|BULLETIN # 35|
XV group of interns
TABLE OF CONTENTS
of the Veps Costume|
Tundra Woman, Women's Crisis Center
Barents Secretariat Unites Women (continued from Bulletin #34)
Your People, the Udege
CAF in Russia
On the Implementation of Federal Programs
The Color of the Veps Stone
The Main Stages in Veps Wedding
From the History of a Reindeer People
Reindeer Herders Supported
At the Association of Indigenous Peoples
Meeting at the Finnish Embassy
At the Dannish Embassy
|Revival of the Veps Costume||
was the Veps ethnic costume like? The
Veps Cultural Society has long been interested to know. Sadly, the costumes used at present by folk groups are not
authentic. Therefore, the
Society has asked experts from the Russian State Ethnography Museum, St. Petersburg, for help in restoring the costume.
The largest and oldest – 17th-19th centuries – collections of
Veps ethnic attire are kept there.
September of last year, the Society held a seminar in Petrozavodsk, where
Ms. L. Korolkova, a research fellow of the Ethnography Museum, provided a
detailed report to Society members, labor instructors from Veps Volost
[district including several villages] and Petrozavodsk schools, and
leaders of folk groups on the history of Veps ethnic clothes, the
techniques of their manufacture, peculiarities typical for various
historic periods, and ways of wearing them.
She handed over to the Society drawings and sewing patterns for the
most widespread types of the Veps ethnic costume.
Some items have already been produced at the Rybreka Secondary
School and the Petrozavodsk Culture School.
due to the lack of funds, the work could not be spread to all the Veps
schools. Now, thanks to help
from the Barents Secretariat, it is possible to do that.
The Veps Cultural Society’s Veps Ethnic Costume Revival Project
has received 18,000 Norwegian kroner.
will the project be implemented?
Late August or early September, all those wishing to take part in the
project – invited in the first place are labor instructors from Veps
schools, leaders of Veps folk groups, and artisans interested in reviving
the Veps ethnic costume – will go on a trip to St. Petersburg to see
firsthand the Veps ethnic attire in museum collections.
The expenses on the trip are included in the project’s budget.
of the main tasks of the project is the publication of a methodological
guide on the Veps ethnic costume. A
contract will be signed with the future writer of the guide, and the work
will be paid for.
and folk groups as well as individual participants in the project will
receive materials needed to manufacture costumes.
In late 2000, winners in the competition for the best Veps ethnic
costume will receive money awards, and the Sheltozero Ethnography Museum
will purchase their products should the owners wish so.
First Congress of the Telengit resolved to create in the village of Kara
Kudyur the Spiritual Center of the Indigenous Peoples of Ulagan District
in the Republic of Altai.
village is located 15 kilometers [9 miles] from the district capital, at
the mouths of two mountain streams – the Bashkaus and the Kara Kudyur
– and at the foot of three big mountains – Cholmondu, Kochkolu, and
Uzun-korum – which makes the place exceptionally beautiful.
hospitable people live there, which in general is typical of all the
villages in Ulagan District. Kara
Kudyur has a secondary school with 120 students, but teachers of some
subjects are lacking. Professionals
are reluctant to go to the village, as paychecks are in arrears and
housing is an acute problem. The
simplest things are lacking for physical training classes: volleyballs,
soccer balls, and jump ropes. The
gym is very small and uncomfortable.
school and a collective farm are the only employers, and the number of the
unemployed grows by the year. The
clubhouse has been destroyed by a fire, and there is no money to build a
new one. Almost no cultural
events are held. The road
from the village to the district capital is in poor condition.
total number of livestock in the Kara Kudyur Collective Farm has dropped
several times over: a little over 500 horses remain out of the 2000, no
goats remain, and cows are about to disappear.
The collective farm livestock breeders do not remember when their
latest paycheck came.
population of forest animals has reduced drastically.
From times immemorial, hunting has been one of the main means of
survival for the native population. Fish
is disappearing from streams and lakes.
inhabitants live on livestock breeding and gardening on their plots.
The 1997-1998 drought made people significantly reduce the number
of animals they kept. The impossibility to sell meat, down, and wool has also
reduced the living standards of the population.
The village lacks telephone communication even with the district
capital. These problems are
typical also for other villages in Ulagan District, and the Spiritual
Center will help solve some of them.
|Tundra Woman, Women's Crisis Center||
studies show that official statistics fail to reflect the actual state of
affairs with crimes against women, because, for various reasons, the
victims, primarily victims of sexual harassment and of domestic violence,
do not always go to law-enforcement agencies to ask for the culprits to be
punished. How can these women
be helped? Women’s crisis
centers have been created abroad and in Russia over the past few years.
There, women are provided with psychological, legal, medical, and
simply human support.
too have such an organization. The
Tundrovichka (Tundra Woman) Women’s Crisis Center, the only one in the
Republic of Sakha/Yakutia, has been working in the village of Cherskiy,
Lower Kolyma Ulus [unit of Yakutia’s administrative division, district],
since June 10, 1999.
October of last year, Ms. Tatyana Martynova, executive director of the
INTER-MAAP international antialcoholism program and founder of our crisis
center, spoke at the republican conference of social protection workers.
By that time, Tundra Woman had accumulated certain experience and
had published posters, which ran out immediately under the onslaught of
conference participants. They
asked a lot of questions about the organization of a crisis center.
That means that similar services may open in other Yakutian uluses.
Woman now uses the services of 15 persons, including 3 persons in each of
the two shelter homes in the villages of Kolymskoye and Andryushkino.
There are plans to create such homes also in Petushki and Pokhodsk.
Although the population of these naslegs [administrative division
of Yakutia] is not numerous, there are potential clients.
All the workers in the Center are volunteers, working without pay
in their free time. Their
reasoning from the very beginning was this: “There are women and
children whose life is harder than ours.
Where will such women find help?”
its foundation, Tundra Woman has helped 20 persons. Four women and six children have been victims of domestic
violence. Four kids,
witnesses of such violence, remained orphans as a result of family dramas.
They have received legal and psychological assistance.
Four girls (from seven to 17 years of age) have been victims of
sexual violence, and the Center’s psychologists had to work with them.
sounds absurd, of course: minor girls fall victim to sexual violence, not
by strangers, but by fathers or stepfathers.
What a responsibility for the Center’s psychologists!
Their objective is not simply to talk, but to help, so that the
psyche of a little girl does not suffer and the trauma does not affect so
seriously her future life.
the sake of women’s security, a cooperation contract will be signed with
the Internal Affairs Department. According
to Yelena Antipina, Tundra Woman project coordinator, the chief of the
Ulus Internal Affairs Department showed understanding of their problems.
It is impossible to do without cooperating with the police: there
are situations when, after a family drama, it is dangerous for the woman
to remain at home; then, the police, depending on the circumstances, will
send the woman to the Center or will deal themselves with the rowdy
the women themselves provide grounds for conflict.
Most often that happens as a result of excessive drinking.
With such women, the Center signs contracts on abstention from
drinking liquors. Otherwise,
both their safety cannot be guaranteed and skilled assistance sometimes
cannot be provided.
Woman volunteers keep track of what is happening to their clients and
practice home calls to potentially endangered households.
One can assume that clients of the Center radically change their
life and abandon their husbands with whom it is unbearable to continue
living together. Yet, those
are only assumptions. In
reality, things are different: most often, life goes on as before, the
husband keeps drinking and battering the wife, and the wife keeps
suffering and enduring. “We
have no right to give advice to the woman.
She must make up her mind on her own,” Yelena Antipina says.
“Both those women who with our help have received apartments and
those to whom we have been providing psychological and legal assistance
continue living with their husbands.
Well, the woman makes her choice herself.
We can only tell her about aggression assessment and explain in
what period aggression may be at its highest and how it all may end.”
conditions of daily life of course play their role in such situations.
First, the woman is afraid to remain alone; second, by abandoning
her husband she remains without the breadwinner.
So she stays with her sadist and tyrant following the principle of
“no matter how bad he is, he is mine.”
Women suffer from violence but are forced to preserve the family
believing that their kids need that and also hoping that violence will
Tundra Woman Center has chosen two activity areas: (1) financial, moral,
and psychological support and (2) assistance to victims of domestic and
is domestic violence, you will ask? This
happens when a woman suffers humiliation, actual physical injuries, or
threat thereof through her partner’s, husband’s, or boyfriend’s
fault. This type of violence
also includes cruel treatment of kids and violence (physical, sexual, or
psychological), mistreatment (which includes
ignoring) of the elderly by their children, adolescents or adults.
Sexual violence consists in insulting a woman, forcing her to have
sexual intercourse with the help of threats with violence, aggression
sparked by jealousy, etc.
15 volunteers in Tundra Woman have chosen work to their liking.
For example, a fundraising specialist works with funds coming from
charities (true, there no such organizations in Cherskiy yet).
A specialist in prevention work among adolescents has assumed the
functions of a children’s consultant.
The Center has psychologists and home monitors.
In sum, there is much room for fruitful work.
Woman volunteers do not stop at what they have achieved. They have plans to obtain a grant for the Center, acquire
computers, and train consultants. Their
project, in particular, states: “The Center’s principle is to develop
women’s initiatives in the solution of social problems of the North.
After becoming self-sustainable, the Center plans to open a fur and
leather sewing shop. For
that, we are requesting
financial support to acquire raw materials, sewing and furrier’s
machines, beads, and cloth.” They
have sent this project to Sakha-Eurasia, an organization providing grants
to nongovernmental charitable associations.
The Center has sent a similar letter to the Russian State Committee
for Northern Affairs.
part of the plans to develop women’s initiatives, Tundra Woman will be
working with women’s councils and the Center for Social Assistance to
Families and Children.
Tundra Woman Center is planning to join the Association of Women’s
Crisis Centers of Russia and the Association of Northern Centers, where
Centers from Canada, Alaska, and northern Russia will be represented.
Secretariat Unites Women
(continued from Bulletin #34)
note that most mining enterprises in Veps Volost, Republic of Karelia,
fail to take stock of the quantity of mined natural resources. The most the government can dream about is to receive at
least 12 kopecks on every ruble of profit going mainly outside of the
volost. Today, there are
businesses that pay as little as only two kopecks (!) on one ruble.
people in the volost have good grounds to believe that a significant
portion of the profits earned on the natural resources is spent on
something very different from the needs of the local inhabitants. Now, as never before, it is necessary to use effective
Russian legislation to discontinue such a “revival” of the economy of
the Veps Territory. But who
will be doing it if the government is the author of this program, approved
by the Volost Council?
conference included work in sections.
The work of the section with the topic of “Women as Bearers of
Traditional Culture” sparked the greatest interest.
It gave the participants an opportunity to take a closer look at
the language and culture of the Nenets and the Saami.
In addition to a beautiful arts and crafts exhibition, it was
interesting to learn that the Saami, who are not very numerous, are
preserving their culture and their traditional way of life.
It followed from the presentations, that the indigenous peoples had
many common problems, the main one being how to preserve their traditional
territories from the onslaught of industries.
was said also about the preservation and revival of the cultural heritage.
Thus, Ms. Nina Afanasyeva, chairperson of the Saami Society, told
about the 1989 decision to create an organization for people united by a
common aspiration to preserve the culture of the Saami of the Kola
Peninsula. Also in this
section, Ms. Zinaida Strogalshchikova talked about the main tasks of the
Action Program for the Barents Region’s Indigenous Peoples, adopted by
the Regional Council of the Barents Secretariat in December of 1999.
Ms. Svetlana Pasyukova, chief expert of the State Committee for
Ethnic Policy, made a presentation in this section about the 10 years of
activities of the Veps Culture Society.
believe that this conference was useful in that it enabled women to
believe that they can count on each other’s help; the Barents
Secretariat was able to unite them and bring them closer together.
Of much importance was the support to and attention to the problems
of the region’s indigenous peoples.
It is much easier to be solving them together, because one does not
feel so lonely and so exotic in the enormous surrounding world anymore.
|Your People, the Udege||
the traditional culture of the Udege indigenous people is a topical
question of much interest.
Udege traditional culture has been forming for many centuries in contact
with other peoples. It was
passed down from generation to generation, was preserved and enriched.
Even though as recently as at the beginning of the 20th
century, the Udege were divided into numerous territorial groups with
individual dialectal differences in their language, they have managed to
create common traditions in material and spiritual culture and contribute
to the enrichment of the cultures of other peoples in the Far East.
In this respect, I would like to tell you about Valentina
Tunyasovna Kyalundzyuga, an Udege author and a person dedicated to the
study of her people’s traditional culture.
Kyalundzyuga was born on January 9, 1936, in a camp on the Sukpay river to
the family of a hunter and fisherman.
Her mother died early. The
father brought up the three children. In spite of all the hardships, he
managed to put them on their feet. Valentina
entered a teachers’ training college but was forced to give up during
her first year due to an illness. She
is the mother of four. From
1960 to 1997, she worked as chairperson of a rural Soviet/Council and
then, of the Gvasyugi Administration.
She is a veteran of labor and an honorary citizen of the district
and has labor awards. She
received her Bronze Medal at the Exhibition of National Economic
Achievements in Moscow. In
addition to her job, she has been studying the traditional culture of her
people: myths, legends, and traditions.
Her first book is a tale for children, called Two Suns, with
illustrations by a well-known artist, Gennadiy Pavlishin.
In 1999, the Novosibirsk Division of the Academy of Science
published an Udege volume, which included her works as well.
Ms. Kyalundzyuga is also a coauthor, with Mikhail Simonov, a
research fellow in the Academy, of the three-volume Udege dictionary.
several years now, the Union of Writers has had a request to admit Ms.
Kyalundzyuga to the creative union with recommendations by Yuliya
Shestakova and other writers, but no response has been given yet.
I believe that people like Ms. Kyalundzyuga, enthusiasts of a
cause, should be valued. At
the turn of the 21st century, Ms. Kyalundzyuga is turning 65.
It would be so good if she met the new century having received the
merited title of writer of the Udege people.
|CAF in Russia||
Charity Aid Foundation held a conference of nonprofit organizations from
September 11 to September 14, 2000, at the Holiday Inn Moscow Vinogradovo
Hotel, the first of this kind in the history of Russia.
More than 250 delegates from various Russian regions took tart in
conference was a notable event of social life.
More than 300,000 nonprofit NGOs, which provide enormous financial
and psychological assistance to the segments of the population that need
support, are working in Russia today.
Such a practice contributes to the appearance of nonpublic
providers of social assistance to citizens and new forms of mutual
commitments and relations between the state and civil society.
CAF Russia mission opened in 1993, in Moscow.
Since then, it has established collaboration with hundreds of
charitable and nonprofit organizations and has distributed grants to the
total amount of more than $6 million.
The CAF Russia mission is striving to do all it can to attract
additional funds for social programs in Russia.
operates in Russia in the following areas:
Russia is prepared to share experience, information, and resources with
all who are interested in developing nonprofit sector philanthropy and
civil society in Russia. For
more information, please contact
4, 57 Sadovnicheskaya St., Moscow 113035
|On the Implementation of Federal Programs||
Federation Council of the Russian Federation held parliamentary hearings
“On the implementation of federal targeted programs in support of
Northern regions,” organized by the Federation Council Committee for the
Affairs of the North and Indigenous Peoples, on October 26, 2000.
Representatives of federal legislative and executive branches of
government, heads of administrations of several regions and cities of the
North, and NGOs took part in the session.
hearing the reports, the participants in the parliamentary hearings came
to the conclusion that the implementation of the programs under
consideration is progressing very slowly.
The deliverables, for the reason of unsatisfactory funding from the
federal budget, the volumes of which keep reducing by the year, fail to
meet the programs’ objectives.
the past three years, the Economic and Social Development of the
Indigenous Peoples of the North Program received only one-third of the
planned amount from the federal budget and 8 percent of the program’s
budget. The Children of the
North Program, in two years and nine months, received only 23.1 percent of
the funding provided for in the budget.
Economic and Social Development of the Indigenous Peoples of the North
Until the Year 2000 Federal Targeted Program has failed to meet its
objectives: to improve the entire complex of living conditions in the
North. Moreover, negative
tendencies in this sphere are continuing to increase.
The living standards of the peoples are dropping; unemployment and
poverty are increasing, and people’s health is deteriorating.
fact that the level of funding for these programs in draft 2001 budget is
set below the 2000 figures and much below the programs’ budgets cannot
help but cause concern. At
the same time, no public financial support to reindeer herding in the
North, one of the main components in the economies of many regions, is
Sambuu (Toja Tuvinian)
action program to support the Finn-related peoples of Russia and their
cultures has been implemented in Finland since 1994 under the
Finnish-Russian Treaty on Relations Framework and the Agreement on
Collaboration in the Sphere of Culture, Education, and Science, both
signed in 1992. On the
Finnish side, the M.A. Castrén Society is implementing the program.
(Matthias Alexander Castrén [1813-1852] was a well-known
[Finnish] philologist and ethnologist, who has come up with the theory of
kinship between the Finnish-Ugric, Samoyed, Turkic, Mongolian, and
program to support related peoples annually receives from the Ministry of
Education 2.5 million markkas.
consultative commission, chaired by the General Secretary of the Society
of Finnish Literature, determines the orientation and content of the
program. From the very
beginning, the program’s main objective was the development of ethnic
languages for purposes of education and information.
to the financial assistance allocated by the Society of Finnish Literature
to publishing houses and book authors, 20 publications were issued in
Karelia in 1994-2000.
increase the prestige of ethnic languages and their development, the M.A.
Castrén Society has instituted a literary award, gives grants to
translators of books, and provides support to the publication of fiction
books for children and adolescents as well as for adults – those books
which local publishing houses view as socially important.
Society assists in the development of the museum business, focusing on the
development of partnerships between museums, training of museum workers,
and publication of their research works.
is also developing in the library business.
The Society gave a new impulse to the development of relations
between libraries when it acquired sets of 65 titles and sent them to
eight republican and district libraries of the Finnish-Ugric regions in
Consultative Commission identifies as one of the program’s areas the use
of ethnic languages on the radio and on television, language learning with
the help of the radio and television, and support of print media.
The Society has provided assistance to the distribution of four
periodicals in the Republic of Karelia.
|The Color of the Veps Stone||
is a very frequent guest in the Lake Onega country of the Veps.
Sometimes, it is seen several times per day.
seven colors, in a way, symbolize the seven sides of life of the Veps: red
is the color of a local stone; orange, the color of life-giving and
purifying fire; yellow, the warm color of wood; green, the color of the
forest; light blue, that of waters; dark blue, that of marsh flowers;
purple, that of the clusters of willow herb, growing on mother earth.
recently as some 20 years ago, when the trail between the village of
Pedaselga and the Veps village of Sheltozero had no asphalt pavement, the
visitor taking a rain-soaked road to come here would look in amazement at
the abundant puddles, bright crimson in color.
The famous Shoksha porphyry tinged the water.
The only deposit of this unique stone has been under development on
the shore of Lake Onega since the 1500s.
those times, Moscow, Yaroslavl, and, later, St. Petersburg construction
projects had teams of Veps stonecutters working on them.
Crimson quartzite, worked by their hands, is still present in the
walls of the Engineer Castle and mosaic floors of the Kazan Cathedral in
the northern capital of Russia [St. Petersburg] and the Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier memorials in Moscow and Petrozavodsk.
1846, porphyry monoliths were sent to Paris, for Napoleon’s gravestone.
stone by hand, Veps craftsmen were providing peasants with mills, state
metallurgy factories, with refractory lining material, housewives, with
superb grindstones, and city construction projects, with high-strength
from the 1800s, local clay served for manual production of the red brick
with which the stone churches in Verkhruchey and in the Yashezero
Monastery and some buildings in Petrozavodsk have been built.
travelers can not only view the deposits of crimson quartzite in Shoksha,
the mines of black gabbroic diabase in Drugaya Reka, greenstone in
Ropruchey, and grindstone on the island of Brusno but also try – with
the help of quarry workers – and chip off pieces of the same rock (and
from the same place) from which the emperor’s gravestone and the ceiling
of the funeral hall in V.I. Lenin’s Mausoleum are made.
The Main Stages in Veps Wedding
the late 1800s and early 1900s, wedding was a solemn event in the life of
not only the young couple and their relatives but also in that of the
entire village – an event attracting many people, funny, and
young man or his parents tried to find the bride in their own village or a
neighboring one. A popular
saying asserted: “A good man marries in the neighborhood, and a bad one,
across the mountains.” It
was normal to marry early in Veps villages, at the age of 16-17 or even
earlier. The reason was the
peasants’ desire to improve their social and property status.
Thus, a girl from a numerous, poor family tried to marry into a
wealthier family. There were two forms of marriage: through matchmaking or
abduction. In ethnological
literature, the wedding rite is divided into three stages: the prewedding
one, the wedding proper, and the postwedding one.
was the tradition to match in the evening or even at night.
Such a tradition may have to do with the tendency toward secrecy,
coming from ancient times. At
matchmaking, exchange of security was practiced.
This tradition consolidated the relations of the two parties.
The Veps knew a rite that bound the relations of the two parties:
“eye crossing” (praying).
time for wedding was set at matchmaking.
Prior to the wedding proper, parties were organized for which young
people gathered. If the girl
was an orphan, then before the wedding she would go to the grave of her
parents and ask for their blessing. On
the wedding eve, the girls’ bath was held.
The bath is associated with the girl saying good-bye to freedom. The way to the bath and back was accompanied by wailing. The
bride and her friends walked under a white tablecloth.
The use of a tablecloth or a coverlet in the rite was an ancient
protection from spoil. A hen
party was held in the bride’s home. It included the hair-combing rite, in which the bride’s
relatives participated. Then,
the wedding proper took place. The
train (several sleighs, the number depending on the number of guests) with
jingling bells approached the bride’s home.
Then, the “bride price” was paid.
First, the bride had to be found among the togged up friends, and
then the bridegroom had to “buy out” the bride from her friends by
treating them to candy and cakes. Then
the goodman prepared horses to go to church.
The wedding train went to the church.
The groomsman went in front. He
played the most important role at the wedding, as it was he who was
responsible for how the wedding progressed and how traditions were
observed. The groomsman
protected the young couple from the spoil, to which the bride and
bridegroom were exposed in the very important period in their life.
marriage service took place in church.
Along with Christianity, old pagan beliefs continued coexisting in
people’s ideology. For
example, during the marriage service, in order to head the family, the
bride tried to stand on tiptoe and to be cautious and avoid stepping
outside of the rug on which she stood, so that the family would be
stronger. After the marriage
service, they went to the young man’s village, not directly though, but
via other villages. In front
of the train, a barrel with burning tar would go to the home of
destination. In front of the
home, the young couple would be met by gunshots in the air and the road
would be barred by little flags. The
custom persists to this day.
bridegroom would take the bride to the house in is arms.
On the porch, they would be met by the bridegroom’s parents
holding an icon. The young
couple would kiss the icon and would bow to the ground before the parents.
Their heads would be sprinkled with chicken down and barley as well
as feathers from a sieve for them to live in friendship, agreement, and
principal guest at the wedding was the sorcerer; the groomsman could play
the role of the sorcerer. He
was revered and feared; everyone tried to play ball with him and give him
presents; at the table he was given the seat of honor.
the morning, the bathhouse was prepared for the newlyweds.
The wedding partiers would put the mother-in-law on a sled and take
her to the bathhouse after the newlyweds.
On the second day of the wedding, the so-called “princely
table” was organized, after which the newlyweds would ride on horses
adorned with towels and streamers, with bells jingling and songs being
sung. That would be the end
of the main stages of the Veps wedding.
From the History of a Reindeer People
the Russians came to the present-day Evenk country between the Lower
Tunguska and the Stone Tunguska rivers, the taiga recent arrivals had been
hunting animals only to satisfy their own needs.
The Cossack pioneers who appeared there in the 1600s, were
surprised to discover that the Tunguses were lining their skis with sable
Evenk met the Russians on their land in a friendly manner and viewed with
understanding the fact that from then on they would be subjects of the
Russian State. The state
immediately imposed on its new subject what was known as yasak (a kind of
income tax), which had to be paid in furs: skins of squirrels, otters,
foxes, and sables of course. The
Evenk were quick to understand that furs were real forest money.
Trading with Russian merchants, who because of their specialization
had the name of “Tungus traders,” it was possible to exchange furs for
anything they liked: tea, sugar, tobacco, ammunition, light and
longwearing fabrics for clothing.
that time, the Evenk, being smart and bright people, had invented and had
been using a number of simple but fairly efficient hunting devices. They were weapons of bloodless hunting, one that did not
damage skins: sable traps and traps for other small fur animals, pits, and
nooses woven from sinews. They
have come down to our days. In
addition, the Evenk were skillful bowmen: the arrow could hit any animal
at a long distance from the hunter.
any Evenk with self-respect would without much effort provide himself with
his own means of production, even though primitive.
In addition to that, having a small herd of reindeer (some 20-30
heads; a larger herd would require more time to the detriment of hunting),
a man, if he was not lazy, could ensure relatively prosperous existence
for his family. When hunting
failed to provide enough to eat, the reindeer would prevent famine. The reindeer were a real emergency relief asset for taiga
people: they provided meat when needed, skins for clothes and chum [tepee]
covers, and strong sinews for sewing footwear and fitting up bows and
crossbows with strong strings. The
Evenk saying “the reindeer means life” was absolutely right.
merchants’ great demand for sables encouraged the Evenk to keep
developing increasingly intensive hunting of fur animals.
The Evenk had no use for money in the taiga, and for a long time
they knew only barter trade. The
cunning merchants often deceived the gullible Tunguses, practicing unequal
exchange. For a flint gun,
for example, one sometimes had to pay a pile of skins as high as the
gin’s length. (The Evenk
quickly discovered the possibilities of firearms and would pay any price
for them.) It was even easier
to trick a Tungus after treating him to firewater.
Meanwhile, the czarist government, until the change of regime in
1917, was making sure that liquors did not make their way to the taiga. Thinking people realized what detrimental influence liquor
has on the indigenes. They
tried to safeguard the aboriginal peoples from sliding into the abyss of
alcoholism – at least, as regular suppliers of valuable furs to the
1917, the Evenk led a life primitive in a sense, but fairly prosperous and
calm. No one interfered in
their tribal relations, no one dictated their will, and no one taught them
how to manage their economy and how to hunt, fish, or gather.
The problem as such did not exist for them: the virgin, endless
taiga had enough room and wild game for all.
It is another thing that in their development the Tunguses, lost in
the taiga wilderness, were lagging far behind the Russians, moving farther
and farther east from the original Russian lands.
However, as the Evenk were not inert but very inquisitive and
receptive, they willingly borrowed from Russians what they saw as useful.
their turn, the outsiders profited culturally from the Evenks’
experience in hunting and orientation in the taiga.
That was how mutual penetration of the two cultures: a modern one
and an almost primitive, tribal one.
Their synthesis was producing splendid results and consolidated
good-neighborly relations of the indigenous and outside population (simple
hunters and craftsmen are meant here, not the Tungus merchants, although
they too have played a positive role in bringing civilization to the Evenk).
By the late 1800s, the Evenk were no longer the “wild Tunguses”
as imagined by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in his famous poem
Monument. This is what the
Yeniseyskiy Listok newspaper (1893, # 11) wrote about the Evenk who were
coming to Turukhansk to trade: “The
Tunguses are characterized by significantly developed good taste; they do
not drink tile tea, nor do they use undistilled vodka or alcohol; the most
prosperous ones eat only flour bread and like to have silver utensils,
especially spoons, or eat with spoons of fossil ivory…”
it would be totally wrong to believe that all the indigenes lived in
clover. Many, unfortunately,
would sometimes be occasionally exposed to drinking and sometimes would be
exposed to drinking all the time. According
to V.N. Uvachan (Evenk), Doctor in History, Tungus merchants practiced
making the natives drunk on poor-quality vodka (although it was against
the law) and would exchange their goods for furs unequally: they would
cheat the people under the influence, thus reaping colossal profits, from
50 percent to 300 percent.
capital had destructive effect on the subsistence economy of the local
population. In no way did it
contribute to serious development of production relations and did
contribute to the conservation of backward, closed, patriarchal economy of
the Tunguses. Such policy
with respect to native population fully suited the czarist government. That is why the Evenk, like many other northern peoples, in
their majority remained illiterate people moving toward extinction.
Entire clans would sometimes die from infectious diseases.
They also had stratification into the poor and the rich.
Nikolay G. Chernyshevsky left these reminiscences from his exile on
the Vilyuy telling about the life of Evenks and Yakuts: “Looking at
these people gives you pity,” he wrote on May 17, 1872.
“I have gotten accustomed to seeing poverty, very much
accustomed. But I cannot
remain indifferent when I see these people: their abject poverty makes my
callous soul feel nauseous. I
have stopped going to town in order to avoid meeting these hapless
democrat Afanasiy P. Shchapov [1831-1876] wrote that these people,
“(…)talented and brave, stagnate in ignorance, and we, apart from
failing to enlighten them, have impoverished, corrupted, and cowed them
and have pushed them to the verge of extinction.”
testimonies are very grim of course and must be in keeping with reality.
The very same yasak collection was accompanied by brutal and
sometimes inhuman ways of taking away furs from the natives.
To make them pay the tribute unconditionally, the fur tribute
collectors would take hostages from among the most respected members of
the clan or community or would often apply physical violence to the
debtors. In the corridors of
bureaucratic power then, the inhabitants of the northern borderland of the
Russian State were referred to as “fur-tribute strangers.”
The Tunguses, who usually were very cautious with natural resources
and who never took from the forest more than necessary, were forced to
double and triple their efforts hunting fur animals, mainly sables.
sources say that in 1812-1813 sables along the Yenisey and the Tunguskas
were very numerous. In
Turukhansk, they would sometimes even be killed with sticks in the yards. The royal purse used to receive from Turukhansk Territory
6,000-9,000 sables annually, hunted by the Tunguses. For those times and hunting methods (firearms were then bulky
and had wicks and were used mostly to hunt large wild animals), that was a
very impressive number of precious skins.
Soon, however, thoughtless, intensive hunting of the sable first
undermined its population and then reduced it to nothing.
As early as in 1862, the number of hunted sables dropped to 250.
That was a veritable environmental catastrophe.
The Yenisey Ridge sable practically disappeared in the Evenk taiga.
With the depletion of the sable population, tribute furs lost their
importance, as other, so-called color furs, were much less valuable than
the skins of the extinct animal. Therefore, the tribute began to be collected not only in kind
but also in cash in accordance with local costs.
the leading role of fur hunting receded, the center of traditional Evenk
economy moved toward the development of taiga reindeer herding. The smartest and most enterprising heads of households kept
hundreds or even thousands of reindeer.
Having many harness reindeer, the Evenk took up trade intermediary
business, buying from outside merchants the necessities of life and
reselling them to their fellow tribesmen.
They also concentrated in their hands the main tools of traditional
nature use: fishing tackle and hunting gear.
due to the coincidence of numerous circumstances (climate change and
epidemics), the native population in the Tungus country by the early 1800s
had dropped significantly. Accordingly,
the number of taxpayers had reduced.
That was a matter of major concern for the royal government. It was necessary to somehow influence the situation with the
general state of the dependent tribes.
The Regulations on the Government of Siberian Tribes, developed by
Mikhail M. Speranskiy, governor general of Siberia [1819-1821], was to
address the problem. The
statute legitimized the right of the indigenous population of Siberia to
private enterprise and trade and titles to “entire strips of land” for
traditional nature use, sufficient for the nomads to move around.
A number of articles prohibited the enslavement of the tribal
people by colonists and officials in power.
The aborigines were also given other opportunities and rights to
practice their traditional way of life and economy with minimal
interference by power structures.
Reindeer Herders Supported
# 382 of the Government of the Russian Federation “On additional
measures of state support to reindeer herding in 2000-2005” came out on
April 28, 2000. This was the
topic of my conversation with Vladislav Tikhonovich Zharov, chief of the
Department of Northern Development at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food
of the Russian Federation.
decree focuses on further development of reindeer herding, improved use of
its products, and provision of employment to indigenous peoples of the
North. On the basis of the
decree, the Russian Agriculture Ministry issued Order # 697 of August 4,
2000, which states the task to draft a program to stabilize and further
develop reindeer herding (in the first place, the bigger, harness reindeer
of the Tofalar breed) and increasing efficiency by introducing modern
herding cannot be put on its feet in Russia without state support.
Let us hope that such support will be provided, and consequently,
support will be provided to the indigenous peoples of the North.
Sambuu (Toja Tuvinian)
At the Association of Indigenous Peoples
On October 18,
2000, we, interns of the 15th Group of the L’auravetl’an Information
Center, met at the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North,
Siberia, and the Far East (RAIPON) with Pavel Vasilyevich Sulyandziga, who
briefed us on the accomplishments and prospects of the RAIPON.
In 1997-2000, the Association consolidated its structures and
conducted several comprehensive activities aimed at uniting regional
ethnic organizations, increasing the role of indigenous peoples in the
development of northern regions, and bringing to the attention of the
international community and state power agencies of Russia and its regions
the plight of the indigenous peoples of the North.
body of the Association is its congress, held once every four years.
The 4th Congress of the RAIPON will be held on March 26 – March
30, 2001. Every regional and
district association will send its delegates to the congress.
Association is working on three main projects:
Saami-Nordic Project for the publication of the World of Indigenous Peoples – Living Arctic journal;
Institutional Development of Russia’s Indigenous Peoples Project, which
includes support to regional associations.
In 30 regions, the associations have received office equipment, and
in 15, they have been hooked up to e-mail; and
-- The Small
Business Project. Month-long
courses will be held in Moscow for 10-12 persons doing small business in
their communities. Five of
them will go for training to America.
Ivanovna Abryutina, the Association’s vice president for health, was
born in Bilibino District of the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug [area, district,
region, or territory]. For a
long time, she was a physician in a mobile medical aid group servicing
reindeer herder teams. As the
manager of such a group, she strove to bring into the tundra all kinds of
medical specialists. A caring
person, she tries to help everyone. Larisa
Ivanovna has recently become Candidate of Political Science and is
actively involved in social work. Ms.
Abryutina does a lot as vice president as well, because entire settlements
are being abandoned in northern areas and physicians move to central areas
of the country.
As a result of
many months spent on visits to various organizations, she has reached
agreements with some clinics to service patients who have remained without
attending physicians. Over
the past four years, about 70 persons have been cured and many have been
operated on. Larisa Ivanovna
has a dream: to create a Health Protection Center under the Association.
Terletskaya, Galina Alotova
|Meeting at the Finnish Embassy||
Interns of the
15th Group of the L’auravetl’an Information Center have met with Ms.
Kristina Tronningsdal, Second Secretary of the Finnish Embassy in the
Russian Federation. Kristina
shared her impressions about Russia and noted that the multiethnic nature
of our country was what impressed her the most.
believes that meetings with representatives of indigenous peoples are very
important as it is thanks to such meetings that information from the
localities can be obtained directly, information that provides a realistic
picture of the situation existing in the areas where those peoples live. Only this way, in Kristina’s opinion, it is possible to
learn about the real causes of what is happening.
explained to us that if we want to change something in the life of our
peoples, we must act, initiating laws helping indigenous peoples hold out
in these hard times.
Also at the
embassy we were told about collaboration with NGOs, in particular, the
Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the
Far East and about the support to projects suggested by NGOs representing
Kristina’s personal opinion about Russia, her impressions are much more
positive than what she has imagined prior to seeing our country.
Today, one can speak about Russia as a country open to all kinds of
us about the state’s policy with respect to the Saami, native to
Finland. According to her,
the collaboration of the Finnish government with Russia is mainly
concentrated in the northwestern region.
The embassy maintains contacts with Mordovia and Tver and Saratov
Oblasts. Kristina noted the
importance of reviving the languages of indigenous peoples and told about
Finland’s representation in the Arctic Council and the Council’s
conference in Alaska. This
intergovernmental forum discussed diverse questions, including
environmental problems. Kristina
noted the enormous importance of the NGOs involved in supporting projects
suggested by the Russian side. Interaction
with these organizations is a feasible chance to find understanding and
We would like
to note that the meeting at the Embassy of Finland passed in a friendly
atmosphere, created by the hospitable hosts.
|At the Danish Embassy||
On October 13,
2000, we visited the Embassy of Denmark.
Fist Secretary Kristian Dons Kristensen gave us a friendly welcome. He told us that Denmark was dealing with problems of
indigenous peoples. The
Kingdom includes Greenland, inhabited by the Eskimos.
Although Greenland belongs to Denmark, it is a self-governed
territory. That means that
they decide internal questions on their own, but the Kingdom regulates
Greenland’s international policy.
world is dealing with problems of indigenous peoples,” Mr. Kristensen
noted. “We work with human
rights, in particular with the rights of the peoples of the North.
We pay special attention to environmental problems for it is a
world problem. To date,
Denmark has dealt with developing countries. Russia is not one of those;
therefore little assistance goes here.
Mainly, we provide assistance to territories situated in
northwestern Russia: Karelia, Murmansk and Kaliningrad Oblasts, etc.
At the same time, we can look into maters concerning environmental
matters in other regions as well. The
Danish Embassy has provided assistance to the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug in
sending toys to Chukotka District.
Ms. Susan King is
the deputy director of the Moscow mission of the John D. and Catherine T.
MacArthur Foundation, with whom L’auravetl’an Information Center 15th
Group interns have met.
Foundation is an independent, private, charitable organization providing
assistance to groups and individuals who strive to achieve sustainable
improvements in living conditions. The
Foundation strives to contribute to the development of healthy individuals
and efficient communities; keeping peace between and within countries;
practicing responsible choices in human reproduction as well as preserving
the global ecosystem capable of supporting healthy human communities.
The Foundation works toward those goals by supporting research and
development in policy making, replication of results, education, training,
including professional one, and practical activities.
Foundation’s initiatives in the Newly Independent States are aimed at
supporting independent research and innovative approach to the solution of
topical social problems, contributing to improving the professionalism and
strengthening the creative potential of practical researchers.
Also supported are ties between researchers in the independent
states of the region and their counterparts in the far abroad.
Foundation is focusing on four main areas:
of legal culture; realization by citizens of the role of legal mechanisms
in the protection of their rights; social security; social interest law;
law enforcement; and informational openness.
Protection of civil liberties; economic and social rights; rights
of women and minorities; economic change affecting women and minorities;
support of equal participation of women and minorities in public life;
women’s reproductive rights; and human-rights monitoring.
Sustainable development; maintaining biodiversity; public
participation in the preservation of ecosystems; legal, economic, and
social aspects of environmental protection and natural resource
management; innovative approaches ensuring efficient energy production and
consumption; and economic and environmental impact of energy production
Broad concepts of security addressing radical causes and
consequences of conflicts, including such as environmental degradation and
the use of natural resources; religion, ethnicity, migrations, and uneven
economic development; arms control and disarmament; and arms proliferation
and regional conflicts.
proposals can be in the form of a letter in a free format that may include
the following aspects:
that the project is called to solve;
description: its purposes and goals, ways to achieve them, and importance
of expected results;
starting date and project duration;
amount of funds requested;
project participants; and
about the organization and its activities.
accepted throughout the year.