictionary in the back of the book. The main character is Chakag. She watched her village and family murdered and plundered. One thing I loved about her is her strength and ultimate need to survive after everyone and thing she knows is destroyed. Life is hard and unforgiving in prehistoric Alaska. I guess my problems aren't so bad. Lol I will definately read this author again and look forward to her other series.
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It's hard to imagine how things were along time age. Author does a good job and keeps you interested. I enjoyed this book, but than I like to think about past ages.
Book_Crazy02 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book because I loved the setting and the characters. The author did an amazing job making the setting believable and making it realistic. For someone who never saw 7056 BC, she did an amazing job immersing the reader with details. I thought the plot line was interesting and unique. A lot of books with a similar setting do a bad job of connecting the reader to their characters. But this author did a pretty good job of connecting me not only to the characters, but also to the emotions that were invested in the book. The book flowed great and was an overall good read. Chagak was an interesting character in herself because of her strength in a  world that doesn’t always expect or accept it. At first she fell in line with everyone else and accepted her position in life. Then she got brave and started to survive on her own. Her character was very dynamic and I liked how she changed throughout the book. She became more self dependent and strong as she learned to fend for herself and accept her losses. This book requires a courageous main character and Chagak fits the bill in every way. Not only is Chagak a great character but all the other ones are too. I liked how they supported Chagak and added to her story. The other characters helped build her into a stronger woman and added special details to her character. Sometimes I wasn’t as connected to the characters as I would have liked and I felt that the plot was a little shaky. But overall I really enjoyed reading this book and I will enjoy more books by this author and publisher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago