|BULLETIN # 34|
XV group of interns
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|School Affairs |
Barets Secretariat Unites Women
Hopes for a Deserving Life
Planes are Good and Choppers Too...
The Song of My Brother
Evenkia, My Native Land
Changes in the Presidential Human Rights Commission of The Russian Federation
Program in Action
Will There Be Warmth and Light in the Periphery of Russia?
Keperveyem is a small Chukchi village in Chukotka’s Bilibino District. Of the 300 people living there, 70 are indigenous.
In the 1960s, our Vperyod State Farm was a millionaire. In the 1990s, it fell apart. Individual farmers emerged.
Today, only one farm remains with only about 300 reindeer. Visitors from [Chukchi Autonomous District capital] Anadyr have recently been talking to the elders and suggesting to revive the state farm. But how can that be done? It is very, very difficult. A lot of problems need to be solved. I believe we need to establish collective farms, not state farms.
Keperveyem is a Chukchi ethnic village, but it is also home to Evens, Koryaks, and one Oroch, as well as Russians, Ukrainians, and others. The grade school at the village for some reason stopped to be considered ethnic last year. The Chukchi language is taught there, but not Even as there are no teachers. Local teachers have created a small museum at school. We sometimes hold classes of Chukotka history there. Both local kids and migrants are interested in Chukotka history. For the classes, we invite elders, who tell the kids a lot of interesting things.
The Vozrozhdeniye (Revival) Methodological Association has been created at school with the participation of both teachers and technical personnel as well as the villagers. Every year, by December 10, we hold a 10-day festival of the Chukchi language. It includes ethnic athletic competitions, performances by the Nutengrep children’s ensemble, exhibition/sale of Chukotka memorabilia and fur clothes, open classes of the Chukchi language, drawing contests, and poetry recitals. Posters on northern topics are issued. Last year’s topic was “Pioneers,” and this year’s one was “Chukotka Ethnic Clothing.” This is the time for meetings with famous reindeer herders, skillful craftsmen, and village elders. This has become a tradition at our school. A grand concert and a tea party crown the event.
Today, problems in rural areas abound. Unemployment is one of them. People cannot find a job. Jobs are nonexistent. One consequence is drinking. If parents drink, kids suffer. Some kids cannot receive an education and join the unemployed.
The school works a lot with the so-called difficult kids. Supervising teachers, deputy headmaster for education, and guardian inspector often visit children in problem families and talk to their parents. They make sure the students do not skip classes. However, sometimes some kids do not wish to study and skip classes. Yet, the school is required to provide junior-high-school level of education to all, and therefore they begin pulling the student by the ears. I have heard talk that in some Chukotka districts that is no longer a problem. How, you will ask? There, kids may go to work at reindeer farms. Yet, this opportunity is unavailable to us.
Barents Secretariat Unites Women
Collaboration at the Barents Secretariat began in 1993.
Norway stood behind the initiative. One of the goals for collaboration was the desire to contribute to improving the situation of indigenous peoples in the region as well as establish ties between the NGOs defending their interests.
The indigenous peoples of the region are the Nenets, the Saami and the Veps in Karelia. They number about 100,000, including about 80,000 Saami, who live in four countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia), 7,000 Nenets, and 6,000 Veps.
For the purpose of practicing contacts and exchanging experience and information on the situation of indigenous peoples in the region, the Barents Secretariat holds meetings and conferences. Thus, on the initiative of an organization in Murmansk, the Barents Region Woman’s Life Conference has been held.
The presentations touched various topics. The topic “Women and Business” captured much attention and dealt with microlending to projects suggested and implemented by women.
People at the conference talked about how such project are born, for example, in Norway and how they are being implemented today. It was noted that the Norwegian side could also help its Russian friends in setting up small banks for women wishing to start a business.
Fairly interesting were the presentations in the working groups “The woman in politics, union movement, and NGOs” and “The Arctic Storehouse,” which discussed the problems of nature use and environment. Special interest was revealed toward the exploitation of resources on lands occupied by native peoples. It is enough to exhaust their lands, and the peoples will face the danger of extinction. Things are not simple with that in the Barents region. Ms. Aile Jovo, member of the Norway Saami Parliament, said that the Saami together with the Norwegian Government had a long way to go together to set up the procedure of nature use suitable to both parties.
The situation with the use of natural resources on territories of the indigenous peoples of the RF is even more complicated. Ms. Zinaida Ivanovna Strogalshchikova, chairperson of the Veps Culture Society, made a report on this topic under the Arctic Storehouse rubric. An analysis of the Sustainable Self-government Development Economic Stabilization District Program for the Veps Ethnic Volost [district including several villages] was also presented. The program aims at essentially complete and quick extraction of mineral resources although the reserves of, for example, diabase at the planned production rates will last only 7.5 years and sandstone quartzite, 56 years. Additional labor force of 440 persons will be brought into the volost from the outside. The program designers never asked themselves the question of what would happen to the Veps. While today they constitute 40 percent of the volost’s population, after the program’s introduction their share will drop to less than a third.
(To be continued in the next issue)
Hopes for a Deserving Life
The Chukchi District of the Chukchi Autonomous Region Administration’ decree issued on April 14, 2000, gave the disintegrated Lorinskoye Collective Agricultural Enterprise (CAE) as municipal property to the Chukchi District Administration.
Agriculture in the Chukchi Autonomous District started developing in the first half of the 20th century, and the same is true about the village of Lorino, Chukchi District. Due to various circumstances, in the years that agriculture existed there, the enterprise repeatedly changed names.
In 1925, the Partnership of Hunter Artels [brigades] was established, and in 1930, the artel started a collective economy. In 1935, the Red Hunter Sea Hunt Collective Farm was formed.
In 1940, the decision was made to organize the Lenin Reindeer Herder Artel. That was the first viable collective farm, which was growing and developing and was the wealthiest in the area thanks to such brilliant chairmen as Tymlet, Khymoy, Yenok, Egorov, and Gutnikov. In May of 1975, the Lenin Collective Farm was reorganized into a state farm. Under the new name, the farm continued being top-notch, but only temporarily. As of the early 1990s, the state farm slowly started to fall apart. In 1995, its name was changed to the Lorinskoye CAE, but the new name gave nothing to the rise of the rural economy.
The general meeting on May 4, 2000, voted unanimously for making it municipal property in order to overcome the downswing. The new entity has registered with state authorities as the Keper Municipal Unitary Enterprise of Agricultural Commodity Producers. The main types of operation were inherited from the Lorinskoye CAE. Ms. Lyubov Nikolayevna Trifonova has been approved as general director. The Articles of Association, adopted by the company for the first time, require responsibility from the workers as well as provides rights. Ms. Trifonova said in a conversation, “The articles of association are a goal, and a goal is the basis of life. You are the master of your household, then be the master of your land.”
In Chukchi, “keper” means wolverine, and by nature, it is a very strong animal that protects and feeds itself. Indigenous people must understand that at this time no one will be doing anything in their stead; everything depends on one’s own self. With the new director and the new name, Keper workers have hopes for a deserving life.
Reindeer herding in the Republic of Tyva is practiced only in Toja and Kyzyl Kozhuuns/Districts. Toja Kozhuun is situated in the northeast of the republic. Its area is 44,800 square kilometers [17,300 square miles].
Its geomorphology includes southwestern slopes of the Eastern Sayan Mountains, the Toja Depression, East Tuvinian Plateau with the Akademika Obrucheva Ridge, and the Sengilen Plateau. The Toja Depression is a valley between the Eastern Sayan Mountains and the Akademika Obrucheva Ridge 150 kilometers [93 miles] long, through which run the Khamsara and the Azas, right tributaries of the Bolshoy Yenisey River. The terrain includes low mountains, with medium-height mountains in some places and plains and hills in the west. Lakes abound: Azas, Many-Khol, Noyan-Khol, etc. The plants are mainly those of taiga forests: larch, Korean pine, fir, pine, and birch and in the west, leafy forests and grass and sedge meadows. The population of Toja Kozhuun amounts to more than 6,000 persons, including about 3,000 Toja Tuvinians.
Since olden times, the Tojas have practiced hunting, reindeer herding, and fishing. Those traditional occupations have developed further.
Deer herding plays a significant role in the life of the local people. The area of deer pastures is 2.7 million hectares [6.7 million acres] with the number of deer amounting to 30,000-40,000. The three clans of Toja people are doing most of the reindeer herding: the Odugen Clan, the Ulug-Dag Clan, and the Khamsara Clan, with more than 80 percent held by the Odugen Clan. The existing deer herding technology in the Republic of Tyva does not permit to fully solve the problems relating to production increase. The herders have been affected by crisis over the past few years. The hardest hit were those located far from central districts and lacking the possibility to process their produce. Reindeer herding is an important part of the Tojas’ life. However, a rapid reduction of the herds has begun in recent years.
Toja is a place where gold is mined. There have been no conflicts between the deer herders and the gold mining companies in the kozhuun so far, but there is no direct, long-term collaboration either.
The herders live in very difficult conditions. They do not have enough food, warm clothes, tents, etc. A tent for the reindeer herder is the most important thing. Without it, it is very difficult and practically impossible to live in the taiga.
My Odugen Clan has no fishing equipment. No loans are given to us to revive the clan. We could repay privileged loans as we feel strong enough for that. We would repay, for example, in pine nuts, fish, furs, berries, etc. The debts accumulated by the Toora-Khem State Farm, liquidated in 1995, for some reason have become debts of the clans. For that reason we cannot work normally and develop our economy. We cannot increase the herd population and the social status of the reindeer herders – the state farm’s debts keep pulling us back. How can those debts be written off? The kozhuun administration allocates two sacks of flour per herder for 2-3 months, and that amount only lasts one month.
For indigenous communities to get a start in life, a special status is needed and old state farm debts need to be written off. Then we will be able to earn money on our own, provide for our food, equipment, and hunting and fishing gear.
The Far East is home to 15 out of the 26 indigenous peoples of the North. Among them, the Udege represent certain interest. Ancient hunters and fishermen, they live today in Khabarovsk and the Maritime Territories.
The Udege live in taiga areas. In mountainous taiga areas, there are numerous small and big rivers on the banks of which the Udege live. The rivers play a very significant role in the life of the people and are important for the development of hunting and fishing. Taiga forests are rich in animals and birds. The abundance of ungulate and fur animals has significantly influenced the development of hunting among the Udege. The Udege have also practiced gathering (roots, berries, and herbs). Therefore, the Udege economy was a complex one.
On a bank of the Khor River in Lazo District, Khabarovsk Territory, Udege live in the village of Gvasyugi. Of the village’s 275 people, 217 are indigenous. There is a school in the village. All the teachers have higher education. The school lacks a foreign language teacher. The native language is taught in primary school. An ABC of the Udege language has been published recently, and the kids use it for classes. Ms. Valentina Tunsyanovna Kyalundzyuga has written the ABC. The number of hours dedicated to the native language has been reducing recently. The school building is in a shabby state and in need of overhaul. The heating system is frozen, and the kids study in one half of the building, which is a little warmer. The kindergarten building also needs overhaul.
To undergo a medical examination, one needs to hitchhike to the district capital. However, as there are no vehicles in the village, it is a challenge getting to the district outpatient clinic. The level of mortality due to cancer has increased lately. Most kids have bad teeth and poor eyesight. The village medical unit does not always have medicines, especially at times of flu epidemics.
There are 36 unemployed in the village, most of them women, but they are not registered with the district administration’s unemployment office, because there is no transportation.
Unemployment can be overcome by creating new businesses. One such organization, we believe, is a cultural-ethnological center oriented toward foreign tourism. The center should include a traditional camp and a hotel complex for tourists.
The Su Gakpay ensemble works at the village House of Culture. The repertoire features ethnic dances, songs and musical instruments (kunkay, keunki, and dzyulanki). In August of 2000, the group was invited to the Republic of Sakha/Yakutia to a conference on playing the kunkay, or the khomus (a type of vargan).
The village House of Culture and library are located in a small building that is in a very shabby shape. The district Culture Department does not buy anything for the group for the lack of money, and the group needs ethnic robes and other items. Therefore, it is necessary to open an ethnic culture center.
Ms Kyalundzyuga, the group’s director, is working for free. She is a unique person. She studies Udege folklore. Her works include, apart from the Udege ABC, mentioned above, the volume called Folklore of the Peoples of Siberia and the Far East – Udege folklore, and the collection of folktales Two Suns. The folktales have been published in the United States in English and Udege. A Khabarovsk publishing house is currently preparing for publication her storybook. Three volumes of her Udege dictionary have been published in the Baltics. For 35 years she has worked as chairperson of the village Soviet. She has left the post due to an illness. Apart from her job, she has been involved in reviving Udege culture.
At present she heads the Ude Ethnic Community, established in February of 2000. The Ude founders are mainly hunters who have abandoned the Jango Ethnic Community. The Ude Ethnic Community practices hunting, fishing, gathering, and other types of activities. However, no hunting grounds are reserved for the community. The reason is this. Previously, the village had the Jango NPO, Ltd., with hunting grounds, but thanks to outside managers the community went bankrupt. Thus, the hunting grounds went to the territorial Administration’s reserve and will be bidden in a closed competition. The Jango Community’s hunting grounds will go to who will pay its debts, according to the Administration’s decision. All the hunters have written a group letter to the territorial Administration asking to give the hunting grounds to the Ude Community, because all the hunters have joined it. The area in question is approximately 840,000 hectares [2,076,000 acres]. The Administration of the Territory has decided to hold a closed bidding for the hunting grounds among those who have submitted applications.
In the village, there is another Communal Enterprise – Buli – dealing with timber cutting. Only a few representatives of indigenous peoples work in timber cutting as they lack specialized professional training to be tractor drivers or timber cutters.
Buli has assumed the responsibility for Gvasyugi’s socioeconomic development, as they have been given the opportunity to win a long-term timber cutting competition. Under its contract, the enterprise must provide the village with firewood and diesel fuel. For the past three years the village has been lacking regular electricity supply: in summer there is no electricity at all, and in winter the electricity is on for only four hours at night as there is no diesel fuel.
Many buildings in the village are in an appalling condition and need overhaul. New families are formed that they have no place to live, and they are cramped in the same house with their parents. No new houses have been built lately, and there are no funds to build a house on one’s own.
Still, in spite of all the difficulties, people have hopes for a better life.
Planes are Good and Choppers Too...
I have the impression that Krasnoyarsk Airlines has canceled all its flights in Baykit District of the Evenk Autonomous District and its population will be cut off from the rest of the world. The best way to travel to the regional capital [Krasnoyarsk] seems to be that advertised in the famous song that keeps repeating that …the reindeer are better. Many of the migrants, for whom Evenkia has become their second home, cannot visit the “mainland” for years. Air tickets for many are unaffordable. And there is no alternative.
The same situation is in the district. Residents of the district’s small villages go to the district center by helicopter for various reasons (a physical, paperwork, for health reasons, etc.). Then, they cannot go back for a long time because of either bad weather or the refusal of pilots to fly with only two or three passengers. The only hope in such cases is friends or acquaintances or the hospital to stay at night while waiting for the weather to improve. The Social Protection Department, headed by Ms. V. G. Yepifantseva, provides much help in such cases. Is there a way out of this situation?
There have been many requests and recommendations that a river shipping company be established in the District. Almost all the villages are located by the rivers: the Nizhnyaya Tunguska and the Podkamennaya Tunguska, which flow into the Yenisey River. In summer that will enable people to travel to the “mainland.”
The Song of My Brother
G.K. Werner’s book The Song of My Brother has been published recently. Apart from its main purpose, the book gives high-school students much information about the history, ethnography, and folklore of the Keto people and material for moral, patriotic, and environmental education to the teacher.
The epic poem in essence describes the life of Siberian indigenous peoples by showing that of the Keto nation in an epic form. It is a view by the Keto elderly generation of the 1960-1980s on events that had a direct bearing on the people. The events are shown as seen by a simple forest inhabitant: a hunter, a fisherman, and a gatherer. Precisely that vision of events and their evaluation have formed the basis of the Keto songs, folktales, traditions, and stories that have reflected them. The poem is increasingly tragic, and it culminates in the bard’s outcry of despair over the fate of the Keto, who are being on the verge of extinction as a separate people.
Still, in closing, there sounds hope, weak as it is, hope that the young generation is not indifferent to the fate of their people and that this generation may oppose the sad, hopeless imminence to which the people have been condemned.
In addition to purely lyrical motifs, the poem touches on such topics as the Keto way of life in the old times; Ket myths, folktales, and traditions; natural disasters and calamities; the role of shamans in Keto society; popular cults and rites; popular beliefs; protection of nature; alcoholism; Christianization; morals and the loss of language; czarist exiles; Soviet migrants; World War II as seen by its Keto participants; attitude toward animals; reindeer herding; the problem of different religions; mention of historic events; place names of Keto origin in Siberia; family and school, etc.
The author used the topic of a brother of a tragic fate, often found in the Keto folklore, as the main plot line tying in a single whole various motifs and situations talked about in Keto villages on the Yenisey and its tributaries. The book has several principal motifs: man and the universe; responsibility for the past, present, and future of human civilisation; painful contradictions of historic development of northern peoples; and the motherland and the native tongue.
The work is written in the Southern dialect of the Keto language with the use of the new Keto alphabet (G.K. Werner. New Keto Alphabet. Krasnoyarsk, 1989). The book includes an in verse translation of the song into Russian.
Beginning from September 1, 1988, the Keto language has been taught to the Keto. That is extremely important, for the Keto language has over the past few years started disappearing rapidly as has the ethnic culture.
I am talking about this, among other things, as a co-author of a Keto ABC book. I know about the interest with which kids, as well as their parents, have set to learning their native language. Today, the fate of the Keto is alarming. Traditional occupations are gone; ethnic consciousness has been destroyed; the people are alienated from all things original, ethnic: from the native tongue and the native culture.
The publication of G.K. Werner’s book is the arrival of new impulses for spiritual and sociocultural development of the Keto people. The originality of the book consists in that it revives the language, and its practical outcome is that it has been included in the literature set for the extracurricular course Modern Literature of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East.
The book is meant for teachers, educators, and high-school students in Keto schools and is addressed to specialist in biodiversity and environment protection, who are not indifferent to the fate of nature in Russia.
The number of copies printed is small, and a mass edition for the ethnic schools in Russia is needed. Still, the largest Russian libraries do have copies of it.
Galina Kh. Nikolayeva
The Telengit belong to the Southern group of the Altaics, and live mostly in Ulagan and Kosh-Agach Districts of the Republic of Altai, in the south-western Siberia. Historically, their nomadic way of life predetermined their geographical location. The Telengit populate the most highland portions of Altai with a strongly continental climate with long, cold winters when daily highs and lows differ by as much as 20 degrees. People live at the altitude of about 2,000 meters [6,600 ft].
District centers of Ulagan and Kosh-Agach are separated from the republic’s capital by 500 kilometres [310 miles] and three mountain passes and 600 kilometres [370 miles] and four mountain passes, respectively. A road connects the two districts. Inside the districts, distances of up to 150-200 kilometres [90-125 miles] are covered mainly on horseback or camelback.
Given its geographical location and difficult socioeconomic situation, Ulagan District, by its living standards, is much below the republic’s average level. The district lacks realistic economic levers to address the existing problems, due to the current economic structure, where distant-pasture cattle tending has traditionally held leading positions. The economic reforms of the past few years have brought the district’s livestock raising to decay.
The people work in extreme natural and climatic conditions. The logistical base of healthcare institutions is unsatisfactory. The birth rate is dropping rapidly, and the level of infant mortality is inadmissible: 74.6 in Ulagan District. The morbidity level of pregnant and lying-in women is high. The diagnostic capacities of prevention and treatment institutions are extremely limited.
Ulagan District is situated in a zone of ore belts (mercury, molybdenum and tungsten, and iron ore). Rocket ranges of the Russian Defence Ministry and the Russian Space Agency are located in the district. The space vehicles launched from the Baykonur Spaceport litter the district’s territory with used fuel tanks, stages, and rocket fuel (heptyl), which causes vigorous protests of the district’s public.
To stabilise the district’s economy and even up its living standards with those of the republic, state support is needed which would contribute to efficient use of the region’s internal resources: its forests, mineral deposits, and agricultural produce.
Evenkia, My Native Land
The village of Baykit is a district capital, and it is there that the district and the village administrations have their offices. It has the district communications center, a high school, a music school, an athletic school for kids, four kindergartens, a boarding school, and a retirement home. Also, the village has a public utility, a forestry, a forest range, a power station, an airport, two outpatient clinics, and five hospital wards. There is a social amenities center, a district consumer union, a savings bank, a branch of the Yenisey Bank, a district police station, the District Education Department, a pharmacy, a library, the House of Culture, a civilian registry office, a local history museum, an oil tank farm, and a fire unit.
Russians dominate in the population of the district capital. The indigenous people mostly live at trading stations. The population of Baykit District as of January 1, 2000, amounted to 5,960 persons, including 1,458 indigenous.
No other indigenous nation is spread through such vast territory as the Evenk. Our population in Russia is almost 30,000 (1989 Census). Today, the Evenk Autonomous District is home to an insignificant portion of the Evenk: only about 4,000 people. The rest is scattered over the vast expanses from the Sea of Okhotsk to the east side of the Middle Ob River Valley. Evenk villages are found in Transbaikal, Yakutia, and even Mongolia and China, where they number about 10,000.
Such unprecedentedly vast geographic distribution of a numerically small people, first of all, speaks about its mobility, lightness on its feet, and easy adaptability to natural and social conditions. Indeed, the Evenk, previously known as the Tunguses, recently enough have been nomadic. Their ancient homeland is Transbaikal and the Amur River Valley. Seventh century Chinese chronicles speak about the Uvans (as the Chinese used to call this nation belonging to the Tungusic group) practicing stock raising. Pressed by their stronger and more numerous neighbors, the Evenk were gradually abandoning the grasslands and going to rough grounds of East Siberia highland taiga, to the North, and, following the Amur, to the east, into the Maritime Territory.
In Siberia, the Evenk switched from horses to reindeer, thus retaining their accustomed way of moving around on pack animals. Due to this, another self-name appears: the Orochon, “reindeer people” (from the Evenk oron, reindeer). The Evenk become reindeer herders. At the same time, the abundance of wild animals in the taiga, the hunting of which provided the Orochon with enough food, furs, and skins to make clothes and footwear, makes them skilled hunters. That laid the grounds of traditional nature use, which included reindeer herding, hunting, and fishing. (Evenkia abounds in rivers and lakes full of fish of various kinds.)
Until the Russians appeared in the Evenk country in-between the two Tunguska Rivers – the Stony Tunguska and the Lower Tunguska – the taiga new arrivals had continued hunting only for meeting their own needs.
At the beginning of reforms, the Evenk Autonomous Region had a population of 24,000 (1989), with 15.3 percent being indigenous people. About 1,200 persons worked for rural businesses, including more than 700 directly involved in production (150 in reindeer herding, more than 200 in hunting, etc.).
If rural people, especially the indigenous, move to the Autonomous Region capital of the district centres, their life does not change for the better at all. In the new places, they face numerous problems: the lack of housing and, most importantly, a very slim chance to find a job since most of those moving from rural areas to industrial communities lack the required professional skills. Ninety percent of the unemployed indigenous have no industrial skills, and, if they are lucky, they find menial low-pay jobs.
All that leads to degradation of the indigenous and alcoholism and as a result is fraught with self-degeneration and a demographic catastrophe for the entire people. For example, while in 1995 in trouble-free Surinda there were five deaths and 20 births, two years later the indices were horrifying: 10 deaths and four births. All those facts show that today the Evenk are in a depression before the harsh market economy laws. Yet, does that mean that in today’s situation nothing can be done for the indigenous peoples of the North and they are doomed to extinction? No, no one will ever agree with that of course.
This is the International Decade of Indigenous Peoples, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly. It is, of course, somewhat paradoxical that the decade of care about aboriginal population has coincided with times when the indigenous peoples here have started suffering more than ever.
We attentively watch the news on television, skip the sports, and rush back to watch the weather forecast. The reindeer herder and the hunter cannot do that. He has to be able to make an exact forecast on his own and not to make a mistake, and to steer away the deer herd if an ice-up or a blizzard threaten. A sea hunter must do that to avoid a storm. For that, he has to know the local weather signs:
- If all is covered by frost and suddenly the forest turns black, the temperature will rise slightly;
- If the forest is voiceful but there is no wind, that also means higher temperature is to come;
- If you look around and see black prominent against white background, that means rough weather;
- If in winter there is an aura around the Sun, that means freezing temperatures;
- If there is a tiny rainbow flanking the Sun at a distance, that means freezing temperatures;
- If the setting sun is red, that means good weather;
- If the sunrise is red and so are the clouds, that forebodes wind;
- If snow falls prior to October 10, the winter will be with much snow;
- If there is no snow prior to October 10, the winter will be cold;
- If a dog rolls on the ground in summer, that foretells wind, and in winter, blizzard;
- If March 3 is a sunny day, the spring will be sunny;
- If icicles are long, the spring will quickly turn into summer;
- If icicles are short, the spring will be long and cool;
- If the spring is short, there will be a flood, and if it is long, there will be none;
- If snow buntings return early, there will be an early spring;
- If a rainbow appears, the rain will stop soon and mushrooms will grow;
- If birds fly low, that portends rain;
- If mosquitoes overswarm, that portends rain;
- If by the end of the summer the grass is short, there will be little snow in winter, and if the grass is long, there will be much snow; and
- If alders begin turning yellow from bottom and willows from top, there will be an early fall.
|Changes in the Presidential Human Rights Commission of the Russian Federation|
|The Presidential Human Rights Commission has been working under the President of Russia since 1993. Since 1996, Mr. V.A.Kartashkin has chaired it. All the members do work in the commission as an honorary duty, and they report only to the President. Earlier, Indigenous Information Center’s bulletins have repeatedly described the commission’s structure, functions, and work. |
A September 2000 presidential edict made changes in the commission’s structure. Now, in addition to its traditional members – notable figures, scientists, and journalists – deputy heads of leading ministries and departments, such as the Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Labor Ministry, the Health Ministry, etc., have been added.
I think the change should increase the efficiency of the commission’s operation. The commission issues reports about its work, publishes literature that can help those defending their civil rights, and has prepared textbooks for colleges and universities, including military schools.
|A new structure has appeared in the Ministry for the Affairs of the Federation and Ethnic and Migration Policy of the Russian Federation (Former Russian Nationalities Ministry): the Indigenous Peoples Affairs Division. This is actually the only specialized outfit for indigenous people’s affairs in federal executive agencies. Ms. Lidiya Chimitovna Nimayeva is the Division Head. She has much practical experience in this area.|
The federal targeted programs “Children of the North” and “Socioeconomic Development of Indigenous Peoples of the Russian North until 2010” have been handed over for supervision to the division. The latter of the two programs still has to be approved by the Government of Russia.
Hopefully, the change will increase the efficiency in the activities of the federal agencies in protecting the rights of Russia’s indigenous peoples.
|Program in Action|
The interns met with Mr. Andrey Georgiyevich Chilikin, manager of the “Children of the North Federal Targeted Program”, on October 3, 2000. The meeting gave them detailed information about this project, which concerns children living in the regions of the North and other places with the same status. The program includes these activities:
1. Mother and child health and safety.
2. Better schooling conditions.
3. Supporting the development of artistic creativity in children.
4. Supporting the development of children’s and adolescent sports.
5. Ensuring the commissioning of socially important health, education, culture, and sports facilities for children.
Stage Three of the Program ends this year, and in August of 2000, the Program was approved to continue until 2002. The Program’s budget for 2000 amounts to 60 million rubles. The same amount is allocated for 2001.
The Gender Research in Humanities: Modern Approach International Conference took place in the city of Plyos on September 15-16, 2000. The 15th group interns has been among those invited to attend the conference. Notably, this has been the first instance when the Center took part in an event devoted to gender problems. Roundtables dedicated to gender research in sociology, political science, and economics have been held as part of the conference. Business collaboration between members of the American Association of Lawyers and the interns began at the conference.
Only a week later, a second meeting between the interns and Ms. Lyudmila Nikolayevna Zavadskaya, women’s rights protection program director, took place. The meeting gave us more complete information about the association’s activities and the various gender programs. Ms. Zavadskaya explained to us the Association’s objectives and tasks.
The Association deals with labor, social, and family rights of women. In particular, the Association supports the creation of crisis centers for women who are victims of domestic violence. Regular meetings and seminars with people interested in solving those problems help implement the programs more productively, according to Ms. Zavadskaya.
IIC interns have attended one such seminar. The topic discussed was gender balance of power standards, which dealt with equal participation of both women and men in public and political life and with their equal representation in power structures. One report concerned West European experience in this field. The seminar participants took part in a discussion trying to answer the question of whether women’s organisations in this country have a future. Cited were both pluses and minuses restraining the activities of women’s organisations.
I would like to note the fabulously friendly atmosphere at the seminar, which helped those of us who were new at gender issues try and understand some of the gender problems. We hope to continue our meetings and business relations with associations and organizations representing women’s interests also in the future.
|Will There Be Warmth and Light in the Periphery of Russia?|
Will Chukotka District or the Chukchi Autonomous Region provide us with the necessary repair materials, spare parts, and motor transport, everything needed to prepare the housing and utilities facilities of our village of Lorino for a long, cold winter? But why remind the bureaucrats about it; they know it all as it is.
Although they surely know it, we will remind them any way.
To equip boiler houses, the following is needed: stop materials, electrodes, construction materials to repair boilers – cement, bricks, and chalk – pumps, and lighting equipment. The workers need working clothes and food.
To repair heat pipelines, stop valves, pipes of various diameters, mineral wool, and electrodes are needed.
The DK-300 diesel generator at the diesel power plant requires overhaul. Spare parts for the maintenance of diesel engines fail to arrive; the M-10B2 and M-8B2 diesel oils are chronically in short supply. Worn-out generators need to be replaced by new ones. The building of the diesel power station requires repairs.
The motor pool needs additional vehicles: two big Ural trucks to carry water and two bulldozers. Also, spare parts are needed for the overhaul of the operating Ural trucks: tires and tubes, springs, light units, belts, lubricants (gearbox oil). The tractor needs goosenecks, rollers, sprockets, etc.
There are no construction materials to repair residential houses: paint, chalk, cement, lumber, nails, etc. After the heating station breakdown of March 26, 2000, heaters in small numbers were supplied to residential apartments.
Housing and utilities workers keep asking another vital question, “When will we receive the paycheque arrears and will be receiving the money we are earning on a monthly basis?” Indeed, when? Housing and utilities workers have seen no paycheques since 1996. How can they provide food and clothing to their families?
The answer may be to the effect that all of Russia, not only we, faces that situation. We agree, but we live in a different region, different climate, created by Mother Nature, not us. Only when you fly over this land, you get the impression that there is plenty of it. In reality, it only goes as deep as 15-20 centimetres [6-8 inches], then you have gravel stone and sand up to one meter [3.3 feet], and then, ice. Fifteen centimetres of soil are not enough to grow potatoes, carrots, wheat, onions, cabbage, and other vegetables. Also, the ancestors of the indigenous people have never tilled the ground.
I would like to hear or read a response from our authorities to the questions asked by Lorino villagers in this letter.