are only 622 Negidal are left in the world. All of them live in the Khabarovsk
region. There are two distinct dialects in Negidal language - the Upper
dialect (it is influenced by the Ultchi, Orotchi and Nanai languages) and
the Lower dialect influenced by the Evenk language. Negidal traditional
religion is shamanism.
Traditionally Negidal are hunters and fishermen. The Upper Negidal also kept reindeers, but only as a transport. The reindeer was the main difference in the way of life between the upper and the lower Negidal. Both group lived in settlements. The main staple of their diet was fish, especially salmon. Fish skin was used to make clothes, shoes and other necessary things. Everything was highly and intricately ornamented.
At the end of the 19th century Negidal begin to eat potatoes introduced by Russians. With time Negidal begin to grow potatoes in their small gardens.
Presently Negidal live with the same problems as all Indigenous peoples of Russia. Only it hurts to think that soon there might be no Negidal left, their culture and language vanish forever. It is a dream to have in every Negidal community such people that would do everything to preserve and revive our culture, pass it on to our children before it too late. It is a dream, but it is a possible dream.
Yulia Dekalí, Negidal