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    Chukchi Autonomous Area (Chukotka)

Chukchi Autonomous Region is the most northeasterly region of Russia, and the only region of Russia lying partially in the western geographical hemisphere. Chukotka is often lumped in with the vast region known as Siberia, especially when discussing the history or ethnography of the region. However, if you were standing in Chukotka and having a conversation with a local and you said you really liked it "here in Siberia," they would find it weird, because to them, Siberia is a place located further to the west.

Traditionally the home of the native Chukchi people, Siberian Yupics, Koryaks, Chuvans, Evens, Yukagirs, and Russian Old Settlers, the region was subject to collectivization and forced settlement during the Soviet era.

The Chukchi people living in tundra refer to themselves as the Chavchu or deer-breeders, while those living by the sea, the Ankalyn, coast-dwellers. Their language Luoravetlanish, or Chukchee belongs to the Chukot-Kamchat group of Paleo-Asian languages and has five dialects. According to national census of 1970, about 11 000 people spoke the Chukchi, but this number is reducing every year. Since the Soviet times, Russian became the language of communication not only between the Russians and other nationalities living there, but also between native people themselves. However, the situation is gradually changing for the better. The Chukchi language is studied in many schools and the number of such schools is growing. There are newspapers, books published in Chukchi; more and more often the language can be heard on the local radio and TV.

Religious concepts of the Chukchee are based on the fundamental model of the universe, common for all Paleo-Asiatic peoples. It provides for the division into the upper, the middle and the lower worlds. The upper and the middle worlds, in their turn, are divided into five, seven or nine worlds. At the same time there is a concept envisaging an indefinite multitude of the worlds; the living creatures of a particular world die upon transition to another world. Various parts of the sky are inhabited with dead people of various categories.

Celebrations and rituals play a significant role in the life and culture of the aboriginal population of Chukotka. Most of them build a year cycle connected with hunting and harvesting of Chukotka aboriginal people. Those are Thanksgiving Ritual, Celebration of the Fawn, Celebration of the First Fawn, Celebration of the Whale, Fisherman's day.

People living in Chukotka always considered good physical training extremely necessary and gave much attention to various sport competitions. Not a single feast would do without racing, wrestling, shooting or ball games. And not only men, but also women and children participate. Chukot-Eskimo canoes regattas and deer-ledge race are very popular among reindeer-breeders and sea-hunters.

Rebirth of traditional sports is happening alongside with restoration and development of such traditional for Chukotka crafts, as sea hunting, reindeer-herding, fishery and hunting. Children Sport Schools open sections of traditional sports, national wrestling and husky-dog breeding.

Internet sites used for the article:

www.faculty.uaf.edu

www.chukotka.org

www.wikipedia.org

Tags: Russian tourism Russian regions Chukotka Russian history  


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