Who are the Even and when did they come to Kamchatka? The first records by Cossack Vladimir Atlasov and by the Krasheninnikov-Steler expedition (XVIII century) nothing is mentioned about the Even people. There is nothing about them in the official taxation roster of the indigenous peoples of Kamchatka from that century.

We must note that by the XVIIIth century the Russian Siberian officials had enough knowledge on the indigenous peoples of Siberia to differentiate the Lamut (Even) people from their neighbors Koriak, Yukagir and Yakut. Thus, if there is no record of Even in Kamchatka that means there were none in XVIII century.

The first mention of Even in Kamchatka is dated to the middle of XIX century. Kamchatka explorer K. Ditmar writes in his diary: ”On March 2, 1852 the most unusual guests came to Petropavlovsk. For the first time ever here came Lamut. Four men came to the office of Kamchatka Governor Vasily Zvoiko to ask where they could sell their hunting trophies for a better price. The Lamut is an indigenous people that lives a nomadic life on the Western shore of Okhotsk sea between Aian and Izhigin. Forced to enlarge their territory many of their clans fought their way through the Pengin Koriaks to the unpopulated parts of Kamchatka. There they found huge grazing grounds for their reindeers, rivers rich with fish and plenty of prey to hunt. Many other followed. In the beginning Lamut tried to minimize contacts with local people and settlements. They feared they will be forced to leave as intruders. Gradually they realized that neither other indigenous peoples nor the official administration of Kamchatka is having any intention to persecute them. They stopped to fear and start coming to various settlements and finally began to pay taxes by the request of the local authorities.”

The author speculates that the main reason for the Lamut to move could be the famine that raged in 1830-40 around Kolyma and Indigirka rivers.

Most of Kamchatka Even belong to Dolgan and Uiagan clans and only a very small part to Delian clan. Most of the Even on the North West shore of Okhotsk sea belong to Dolgan and Uiagan clans and those on Kolyma – to Uiagan and Delian clans.

Up to very recently the Kamchatka Even strictly obeyed the exogamy law – men from one clan married only women from other clans. At the present the Kamchatka Even live mainly in Pengin and Bystrinsky districts of Kamchatka.

Lilia Banakanova,
Even, Kamchatka

Photo by P. Slugin