Reindeer herders in Yakutia talk about the Law “On Nomadic Family”

June 2, 2014 • Alena GerasimovaChallenges, Projects, Reindeer Herders
maria pogodaeva (c) YASIA

Maria Pogodaeva. Photo by YASIA

The draft law “On Nomadic Family” was adopted in the first reading on April 14, 2010. Now, four years have passed. In June this year, the Standing Committee on Arctic Indigenous Peoples of the State Assembly (Il Tumen) of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) will introduce a revised draft for the second reading. The Working Group of this project included scientists, representatives of public indigenous organizations, ministries and departments.

The member of the Working Group on the legislative proposal of the project “Nomadic Family”, Honored Worker of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, member of Indigenous Council under the President of Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Maria Pogodaeva, noted that from the ancient times the whole families of reindeer herder have bee living in tundra and taiga, there was no unmarried man or woman. Older generation was much respected, family relationships have always been harmonious, marriages were stable, and the role of women was highly appreciated.All of this was ruined during the Soviet period, when one position of a woman/tent-worker (or chumrabotnitsa ) was set within brigade of reindeer herders. Human rights and education of children in family were violated, reindeer herders’ families were destroyed. For years men have been working in tundra or taiga, while their women with children were living in villages, losing their life skills in nomadic conditions. This is what happened last winter – because of the absence of winter cabin and lack of traditional knowledge, young family of reindeer herders with little child froze to death during snowstorm in tundra in Nizhnekolymsky region.

In recent years, young people don’t want to go in reindeer husbandry – the reason is small salary and lack of normal conditions for living. They don’t work in reindeer herding even though there is no jobs in the villages as well. Therefore, there is an acute shortage of herders and this trend will only grow – we can lose reindeer husbandry in 5-10 years, and it is cannot be recovered.

For reunification of reindeer herders’ families and creating of proper living conditions the Law “On Nomadic Family” must be adopted. The draft law “On Nomadic Family” establishes the legal, economic, social and cultural basis for conservation and support of the unique institution of indigenous peoples of the North – the nomadic family. Reindeer herding family is the foundation for reindeer husbandry, which has been the part of traditional lifestyle and indigenous culture for many centuries, and it is a source of spiritual strength and creativity of these peoples.


The whole interview you can find here

Source: the official web-page of the State Assembly (Il Tumen) of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia)

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