Firelight on the River: Siberia's Ket People and Ancient North America

Dr. Edward Vajda, Professor, Department of Modern and Classical Languages

Fall 2019

Professor Edward Vajda provided audience members with a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at his original fieldwork with Ket elders during six different trips to Siberia over the past two decades. His presentation included stunning photos of traditional and modern Ket lifeways as a backdrop to historical, linguistic and anthropological discoveries. The Kets are proving to be the oldest inhabitants of northern Asia, and their language, with its unique word tones and complicated verb prefix system, appears related to languages spoken in North America by the Tlingit and Dene (Athabaskan) peoples.

Dr. Edward Vajda has been a professor in Western Washington University's Department of Modern and Classical Languages since 1987. He teaches courses in introductory linguistics, morphological theory, historical linguistics, Russian language, folklore and culture, and Eurasia's nomadic peoples. His research focuses on the languages of Northern Asia and includes original fieldwork with Ket, a severely endangered language spoken today only by a few dozen elders in the remote Yenisei River basin.

Date of Lecture