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Indigenous Culture

Eastern Chukotka Nomadic Reindeer Herders

Reindeer herder leading reindeer pulling sledges

There have been living since ancient times in Chukota tundra, grazing their reindeer and nomadising with yaranga the Cukchi reindeer herders naming themselves as chauchu.

Anyone who sees the reindeer herders lifestyle for the first time asks, why are the nomads’ life so hard? The roaming with reindeer herds is traditional and hard, isn’t it?

Isn’t a new and different lifestyle possible?

Reindeer herders were encouraged to a new way under Soviet powers. They forgot their independence and welfare.

That is why when the Soviet power had crashed, the reindeer herders came into the bad times.

Even the new Russia had ceased to help the reindeer herders.

The life of reindeer herders without subsidiies have become hard. The 500,000 reindeer herds had remainded less than 100,000. Over 220 nomad camps had declined to 65.

Mostly those have survived who had not abandoned their yaranga and have used the reindeer sledges for transportation.

It is clear that the reindeer herders were forced to live by the old lifestyle. It is the only way to survive when you do not have the modern resources.

The old, traditional ways were the way to survive in the long term and this film shows that.

Despite the difficulties, the reindeer herders have always tried to keep their land, pasture and ecology.

It was amazing hoe the reindeer herders could adapt. It was possible to survive only by this way in the difficult conditions for centuries.

Even when someone says “we want to improve your life”, the current crisis of Chukotkan reindeer herding is the result of half assed actions of the state at the end of the 20th Century.

The reindeer herders of this film have tried to establish their life themselves. It is difficult and they may not be successful with outside help.

This film was created with support of Chukotka Association of Indigenous Peoples and Noncommercial partnership “The Commonwealth of Indigenous Peoples’ Communities of the Russian North, Siberia and Far East”.

1 Comment

  1. Hello and welcome to my blog . I’m Alanis Patton.
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