Reindeer Herders from Norway at the Reindeer Herders Day in Iengra, Yakutia

A number of events took place as part of the celebration of the traditional Reindeer Herder’s Day in Iengra (Neryungri district, Yakutia) with participation of local residents, and also members of the International Reindeer Herding Center and Association of World Reindeer Herders.
The delegation was represented by prof. Svein Mathisen, leader of the UArctic Institute of Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry, Mikhail Pogodaev, chair of the Board of the Association of World Reindeer Herders, Inger Anita Smuk and Mikkel Anders Kemi of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry and Sámi reindeer herders from Norway, students and reindeer herding youth of the Institute of the Peoples of the North of the Herzen University – Marta Okotetto and Anna Chuprina, and also project managers of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry Svetlana Avelova and Alena Gerasimova, who arrived in Neryungri district to get to know the culture and lifestyle of the Evenki reindeer herders of South Yakutia and also identify areas for further cooperation.
International seminar “Traditional Knowledge, Biodiversity and Nutrition Culture” was held in the Iengra, which is a part of the Arctic Council EALLU project. Participants of the seminar prepared speeches on the topic of preserving traditional knowledge of reindeer herders, on the current state of the family nomadic communities, on the activities of the Association of World Reindeer Herders and other reports, and also held discussions in an informal friendly atmosphere.
The next day residents of the village of Iengra presented dishes of ethnic cuisine of the Evenks of Southern Yakutia for all participants and guests of the event at the contest “Culture of food – the basis of life of the peoples of the North”. The organizers provided participants with a workplace, a tile for preparing dishes and a set of necessary products. Such a platform allowed all participants to share experiences, demonstrating the technology of preparing national dishes. Inger Anita Smuk from Norway presented her national cuisine and showed the local residents how pancakes are prepared from the blood of a reindeer with different fillings.
The program for the guests was very rich. A few days of staying in Iengra allowed them to get acquainted with the unique culture of local residents, to communicate on general topics and to exchange experience in the issues of reindeer husbandry, way of lifestyle and conditions, caused by living in the Far North.
In Iengra there is also an ongoing project to develop reindeer herding among young people, preserve the native language, traditions and cultural heritage of the Evenki ancestors. Annually there are various contests, forums and festivals, academic competitions in the Evenki language for children and teenagers, a summer linguistic camp are organized. Traditionally, as part of the celebration of the “Reindeer Herder’s Day”, the village administration holds competitions for young reindeer herders “Ilmaktaet echinmi”. The village of Iengra is the only place not only in Russia, but also among foreign reindeer herding regions where young reindeer herders compete in reindeer races. One of the points of the delegation’s visit was visits to the rally of young reindeer herders. The guests noted that this is a good experience and an example for reindeer herders of other regions of Russia and reindeer herders of Norway, since today the acute problem is the lack of interest among young people in traditional herding activities.
The traditional festival Uktyvun – Reindeer Herder’s Day brought many impressions to the guests. On this day, reindeer racing for adult participants took place on the ice platform of the Iengra River, also national sports, the national costume contest “Ayavriv eveydit etkev” and the cultural program took place.
A visit to the Republican experimental boarding school for the indigenous children of the North “Arctic School” was held. There was a round table with the teachers and pupils of the school, the guests got acquainted with the living conditions of the “Arctic”, the students performed with creative performances. Later, a meeting was held with the first deputy governor of the Neryungri district Svetlana Pilyai. During the round table, the guests shared their impressions, noted the high organization of the meetings and emphasized the work in the tendency to preserve the traditional way of life of Evenks, promote reindeer herding among young people and preserve their native language. Chair of the Board of the Association of World Reindeer Herders Mikhail Pogodaev expressed gratitude to the Neryungrinsky district for the opportunity of cooperation, noted that the project “Youngling Reindeer Herder” is very interesting for guests from Norway, and hopefully in the near future it will become international.
Leader of the UArctic Institute for Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry and prof. of the University of Tromsø Svein Mathisen noted that practically in all reindeer herding regions of the world the issue of combating predators that attack the herds is very acute. The second common problem concerns the environment, because of the activities of industrial enterprises, the natural relief is disturbed and the pasture areas are reduced, which leads to a decrease in the number of reindeer. These and many other problems can be solved through cooperation and joint work of representatives from different reindeer herding regions around the world. Svein Mathisen thanked the head of the Neryungri district Viktor Stanilovsky and the head of the Iengra Olga Ignatenko for the warm welcome and productive work. Members of the delegation also thanked the administration of the district for the high organization of the events and the invaluable practical experience acquired during these days. At the end of the meeting, the meeting members presented memorable gifts to each other.
The next day the guests visited the camp of the nomadic family community “Nyurmagan” and got acquainted with the life and activities of taiga reindeer herders. Herders had welcomed the guests with the Evenki ritual of the guests’ meeting, fumigated with smoke and passed through chichipkan, treated with traditional dishes and sleigh on reindeer. Particular attention was paid to discussing the problems of modern reindeer husbandry, the challenges of survival in the taiga and the preservation of reindeer.
During these few days in the Neryungri district International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry and Association of World Reindeer Herders have identified the main tasks of further cooperation. In the future, cooperation will take place in the form of exchange of experience, as well as the creation of joint project and its implementation. The report on the work of the delegation in the Iengra will be presented at the level of the Arctic Council.

Sourse: SakhaNews
Photo: ICR