|BULLETIN # 41|
XVIII group of interns
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Need To Deserve the Right To Represent your People
|You need To Deserve the Right To Represent your People||
A roundtable discussion on the topic “On the participation of representatives of indigenous peoples in the operation of legislative assemblies of Russian Federation components and elective local governance agencies” took place on July 2, 2001, in the Federation Council of the Russian Federation under the auspices of the Committee for the Affairs of the North and Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Federation.
Representatives of indigenous peoples of various regions of the Russian Federation and representatives of the Federation Council, the State Duma, and the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation attended the session.
The roundtable participants note that “the problem of representation of indigenous peoples in legislative entities of Russian Federation components and elective local governance agencies is important and topical for northern peoples for addressing the questions of ethnic development and regulating interethnic relations and guaranteeing constitutional rights and freedoms of man and citizen.”
Of all the speakers at the session, I believe, the following two presentations are noteworthy, as they were more constructive in addressing the existing problem.
From the presentation by V.A. Kryazhkov, adviser of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation:
“Many legal provisions do not work and have a restricted effect for the lack of political will to enforce those provisions. No norms regulate the development of local legislation. How do indigenous peoples participate in decision making? Is preference to indigenous peoples in legislation admissible?
Parliaments must be representative (all peoples must be represented equally). It is necessary to recognize the representation of indigenous peoples in legislation. The participation of indigenous peoples in legislative activity should not be reduced to representation only. There should be interaction with government agencies of different levels.”
From the presentation by M.A. Todyshev, vice president of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East:
“Article 13 of the Federal Law “On guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation” fails to be enforced. Then he presented “Data on the number of indigenous deputies in legislative assemblies of Russian Federation components and local governance agencies.” Only 11 regions of the Russian Federation had submitted the data!
It follows from the data that indigenous representatives in government agencies of Russian Federation components and local governance agencies currently constitute a minority, and in some regions, they lack altogether. A positive tendency is present only in the Khanty-Mansi and the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Districts (there, they have quotas for representatives of indigenous peoples in District legislative bodies, who are elected in a single multiseat territorial constituency; also in those regions, the community, as an entity of public territorial self-government, may be given some powers of a local governance agency). Ethnic administrative-and-territorial entities have been created in Karelia, the Buryat Republic, Sakhalin and Amur Oblasts, and a number of other regions.
Then, Mr. Todyshev noted that “such a situation has come about due to the negative attitude of some leaders of regions to the introduction of quotas for representatives of indigenous peoples in government bodies. Another factor is insufficient level of work of the local associations of indigenous peoples in the solution of these issues. Indigenous peoples should be given the power to introduce legislation. Relevant work should be done in this respect in the regions in local governance agencies. The positive experience in the enforcement of laws in the Khanty-Mansi and the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Districts should be studied.”
“Russian legislation should be changed and amended accordingly. In particular, Article 13 of the Federal Law “On guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation” should be amended by replacing the words “may be introduced,” referring to quotas for the representation of indigenous peoples in legislative bodies of Russian Federation components and elective local governance agencies, with the words “shall be introduced.”
On the whole, all the session participants coincided in the opinion that the federal laws concerning constitutional rights of indigenous peoples are imperfect and in reality are of declarative nature only. They supported the need for an inquiry to be directed to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation on the constitutionality of the existing norms concerning indigenous peoples and the mechanism of their enforcement and the monitoring of their enforcement by the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation. Roundtable participants recommend this in the appeal to the Federal Assembly, the Government, and legislative and executive bodies of Russian Federation components:
“Develop a mechanism to enforce federal legislative norms ensuring the participation of indigenous peoples in legislative activities; develop recommendations on organizing local governance in places of compact presence of indigenous peoples; establish the institution of plenipotentiary for indigenous peoples’ rights; create a council of consultants and experts on indigenous peoples’ issues under the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; solve the problem of instituting a structural division in regional executive bodies coordinating and organizing the solution of questions concerning the life of indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation.
In closing, I would like to share my vision of the problem. Indigenous peoples must have their representatives in legislative bodies of Russian Federation components and elective local governance agencies in their places of residence. We need that for living conditions and territories inhabited by our peoples to be taken into account and ethnic traditions and customs not to be violated when decisions are made. However, the introduction of quotas alone will not bring positive results without the realization of the fact that only a person worthy of being a representative of his or her people must represent it. Only people competent in every respect, who are able to see into many questions vital to people, irrespective of their ethnicity or any other characteristics, should be in power. You need to deserve the right to represent your people. Without realizing this, we will only be delegating our representatives, who will be making inadequate decisions, acting by order, or not acting at all. Will such people in power be necessary? I think that precisely due to the inaction of some of our representatives and leaders on the local level many problems fail to be addressed.
Therefore, at this point, we should not be sitting back waiting for the introduction of quotas of representation, but prove on our own our self-sufficiency and competence by concrete deeds and actions. The following example may be cited to prove this. V.M. Yetylin, Chukchi, has been elected State Duma deputy in the Chukchi Autonomous District. If he has been elected to this responsible position by the entire District, where the overwhelming majority of the population is Russian, that means that he indeed deserves the right to represent his region and his people in the supreme legislative body of the country. And this case should serve as an example to all indigenous peoples.
Problems of Urban Residents
The city of Komsomolsk had 1,831 indigenous inhabitants as of 1995. The youth from neighboring villages moves to live in the city, as it sees no future for itself. But once there, the young people face even greater difficulties: unemployment, expensive utilities and social services, etc. At the same time, they no longer have the means of support that belonged to them when they lived in their villages. First of all, this is our ethnic food: fish. Lately, beginning from 1999, a sharp reduction in the distribution of quotas on Siberian salmon for urban representatives of indigenous peoples has occurred. For the first time, the indigenes residing in Amursk, Komsomolsk, Khabarovsk, and Nikolayevsk did not receive their “norm fish.” This fact is a brazen violation of vested rights of indigenous peoples by the Department of Fishing of the Khabarovsk Territory Administration. Great Patriotic War veterans, large families, 1st and 2nd category disabled, and single pensioners have remained without salmon, which used to be of very much help to them in wintertime. Those people are unable to provide for themselves and their families.
Repeated letters to the Khabarovsk Territory Administration, its Department of Fishing, and the territorial Duma have failed to produce a positive result. We, urban residents, are worse off here, as rural residents are in a better situation and are able to provide themselves with the ethnic food. And we either buy it at market prices or remain without our ethnic food for the lack of money.
Our ancestors from the earliest times have been using the riches that nature would lavishly share with them, and they would thank it in their hearts and revere it. In those days, there were no laws that care so much about protecting our rights today, but we are no better off for that.
The Federal Law of the Russian Federation “On guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation,” Article 6, Paragraph 12, says that “For the purpose of protecting the traditional environment, way of life, and occupations of indigenous peoples, state government bodies in Russian Federation components shall have the right to issue licenses and establish quotas for traditional hunting and fishing occupations of indigenous peoples and monitor the compliance with those licenses and quotas.” And all we have to do is wait until our authorities choose to make use of its right.
Revival of Ethnic Clothes
Many people have lately begun having an interest in ethnic clothing and desire to make for oneself garments worn by one’s ancestors. A workshop in Petrozavodsk, sponsored by the Republican Center for Ethnic Cultures and held on December 12-16, 2000, was dedicated to this topic. The idea of the workshop had been born in the Veps Cultural Society and was supported and funded by the Barents Secretariat and the State Committee for Ethnic Policy of the Republic of Karelia.
Sixteen persons took part in the workshop, representing various regions inhabited by the Veps (Leningradskaya Oblast and the Veps Volost [district], Republic of Karelia) and various professions (professional training instructors, culture personalities, and leaders of folklore teams). During the workshop, its participants managed to learn how to make a sash woven on small planks; married women’s headdresses called povoynik and soroka and unmarried women’s headbands; and garments proper: shirt, skirt, or sleeveless dress. Not everything worked out from the very beginning, but as a result of the workshop, many elements were ready. The entire costume was completed at home one moth later.
The workshop was summed up on January 25, 2001, at the Sheltozero Veps Ethnographic Museum of the Veps Ethnic Volost. Workshop participants were displaying finished costumes before a jury. Local radio and television representatives and district newspaper correspondents attended the competition. Two costumes were selected. Lyubov Borisovna Gerchina, who had made a married woman’s costume, and Natalya Stepanova, who had made an unmarried young lady’s costume, both from the village of Sheltozero, came out the winners. Each one received an award of 1,500 rubles, and their costumes formed part of the museum’s permanent collection.
One wants to believe that the workshop participants will have followers, and costumes, apart from museum collections, will be a part of the daily life, as in the times of our ancestors.
The Only Veps Museum in the World
The village of Sheltozero in the Veps Ethnic Volost [district], Republic of Karelia, has the Veps Ethnographic Museum, the only museum in Russia telling about the material and spiritual culture of the Veps, descendants of the legendary Ves tribe.
The museum’s collection began to be formed in the 1960s on the initiative of Ryurik Petrovich Lonin, a Sheltozero regional history specialist and collector of Veps folklore. The first exhibition was opened in 1967, and then a people’s museum was created, which in 1980 became a branch of the Karelian State Regional History Museum.
The museum is located in a traditional Veps house, built in the early 1800s by Mr. Melkin, a merchant. It is one of the most beautiful and largest houses in the Veps Volost, a monument of Karelian wooden architecture.
The museum consists of four halls for permanent exhibits and two halls for temporary exhibitions: Hall 1 – Veps log house of the late 1800s-early 1900s; Hall 2 contains materials and exhibits about the occupations and the arts and crafts of the Veps; Hall 3 is a household yard; Hall 4 tells about the modern Veps culture and education. Halls 5 and 6 are used for temporary exhibitions.
Today, the museum holds more than 6,000 items. Basically, they are items collected in Veps villages in Karelia, and a small portion has been received in Leningradskaya and Vologda Oblasts. The museum holds collections on these topics: archeology, clay and wooden ware, objects made of birch bark and straw, produce of blacksmiths and weavers, written documents, photographs, etc. Exhibited at the same time are more than 2,000 items.
I am very happy that my people has such a museum, in which the current generation of young people and schoolkids may at least for a while contact their roots and learn about the culture of their people. This is especially important for us, as most of the Karelian Veps no longer live in accordance with their traditions.
Palana Teachers' Training School
In 1997, I graduated from the Elementary Grades Teachers’ Department of the Palana Teachers’ Training School, which gave me the right to teach the Koryak language, and stayed there to work as a tutor.
Our School was founded in 1990 pursuant to a decision of the Koryak Autonomous District Executive Committee. Two departments were opened: Elementary Grades Teacher with the right to teach a mother tongue (Koryak, Itelmen, or Even) and Daycare Center Teacher with the right to teach a mother tongue.
The school was founded due to the shortage of education workers with the knowledge of indigenous languages as well as poor financial condition of many school graduates, who cannot go to other regions of our country to continue their education.
These teachers were the pioneers of the school: Raisa Nikolayevna Avak, school director and Even language instructor; Galina Afanasyevna Zaporotskaya, Itelmen language instructor; Lyudmila Nikolayevna Kalashnikova, methodologist teaching mathematics and Russian language methodology; Irina Stepanovna Markevich, biology and regional history instructor; Valentina Romanovna Dedyk, Koryak language instructor and doctoral student; Tatyana Sergeyevna Medvedeva, Russian language and literature instructor; Tatyana Konstantinovna Zayeva, ethnopedagogy instructor; Tatyana Nikolayevna Menshenina, psychology instructor; and Nina Ivanovna Perezhigina, instructor of methodology of education based on work. Also, the current director: Valentina Dmitriyevna Rafikova, history and English language instructor. She is a real director; the energy that emanates from her charges all who work or simply find themselves side by side with her. Her attitude is not affected by the student’s age – 15 or 25 years – or ethnicity – Koryak, Even, or Itelmen – all the same, they are like kids to her, just like her own kids, of whom she has two.
At times one looks at her and thinks: When on earth does she manage to relax? She is at the school day and night: addressing all sorts of organizational matters – with the District Administration or the students. Indeed, wherever you look, students are involved: in village celebrations, sports events, literature conversaziones, panel games, all sorts of competitions held in Palana – everywhere you see students, and everywhere you feel the presence of Ms. Rafikova. And the classes that she teaches are exciting, informative, and unforgettable – all kinds of roundtables and binary classes. The knowledge you obtain in the two hours of her history class, for example, stays with you for the rest of your life. And the instructors value her as a manager – a captain who cares about everyone, irrespective of the number of years that the person has worked at the school; she is the team’s soul.
It is especially pleasant to me that it is in such a team that Galina Afanasyevna Zaporotskaya is working; Ms. Zaporotskaya teaches the Itelmen language, of which she is a native speaker; she has recently turned 65, and 20 out of them she has worked at the District Library, and for 10 years she has been teaching Itelmen. She is a brilliant educator and a sensitive and responsive, ready to help young instructors and students in an emergency. The Itelmen language is very difficult as it is, and she has to teach kids who have never heard the language spoken.
Annually, students receive the Governor’s Award. The awardees include Taisiya Vedmedenko, Galina Yeltyginina, Arina Biktasheva, Natalya Avye, and Radmila Tayat.
In the fall of 1999, the school moved to a new building. The classrooms are large, bright, and warm. The classroom of the Koryak and the Itelmen languages, mathematics and Russian language methodology, mathematics basics theory, and psychology are equipped with computers and copiers, and the classroom of the mother tongue is in addition equipped with a language laboratory technology. The classrooms are complete with methodological literature, supplied by the Akademkniga Academy of Science publications bookstore.
A new department opened in 1999 – Additional Pedagogical Education – which trains choreographers; it is a good training base for the Mengo State Academic Ethnic Ensemble. Famous dancers are studying at this department: Olga Lastochkina, Taras Gil, Mariya and Galina Bekkerova, Sergey Paderin, etc.
In April of 2000, the school went through state grading, and now our school is called the Palana State Teachers’ Training School.
In 2000, the entrance competition stood at three aspirants per place. Because of financial constraints, many school graduates cannot go to study to other regions. And the District has only two schools, both in Palana: the Palana State Teachers’ Training School and Vocational Training School # 1.
In the 10 years, 96 students have graduated, and 16 out of them are currently studying at colleges and universities; 41 are working at the District’s kindergartens; 33, at the District’s elementary schools; one, at the Teachers’ Training School; two, at the Administration; and one, at the Vocational Training School. It is pleasing that many after finishing our school do not stop at that and continue studying by correspondence at universities while staying on the job. They are Olga Maksimova (Khailino Village), Olesya Kutgigina (Middle Pakhachi Village), Lyudmila Severina (Tigil Village), and Irina Petruk (Khailino Village).
Students take part not only in the Mengo Ensemble; many frequent the Veem (River, in Koryak) Ensemble, founded by Valeriy Yetneut, former intern of the L’auravetl’an Information Center. This is an original ensemble; the musical accompaniment is by Valeriy’s mother – Mariya Tepenovna Yetneut – mainly, she performs clan songs; also some of the songs are sung by Valeriy, recorded on tape. Forming part of the ensemble are the School’s alumni: Yelena Solodyakova, Olga Yakovleva, Valentina Enpena, Lyubov Enpena, Matvey Dolgan, Mikhail Chernykh, and Olga Chechulina.
Very soon, a computer class will open at the school, and all the students will be able to learn how to handle the computer, the Internet, etc.
This year, graduates of our School have successfully passed state exams, and some of them, entrance exams to universities around Russia: they are Olga Chechulina, Vera Sipan, and Andrey Buklov.
Our School will not stop at those achievements. Even though some minor difficulties do occur, they can be removed with such a director as Ms. Rafikova.
Tun Payram, a colorful ethnic festival, is held annually in the steppe of Askiz District of the Republic of Khakass. It is an outstanding, unique festival welcoming summer, which has come down to us from the past centuries, and is usually held on the second Saturday in June. This year’s celebration was held on June 16. This Tun Payram – the first one in the new century and the new millennium – brought together a great many people in the Baza Meadow in Askiz District. Tun Payram was celebrated ahead of the 10-year anniversary of Khakass (this year, the festival has officially been conferred the status of a republican holiday). The Queen of Khakass herself came down to the attendees. Beautiful and majestic, she walked down a hill through a live corridor formed for her by children holding hands. She brought in her hands life-giving radiance dealing health and wellbeing to the people of the republic; the warmth of this radiance started the flame of Tun Payram. The head of our republic, Aleksey Lebed, traditionally addressed the people in Khakass and Russian. At the festival, everyone could see what they wanted: from horseback riding to hang gliders in the sky above the meadow and from ethnic wrestling and bow shooting to the takhpakhchi competition.
I hope that in the nearest future our Shor people will be taking an active role in the Khakass festival, as we live in this republic. And this depends on us, on the youth. The youth are the people’s future.
Meet the Republic of Khakass
Vast and unbounded is Russia; enormous is Siberia, its western portion, in the south of which the Republic of Khakass is located. It is 50 percent larger than Switzerland, Denmark, or Holland and is twice the size of Belgium. It extends 460 kilometers [286 miles] from north to south and 200 kilometers [118 miles] from west to east. The area of Khakass is 61,900 square kilometers [23,900 square miles] with a population of 584,900 persons representing 108 ethnic groups. The most numerous peoples are the Russians, the Khakass, the Ukrainians, the Tartars, the Belorussians, the Germans, and the Poles. It took almost 100 years for the Khakass land to join Russia. With the construction of the Abakan stockaded town in 1707, these lands formed part of the Russian Empire.
The nature of Khakass is wonderful. Mountains cover two-thirds of the republic. The climate is continental, with cold winter and hot summer. The number of sunny days is much greater than in western regions of the country, which makes the growing of watermelons, apricots, pears, apples, and even grape possible.
The republic has 300 small lakes, with salt and fresh water, highland and steppe ones. The famous curative properties of the Shira Lake resort are known outside of Khakass. The resort has been operating for 100 years. The republic has 230 rivers and rivulets. The Abakan River, rapid at its source, has given its name to the city. The powerful Yenisey, after abandoning its narrow bed among the Sayan ridges, flows majestic through the Khakass steppe.
The city of Abakan, the republic’s administrative and cultural center, acquired the status on January 20, 1930. Its population is more than 165,500 inhabitants. The city is relatively young. Its architecture is modern; it is bosomed in trees. Its parks, squares, and places of relaxation satisfy the eye.
A dam 242 meters high has been build in a picturesque place on the Yenisey among the Sayan Mountains, embodying the strongest and most unique achievements in hydroelectric engineering. With the construction of the Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Power Station, a young city appears on the map of Khakass: Sayanogorsk. Sayanogorsk is known well beyond the boundaries of Khakass not only by the production of the Sayan Aluminum Plant, manufacturing 90 percent of the republic’s exports, and the Sayanal Association, manufacturing the famous aluminum foil, but also by one of the largest enterprises in Russia: the Sayanmramor Open Joint-Stock Company. Sayan marble is of just as high quality as Italian and has up to 32 shades of color. Chernogorsk is a city that provides the country with coal. Abaza and Teya are rich iron-ore deposits.
Khakass is an industrial and agrarian republic. It grows mostly grains: wheat, oats, and barley. Livestock breeding is developed. The dominant industry is sheep breeding. Abakan’s institutions of higher learning, colleges, and lycées train specialists with both higher education and associates. A teachers’ training institute opened in 1944, which since 1996 has had the status of the Khakass N.F. Katanov State University. It trains specialists in public education and law. The Institute of Sayan-Altai Turkic Studies, which trains teachers and culture workers with the knowledge of Khakass and other Turkic languages, is gaining strength. The Khakass Research Institute of the Language, Literature, and History takes a priority role in the study of the ethnic culture. Its researchers do much work in studying the Khakass people’s ethnic heritage.
Khakass is considered to be Siberia’s archeological Mecca; it attracts both domestic and international researchers. The Khakass Republican Regional Studies Museum is Khakass’s identifying mark. Its collection today includes more than 95,000 exhibits. About 150,000 tourists, visitors, and residents of the republic visit it annually. The collection of stone statues is the museum’s pride. The statues are about 5,000 years old.
The Ethnic Theater, created in 1931, is the oldest in Khakass. The development and propagation of Khakass drama is the theater’s task number one. Native inhabitants of the republic honor and preserve the cultural traditions of their land.
About 1,300 Shor reside in Khakass today; they face the same problems that other indigenous peoples do: a crisis of traditional occupations, short life expectancy, high level of socially conditioned diseases, etc.
The intensive development of the natural resources in Highland Shoria and the reduction of the percentage of the Shor in the overall population led in 1938 to the termination of the ethnic district, as a result of which the eastern portion of Highland Shoria was joined to the Khakass Autonomous Oblast (today, the Republic of Khakass). Typical for the ethnic situation of the Khakass Shor is their assimilation with the linguistically close Khakass.
Decree # 997 of the Government of the Russian Federation of 10.07.93 includes in the list of areas populated by indigenous peoples of the North the village of Balyksa in Askiz District and the villages of Matur and Anchul in Tashtyp District, Khakass. Today, 440 Shor reside in those areas: 366 persons in Balyksa Village and 74 persons in Anchul and Matur villages. The main body of the indigenous population is unemployed due to the decay of traditional occupations. What one manages to earn in insufficient to support a family. Thence, the high level of socially conditioned diseases and short life expectancy.
As of 1999, the incidence of illness among indigenous peoples had grown by 5.6 percent as against 1989. The incidence of illness had grown by 10 percent among adults and by 1.3 percent among children and had dropped by 8.1 percent among adolescents. In the course of 1999, the Shor population grew by 5 persons.
I wish good health to those kids and those who were born in 2000 and 2001. I wish the parents of those kids to have strength, patience and, of course, health. That is the most important thing.
First Doctor of Psychology in the Republic of Tyva
On June 28, 2001, our group’s interns happened to attend the defense of the doctoral dissertation “Family Psychology among the Tyva in Conditions of Socioeconomic Change” by Natalya Oyunovna Tovuu. The research specializes in Social Psychology. The defense took place at the National Management University in Moscow.
Her research had lasted for 10 years. A survey comprising 500 questions was conducted among families. The questions had to be translated into Tuvinian. The survey encompassed not only Tuvinians, but Russian-speaking population as well.
Many researchers from various institutes and academies attended the defense. A heated discussion, long forgotten by the academic council, took place. Ms. Tovuu’s presentation was very impressive; no trace of nervousness of a person defending her years-old work was noticeable; it looked like she was introducing an article that she had written. She would respond competently and clearly to the opponents’ questions, taking their criticism into account for the future.
In the course of work on this research, the Family Association was opened in the Republic of Tyva, focusing on family problems, and the Yurta Mira [Peace Yurt] Charitable NGO of Tuvinian researchers was created in Moscow.
We, 18th Group interns of the L’auravetl’an Information Center, are congratulating Ms. Tovuu on her successful defense of her doctoral dissertation and are wishing her further success, good health, and happiness.
There has been a remarkable person in the history of the Yukaghir people, who has left a prominent trace in the life of Russia’s indigenous peoples. His fate was interesting and at the same time, tragic.
Nikolay Ivanovich Spiridonov was born on May 22, 1906, in the place called Nelemnoye into the family of a hunter, Atylyakhan, being his eleventh child. After the death of elder children, he was sent to serve merchants in Srednekolymsk, where he managed to attend a parochial school. Under the Soviet rule, N.I. Spiridonov finished a Soviet Party School in Yakutsk in 1925 and was sent to Leningrad to study. During his study at the university, he took an active role in the work of the Committee of the North under the All-Union Central Executive Committee of the USSR and would travel to the Kolyma with expeditions to collect ethnographic materials and to Chukotka to establish an ethnic district. It was then that he began publishing his scholarly articles (The Yukaghirs and The Yukaghir Language) and essays (In the North and The Odul/Yukaghir of the Kolyma District). In 1931, he successfully graduated from the ethnographic division of the Leningrad National University, entered the postgraduate department of the Institute of the Peoples of the North, from which he graduated in 1934 after defending the dissertation “Trade Exploitation of the Yukaghirs” for the degree of Ph.D. Candidate in Economics.
However, N.I. Spiridonov, under the pen name of Tekki Odulok, is more widely known as the author of the story The Life of Imteurgin, Sr., published in 1934. The story was a great success; in three years, it was reprinted three times and translated and published in the United Kingdom, France, and Czechoslovakia, and the author became one of the winners in the all-union competition for the best book for children and adolescents. By 1937, a continuation of the story had been ready. However, on April 30, 1937, Tekki Odulok was arrested, convicted as a Japanese spy, and executed by firing squad on March 17, 1938. He was rehabilitated on October 29, 1955.
Nikolay Ivanovich Spiridonov/Tekki Odulok – economist, talented writer, and founder of the Yukaghir literature – lived a short but brilliant life. A school in the village of Nelemnoye, Upper Kolyma Ulus [district], Republic of Sakha, bears his name. He will live forever in the memory of the Yukaghir people.
The Odul/Yukagir of the Upper Kolyma
The Yukaghirs are the most ancient people in Northeastern Asia. They belong to the Yukaghiran group of the Uralic-Yukaghiran linguistic family. In the 1600s, prior to the arrival of the Russian pioneers, the Yukaghirs inhabited the vast territory from the Lena to the Sea of Okhotsk and Anadyr and numbered 4,500-5,000 persons [other estimates place their numbers at the time when the Russians arrived in the mid-1600s at 5,000-9,000 persons. –Translator’s note]. In ancient times, they had ranged even wider: all the way to the Yenisey in the west. Moreover, some researchers believe that at that time they also inhabited lands in Alaska but later mysteriously disappeared from there.
Yakut legends speak about the Yukaghirs’ great numbers: they call aurora borealis “Yukaghir fires,” considering it to be a reflection of the fires of numerous Yukaghir camps. Some birds, according to a Yakut tradition, have turned black as they have flown over Yukaghir fires and became covered with soot. Later, however, the Yukaghir population dropped precipitously as a result of wars, epidemics, and famine. Some of the Yukaghirs have been assimilated by newly arrived peoples: the Tungus, the Russians, and the Yakut.
Today, the Yukaghir reside in the Republic of Sakha, in Magadan Oblast, and in the Chukchi Autonomous District and number 1,112 persons (according to the 1989 Census). However, only two small groups have kept the native language and culture – the Vadul/Alay and the Odul/Kogime – forming compact clusters in the village of Andryushkino, Nizhnekolumsk (Lower Kolyma) Ulus [district] and in the village of Nelemnoye, Verkhnekolymsk (Upper Kolyma) Ulus, both in the Republic of Sakha/Yakutia. The two groups differ not only in their traditional culture and occupations (the Vadul are mainly involved in reindeer herding, and the Odul, in hunting and fishing), but also in the language.
The Yukaghir language today comprises the Tundra and the Kolyma dialects, but they differ just as much as Yakut and Kirghiz or as Russian and Belorussian. Over the past three decades, linguists researching Yukaghir – Y.A. Kreynovich, G.N. Kurilov, Y.A. Maslova, and I.A. Nikolayeva – have proven that these dialects are separate, closely related languages. A linguistic research into the words of the Omok and the Chuvan languages made by G.N. Kurilov enables us to speak about the existence in the past of at least four separate, closely related Yukaghir languages and, consequently, peoples: the Omok, the Chuvan, the Alay, and the Kogime. From there, we may conclude that by the time the Russians arrived to Northeastern Asia, several Yukaghir-speaking peoples had existed there. All the Yukaghir-speaking tribes – the Anaul, the Lavren, the Olyuben, the Omok, the Penjin, the Khodyn, the Khoromoy, the Chuvan, the Shoromboy, the Yandin, the Yandyr, the Kogime, and the Alay – were wrongly being registered by Russians in the tax books as “clans” of one and the same people. Such a mistake, experts on the Yukaghir believe, is due to the fact that all the Yukaghir tribes’ self-names are the same (Odul and Vadul, which means “strong, powerful”) and that their language and culture have not been studied very well. On the basis of researches of the Yukaghir language and the traditional culture of the Yukaghir, one can speak about the Upper Kolyma Odul/Yukaghir being a separate Yukaghir-speaking ethnos.
At present, the two separate Yukaghiran peoples – the Lower Kolyma Alay and the Upper Kolyma Kogime – in the interests of preserving the common Yukaghiran culture are acting as one people, for together it is easier to work out a joint action plan to save it.
The Upper Kolyma Yukaghir during all of the 20th century strove to preserve themselves as a people and keep their language and culture alive. However, in the Soviet period, as a result of the internationalization policy pursued among the peoples of the North and assimilation processes, the Upper Kolyma Odul found themselves on the verge of extinction by the late 1980s. At present, practically the entire Odul Nation is concentrated in the village of Nelemnoye, Verkhnekolymsk (Upper Kolyma) Ulus, Republic of Sakha/Yakutia, where 160 out of the roughly 200 Odul live. Only 30 percent of the Odul know their native language and culture, and in spite of the measures taken to preserve the language and culture, the situation remains complicated. Due to this, it is necessary to study the problem of survival of the disappearing ethnos, its history, and the language and traditional culture of the Odul.
Meeting with a Shaman
A meeting with a Tuvinian shaman, Kanchyyr-ool Saylyk-ool Ivanovich, who is known almost worldwide, took place at the Information Center on June 25. He briefly told us about shamans, about himself, and that he has many disciples both in this country and abroad. The narration was breathtaking, and we were interested to know what spirits were saying about us, and each one received a response. Then Saylyk-ool Ivanovich held a purification ceremony for the office space and for us, so that the Information Center could live and prosper and the interns, who have obtained knowledge and skills, could successfully actualize themselves and help their respective peoples. It was the first such ceremony in the Center’s entire lifetime. We were privileged to take part and to get personally acquainted with the medicine man.
He is the first shaman whom I have met. I will tell you that finding myself by the side of such a person I feel some special climate. It is such a feeling as though there are others next to you and around you. Maybe this way we feel the presence of our ancestors.
Developing Udege Ethnic Hunting Economy
In Soviet times, the Udege hunting enterprise on the territory of the village of Krasnyy Yar, Maritime Territory, was developing as a public hunting enterprise, named Pozharskiy. In 1994, when the Russian economy was switching to market-based relations, the enterprise became an ethnic hunting enterprise (EHE), named Bikin. The Russian market has affected the EHE. Without support from the state, the enterprise found itself on the verge of collapse. At present, due to changed administration and investment, the Bikin EHE is gradually reviving. In this article, I will write about what could be done, in my opinion, for the enterprise to acquire stability on the market.
The Bikin EHE basically operates in the sphere of the Udege’s traditional occupations: hunting and gathering. It includes fur and meat harvesting and the harvesting of wild berries, fern, and medicinal plants (nontimber forest products), as well as logging and primary processing of timber for the needs of the population and sale of the products. Along with its basic operations, the enterprise carries out other functions as well: electric power generation, supporting the housing and communal facilities of the village (construction and repair of housing and other facilities), providing firewood to organizations and the population, transportation services, baking, sale of industrial goods and food to the people, and others.
The Bikin EHE basically draws its income from the sale of furs and nontimber forest products. In conditions of centralized planning, there were no problems with the sale of harvested products, and the enterprise was fairly profitable. Today, the hunting enterprise has to remain competitive along with other economic entities. For many reasons, it is very hard to do.
Collective fur-animal-breeding-farm boom has been here over the past few years. These businesses have not got lost in the rough sea of a market economy, but instead have taken leading positions on the raw-fur market.
One cannot say that fur harvesting is an unpromising area for the Bikin EHE. The demand for fur is still there, and the enterprise’s task is to keep its place on the market. Yet, here you kind of “make a contract with nature.” Due to the changing environmental situation and a large number of other buyers, it is very difficult to forecast the number of harvested units today. And even with high rates of fur harvesting, it will be very difficult to compete on the market with the collective fur-breeding farms. In this situation, it would be a good idea for the Bikin EHE to set up shops to (1) breed certain types of fur animals; (2) work the furs and skins of wild animals; and (3) make clothes and hats.
This project would require additional resources but has many positive sides:
1. Additional profits would appear from the sale of larger amounts of furs and finished products in the shape of clothes and hats.
2. Additional jobs would appear for the local indigenous population, which is very important in conditions of joblessness and the lack of money.
3. Revival and preservation of traditional ethnic techniques of working furs and skins of wild animals.
4. Maintaining the population of certain fur species inhabiting in the Bikin River Valley.
In nontimber forest product harvesting, the enterprise faces a situation similar to that with furs. At one time, due to the lack of what could be called demand, the Bikin EHE practically stopped harvesting those products. It is necessary to revive this type of harvesting at the enterprise. To increase the number of orders and conclude direct contracts with consumers, it is necessary to identify an efficient marketing strategy. It may consist in the following:
1. Market Research
1.1. Market research. Research the market to determine the status of the rivals, identify the demand, and determine feasible amounts of harvesting and sales for a stable position on this market and normal functioning of the enterprise (earning a profit to cover all the expenses and turn over gained funds).
1.2. Determining the circle of potential consumers. To identify the demand and plan the volume of harvesting for nontimber forest products, it is necessary to identify potential buyers who would be interested in the product. Those could be pharmaceutical entities, food industry enterprises, public catering businesses, retail trade businesses, the general public, and foreign companies.
2. Commodity Promotion
2.1. Preparing information about the commodity for the consumer. The information must be reliable and must contain qualitative characteristics of the commodities and interest consumers in acquiring the products. The information should stress the useful qualities of the nontimber forest products for the human body and their ecological cleanliness.
2.2. Efficiency of information provision. Transmission of the information to potential buyers via specialized publications, mass media, own representatives in various districts of the region and other regions of the country. Establishing contacts through own representatives with foreign partners and entering the international market.
2.3. Making contracts. Establishing contacts with consumers and making contracts. Pricing must ensure profit for the enterprise’s normal functioning. Develop a discount system: (a) for permanent customers; (b) for consumers purchasing large amounts; and (c) others. Any form of settlement, including barter.
2.4. Opening own retail outlets in the district.
3. Primary Processing of Nontimber Forest Products
3.1. Preparing products for sale. Quality processing of nontimber forest products (drying, packaging, etc.) by using traditional methods. Assessment by experts from appropriate agencies to check the quality level and usefulness. Do the paperwork correctly and abide by all the conditions for registration and licensing for the sale of the products.
3.2. Using traditional ethnic recipes: Many plants growing in the taiga have most valuable medicinal qualities and are health-giving. It is necessary to revive and keep alive traditional ethnic formulas of making medicinal preparations and remedies that would help in curing many illnesses. This is very important, for it is part of the Udege culture, and as time passes, popular knowledge in this sphere might be lost irretrievably.
In closing, I would like to note the following. These projects may for various circumstances be unfit for implementation at this point. Some components might be implemented today, and others, in the future. Still, the current processes in the economy require new solutions in production organization at enterprises, in particular, in hunting. The program might be implemented at other hunter enterprises on territories inhabited by indigenous peoples of Russia. When these projects are implemented, the activities described above will require broader and more detailed examination and, when appropriate, amendments and corrections.
On the whole, though, ethnic hunter enterprises need to reorient their operations in the direction of projects protecting and supporting the environmental situation on the territories they inhabit and traditionally use, in particular, in the Bikin River Valley. One of such areas is the development of ecotourism on this territory. This new type of business is only beginning to spread in Russia and its development will require much work on its organization by enterprises.
And the last thing. It is important to note that in implementing whatever measures to support the hunting economy in places inhabited by Russia’s aborigines, support from national and regional authorities is needed. This can consist in the following: providing privileged credits to develop basic types of operation; reducing the tax burden for ethnic enterprises and other businesses; ensuring to indigenous peoples the title to the lands that they have been using traditionally; and more precise and improved laws concerning Russia’s indigenous peoples. It is not so important here to fund this or that project, but first of all ensure conditions for normal, civilized work, which is practically impossible in today’s Russia.
Our future… What will it be like a few years from now? What values and what heritage we will leave to our children depends on our responsible attitude today.
Page one of the Information Bulletin bears this phrase in bold type: “Think not what your people can do for you, but what you can do for your people!” I believe that it is a very good slogan, as everything begins with the change of your own thinking. In the final analysis, selfish, consumer’s attitude toward land, people, and each other leads to destruction. If today we fail to care enough to pass down to our children our popular heritage, tomorrow our children will have no use for it. Mutual disassociation and alienation from one’s people’s way of life and culture lead to the disappearance of the people. Also, the destructive ideology of the socialist regime has contributed its bit. However, in spite of all that, we are living in times when ethnic culture, traditions, and traditional way of life are reviving.
An NGO of northern aboriginal peoples has been created – the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East – as have been the Russian Youth Union of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East, the Deputies’ Assembly of Indigenous Peoples, the International League of Indigenous Peoples, and others. All those organizations do much work on the development and survival of indigenous peoples. I have learned about the work of these associations at the L’auravetl’an Information Center. Before this, I did not have a chance to deal with either these organizations or people working there. For lack of information, a large portion of the people does not know about the possibilities that exist for people to take part in the solution of vitally important questions that directly affect them and fail to participate in conferences and other events that are held. A structure that would unite a native people on the local level and thus open the access to information is lacking.
I believe that the creation of indigenous communities will solve not only this problem. A community is an association that will be addressing on its own its problems, defending its rights and interests and will not be waiting for outside help. By uniting on the district level, communities will be able to develop joint activities and mutual help in carrying out various activities and will become an information center that will help attract large numbers of indigenous people to active participation in social life.
From 1995 to 2004, the United Nations has proclaimed the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, one of the main objectives of which is to create conditions – socioeconomic, legal, and political ones – to improve the situation of indigenous peoples.
On April 16, 1999, the State Duma of the Russian Federation passed the Federal Law “On guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation.” On July 7, 2000, the Federal Law “On the general principles of the organization of communities of indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East” was issued. On April 4, 2001, the Law “On the territories of traditional nature management by indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East” was passed.
It is necessary to use those laws and implement them. Other than we, no one else out there will do it. The L’auravetl’an Information Center in Moscow does invaluable work in making one feel a person who has ample possibilities and rights, not someone of second rate. One begins to feel secure about the future. By uniting, we become stronger and can achieve a lot.