|BULLETIN # 9 - 10|
IV group of interns
|An intern of the IV group Mr. Valery Etneut, a Koriak from the Koriak autonomous region in Kamtchatka, was knifed to death shortly after his return to his home community. Valery was talented choreographer, dancer and musician. His integrity, courage and heart will be never forgotten. His spirit will always be with us, his people and his land that he was a part of and loved so much.|
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Should Evenk be United?|
The Future of any People is in the Hands of the People Itself
"Berezovsky" Union of the Nomadic Family Clans
Is there a Chance for an Indigenous Collective "Mongol"?
What is the Wild Life Preserve "Koriaksky" and Who Needs it?
Koriak Reindeer Herders and Their Problems
Healthy Children means a Healthy People
Who Are the Sami?
Selkoop Indigenous People
Meeting of Interns at the Federal Ministry of Health of Russian Federation
Who Must Answer?
|Should Evenk be United?||Evenk indigenous people is in an unique situation. Because of its dependence on reindeer Evenk have spread throughout a huge territory from Enisey river to the Sakhalin island and is divided by numerous geopolitical boundaries between many subjects of the Russian Federation. There are about 30 000 Evenks in Russia and about the same number lives abroad. Besides there are two other indigenous peoples in Russia which are relatives of Evenk and who live the same nomadic reindeer-herding life. These are Even and Orotch.|
Some could say that our situation is more secure than many other indigenous peoples in Russia who number less than 4 000 people. But the Evenk problem is that we are broken into small groups, very often no more than 2-3 000 people, that are lost in the midst of much more numerous Yakut, Russians and Buriats.
Those small groups of Evenks are not connected with each-other in any way and are struggling to preserve its own unique and ancient culture. Neither the Yakut-Sakha government, nor the Russian government are capable to unite us and help our people survive as a people. Evenk are kind off dissolving among the dominating ethnic groups.
But if we are to find a way to unite our communities - we could, due to our relatively large numbers, preserve and revive our own culture and the way of life.
It is absolutely unrealistic even to attempt to be united on single “Evenk” territory. But to be united within the Evenk “ethno-cultural autonomy” - is something to think about. The Federal law on “Ethno-Cultural Autonomy” is already in effect in Russian Federation from June 1996.
Using that law we can create one ethnic “union” regardless were the Evenk live, connect every Evenk community with one information network, open our community and cultural centers, create our own forms of self-governing and even our own Evenk schools. Once united - our people will gain back the spirit that is almost gone now.
Also we can be much more effective politically. For instance, there are plans to create a refuge on the traditional territories of the Tungokotchen Evenk in Tchita region. Any kind of hunting will be strictly forbidden there. If only 1400 Evenks of the region are to oppose the plan it is not as effective as if all 60-70 000 people strong Evenk community show the united opposition.
The international experience of Sami and Innuit people show that one people can be effectively united in one political force across more than one geopolitical frontier. They became a real factor even in the intergovernmental relations of different countries.
We the Evenk live in Russia, Mongolia and China. So what do you say brothers and sisters? Shall we lift our heads up?
|82 workers of a reindeer enterprise “Primorsky” in Bulun ulus, Yakut-Sakha Republic have not been paid since 1995. They have been sending numerous letters to the government of the republic and its president Mr. M.E. Nikolaev, but to no avail.|
The Future of any People is in the Hands of the People itself
|It is not a state secret that the state financing and subsidies of the Northern regions of Russia is almost nil. To talk about housing building or small business development for the Northern communities right now one can do only hypothetically. To say that that is sad is an understatement. No one in our communities remembers now what it is a paid-on-time-salary. But to be fair we must acknowledge that ever so often we do get some financial support from the authorities. But how far a family can get on 150 000 - 250 000 Ruble (26 - 40 USD) a month (the sum depends on number of children)? In our Koriak district in Kamtchatka a loaf of bread costs 2USD. One does not need to be a great mind to come to a fairly accurate prognosis for the future if the situation does not change - sooner or later the patience of people will run out.|
This catastrophic situation the best can be illustrated by the troubles and tribulations of the education system in Koriak autonomous region of Kamtchatka. No teacher was paid for the last 6 months. Schools have not had new text books or supplies for almost a year. In the spring of 1997 more than half of our teachers were forced to join the all Russian educators strike. For a teacher to live his/her students unattended is the most difficult thing to do. That means that people can not accept anymore what is going on. It is a simple constitutional truth - people must be paid for doing their jobs. Why Russia ignores that truth?
And our children have enough to endure without the teachers strike. Unusually harsh winter with heavy snow-storms and law temperatures led to the wide spread flues and schools being forced to close down for weeks. Very possible that out of the entire school-year program our children got may be 50%. Then what to do those who have to compete this year for a place in an university?
Even more than by the unsatisfactory education our children chances for higher education are hampered by the absolute absences of money in indigenous families. Quite often our high school graduates are staying in their communities, living with their parents, because they have no money even to travel to a bigger town or city. Without any skill they are doomed to become unemployed bums. A few lucky ones can get the most menial jobs.
During numerous meetings of interns with various federal ministries all we could hear was: ”Most of those issues is business of the regional authorities, not ours. You should find the solutions with your regional leadership.”. How could we find money in the regional budgets if most of the Northern regions are on the federal subsidies? We at the IIC are convinced that financing of the education for the indigenous youngsters must be the direct responsibility of the federal government.
"Berezovsky" Union of the Nomadic Family Clans
|Even nomadic family clans of Berezovsky nasleg (district) of Yakut-Sakha republic joined in the union. The head of the union is Ms. Anna S. Volkova.|
Is there a Chance for an Indigenous Collective "Mongol"
|An Ultchi collective “Mongol” (Ultchi district, Khabarovsk region) exists since 1991. The head of “Mongol” is Mr. Aleksandr V. Valdiu. The main activities of the collective are fishing, hunting and some farming. Besides Mr. Valdiu there are 6 more people at the collective. It is not an exaggeration to say that “Mongol” keeps the entire community alive. The collective for free gets fish and farming products and the fire wood for the older families and the single mothers, builds and repairs houses.|
In 1995 GOSKOMSEVER agreed to finance a much needed refrigeration facility for the community. The collective, while waiting for the money from the GOSKOMSEVER, started the construction and successfully completed it in 1996. But “Mongol” still waiting for the money promised. They are heavily in debt and if during the next few months the money will not come the collective will be forced to close down. What will be the fate of the entire community if that happened?
What is the Wild Life Preserve "koriaksky" and Who Needs it?
|Everybody knows that the nature in the Arctic is unique and beautiful and it is one of the foremost duties of humanity to preserve it for the future generations. Thus, any Wild Life Preserve in the Arctic must be welcomed. Is it so?|
In the North of Kamtchatka recently was created “Koriaksky” Wild Life Preserve. Its territory is comprised of the two districts where Indigenous people live traditionally - Oliutorsky and Pendzhinsky districts. The nature in that area is remarkable. The land is reach in multitude of fur animals, the Snowy Rams and brown bears. Also one of the biggest on Earth kind of moos lives there.
The financing of the preserve was planned from the Wild Life Fund. The Fund actually gave money for the “developing stage”. That was barely enough to get the office space.
It is a worthy and noble idea to create a preserve. But to announce a piece of land a “preserve” does not yet mean to preserve the nature. With the official “creation” of the preserve the whole host of problems have arisen. Money is needed to buy the necessary equipment, fuel, supplies. They are planning to hire about 30 people staff. Their up-keep and salaries also cost a lot of money.
That is only one major problem. The other one was told to the interns by the Vice-Chair of the Committee for the North of the State Duma Mr. Grigory M. Oinvid, a deputy from Koriak region and a Koriak himself. The gist of the problem is that the preserve is on the traditional territory of Koriak people who for many centuries herded there reindeers, hunted and fished. According to the law on the preserve no economic activity can take place on its territory. That means that the preserve took away from the Koriak communities their traditional ancestral lands. According to Mr. Oinvid the Koriak communities and his committee will insist on a review of the preserve’s territory. He said: ”From whom they are planning to protect the nature on that preserve? From those people who have lived with that nature in harmony and tended to it for centuries? That is ridiculous!”.
As one can see the question of the preserve is not as a clear cut as the environmentalists and the Wild Life Fund see it. May be some one will find this issue important enough to propose some innovative solutions?
Koriak Reindeer Herders and Their Problems
|In Koriak Autonomous region there are several family clan collectives that herd reindeers. They are nomadic and to get the necessary supplies from towns to the camps cost a lot of money. Besides the collectives must pay the same taxes as any other business. But for Koriak the reindeer herding is not a business, it is an ancient way of life. Kind of a piece of the entire world creation. Koriak do it whether they make money on it or not and will do it until they and reindeer exist.|
There is another major problem - during the soviet days the state had all kinds of financial subsidies for the herders and was the biggest buyer for their products. The herders can not get used to the new times when nobody really cares about them and their reindeers. They have to understand that they have to learn to survive in the new times.
And then there is vodka. Many non-indigenous people pass by the camps and get the herders to slaughter a reindeer for a bottle.
Our survival depends on us only. To get through these new times we need the new way of thinking.
Healthy Children means a Healthy People
|At the north of Tchita region lives an indigenous people Evenk. There 1052 of them in total and 380 are children.|
All indigenous peoples of the North of Russia live below the accepted standards and the Tchita Evenk are not an exception. Bad food, heavy vitamin deficiency and absence of adequate health care are the causes for the low immunity. A research among indigenous children by the Tchita Pediatric Health Research Institute in February 1997 showed clear direct connection between the poor health and loss of Evenk traditional economic activities such as reindeer herding, hunting and fishing. The rampant joblessness in the Evenk communities leads to the wide spread alcoholism not only among adults but among the teenagers as well. That probably is the cause of a high level of tuberculosis. Every fifth child is infected. Practically every one has severe dental problems. Helminthosis is 90% compare to 8% average among the non-indigenous children. About 80% of children of the school age have goiter problems. More than 50% of Evenk children suffer from neurological disorders. The infant mortality is 1.7 times higher than Russia’s average.
All the above is the clear indication that Tchita Evenk can very soon cease to exist not only as a people but as people as well. After the spiritual death the physical death follows real soon.
Who Are the Sami?
|Once up on a time the Sami Indigenous people were called by the Russians “lopari”. By the Europeans they were called Laplanders. Tacitus wrote at I century b.c. “ ...Those people are happier all of us who are laboring farming, getting tired by building a house and live in fear over our material possessions.”. Russian anthropologist A. I. Kelsiev wrote: ”lopari are honest people, kind, pleasant, hospitable, happy and highly mild in their family lives.”.|
Sami language is part of the Finno - Ugric group. But stands aside since one third of the lexical sub-strata does not correspond to the other languages in the group. As far as the anthropologists are concerned the Sami have almost nothing in common with the Finno-Ugric people.
In the first quarter of the XIV century the Kola peninsula was “discovered” by the Norwegians. In the XV century the Norwegians divided the Kola Sami into four groups - Kontchan, Ter, Lesheu and the Wild (not baptized).
At the present the total number of Sami in Scandinavia and Russia is 31 000. Their language has 55 dialects. The Kola Sami have 4 dialects - Notozersky, Babinky, Iokan’gsky and Kildinsky.
The total number of the Kola Sami is 1700. Once the famous Russian writer Prishvin wrote: ”I read somewhere that Lopari must vanish from the face of the earth because no one will ever sing songs about their miserable life. I have met them. These people “forgotten by the world” laugh with innocent laughter of a child!”. May be the modern world should take the out most care of the Sami, in case people of the world will forget how to laugh then Sami will teach them how to do it.
|Selkoop Indigenous People|
|Traditionally the Selkoop live on the territory between rivers Ob and Enisey in the Western Siberia. There are 2 major groups of Selkoop. One is called the Southern or Obskaia group and lives in Tomsk region alongside the rivers Ob, Tym, Vasiugan, Ket and Parabel. The other group is called the Northern or Tazovsko-Turukhanskaia and lives in Tiumen and Krasnoiarsk regions on the Enisey river.|
On those territories Selkoop live in communities with Russians, Khanty, Evenk, Keto and Nenetz. Until recently, Selkoop people lived in isolated family clans and never were united either through territory or politically. Now there is a strong motion towards political unity of Selkoop through their association which is a collective member of RAIPON (Association of Indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of Russian Federation).
The Selkoop language is close as to the Finno-Ugric as to the Samoed groups. But there are many unanswered questions about the language, history and culture of Selkoop. The tragedy is that Selkoop are close to the complete extinction and the answers to all those question will go to the oblivion together with the people.
On the individual level many of our people do not think about those matters trying to survive. Not many young Selkoop know the lives of their forefathers. That is not our fault only. But to keep our people alive is only our responsibility.
|Meeting of Interns at the Federal Ministry of Health of Russian Federation|
|At the meeting, Mr. Sergey V. Fisenko, Deputy Head of the Division on the Population Health Care, gave a lot of information on the situation with the Health care of the Northern regions. The following are some major points:|
Beginning the 1991 the population of Russian federation is decreasing. Compare to 1987 the birth rate to date is 8.7 people per 1000 as oppose to 16 people. The death rate is on the rise. It is 14.7 people per 1000, compare to 5 in Japan, 6.7 in Scandinavia and 9 people in the USA. The total population is dropping by 600-800 people annually. At this rate by the 2007 the population will be only 123 million people.
The Indigenous people in Russia are even worse. Compare to 1990 the birth rate dropped by 34% and the death rate increased by 42%. The tuberculosis is ravaging almost 80% of Indigenous people.
The ministry appeal to the Government of Russian Federation for 13 million USD to by the necessary equipment and medication for the regions of the North. But the Federal Ministry of Finance blocked the project.
It looks like the next step is for the Government and the President. They must show whether they do really care for the health of the people of our country.
|Who Must Answer?|
|Phenol pollution of Amur river is a major problem not only for Indigenous people but for all living at and by the river.|
We live in unusually difficult times. We, indigenous people, very often have only fish to eat. And although there are plenty of stuff in stores we have no money to buy it. And the only food that keeps our families from dying - is poisoned.
For me and my daughter, as well as for many others in our village, it is not a probability anymore, it is the reality. Many suffer from terrible allergies, head-aches and skin-rushes. And we believe it is just the tip of the iceberg. We have no money even to travel to the district center to get medical testing and to buy medicine. Children have difficulties to study. It is impossible in one short letter to describe all our problems connected to phenol.
Can anybody tell us how to live when we need to eat fish, to drink water and live in our ancient communities by the Amur river? Who must answer for that?
Olga P. Tubina, Ultchi