Being a northern nomad: post-Soviet transformations in nomadic families in the Republic of Sakha, Russian Federation
Elena Khlinovskaya Rockhill
Lena Sidorova (Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Indigenous Peoples of the North East of Russia, North-Eastern Federal University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper, based on the results of research conducted in 2014-18 in N. Kolyma and Oymyakon of Yakutia, analyses changes which have taken place in nomadic families during the post-Soviet period. We examine the creative ways in which northern nomads try to save and adapt their traditional life style.
Paper long abstract:
The culture of the indigenous people of the Lower Kolyma represents an interesting example of the transformation of the traditional way of life of reindeer herders. The Soviet period changed the traditional subsistence life style of northern reindeer herders by forcing them into settlements. This process of sedentarisation led to profound changes in their way of life and family structure. In post-Soviet time indigenous activists began to articulate the return to the former traditional life style, resulting in the Law "About Nomadic Family", which was adopted in Yakutia in 2016. Nomadic schools and nomadic families began to be revived. In this paper we examine the signs of change in the nomadic family that represent this return to a "traditional" way of life. Among others, we explore what criteria were used to represent 'nomadness' (kochevnost) in annual public events such as the competition of "Nomadic families" in Oimyakon and Yakutsk in 2017 and in the Holiday of Reindeer Breeders held by indigenous authorities, which became the way of broadcasting of symbols and icons of the new "traditional" nomadic family for indigenous people.
Tilting the globe: creativity, transition and stasis in the Circumpolar North