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.

Irina Shafranik,
Selkoop, IIC

Photo by A. Golovnev