I am a Young Reindeer Herder

September 24, 2017 • Alena GerasimovaBlog

The “Young Reindeer Herder” movement was initiated in 2015 in the Evenki village called Iengra, in Republic of Yakutia, Russia. The movement, which has an Evenki name – bi ilmakta ete’yechimni, encourages children to continue reindeer husbandry and also promotes delivering traditional knowledge from elders to youth.  One of the brightest achievements of the children’s movement is organizing  traditional children’s reindeer race, the number of participants of this competition is growing every year. The movement also attracts reindeer herding youth who study at the indigenous boarding school “Arctic” which is situated in Neryungri, Russia.

 22 – 23 of September the “Arctic” school has been celebrating the annual Bakaldin Festival (in Evenki language Bakaldin means meeting) and this year’s celebration was to honor reindeer. Indigenous students together with their teachers and guests held traditional rituals, sang songs and performed traditional round dance of northern peoples, and held other activities. Young reindeer herders from the village of Iengra and studentss of the Arctic school presented their movement “I am a young reindeer herder “, telling about their nomadic life, sharing photos and videos from reindeer herds. The Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) has also congratulated the school on the holiday, sent best wishes and expressed support for the movement “I am a young reindeer herder”. In the future WRH hopes to have events together with students and young reindeer herders from the village of Iengra and the “Arctic” school.

“Without reindeer the life for reindeer herders can not be imagined. The Evenki say: Oron achin – Evenki achin (if there is no reindeer – there is no Evenki). Today, in addition to reduced number of reindeer, the most significant problems are the lack of decent social conditions for reindeer herders and a shortage of young workers. Children of reindeer herders are brought up in boarding schools for 10-12 years, in isolation from real life, from taiga, tundra and parents, i.e. from the environment in which, it would seem, they were born. What can we offer them? Reindeer herders, parents of students are firmly convinced that the reindeer is still irreplaceable. The older generation, who linked their lives with reindeer, is almost gone and the amount of traditional knowledge stored in people’s memory is decreasing. Now it is time to conduct active work to popularize the profession of reindeer herders and reindeer husbandry. The geography of our movement “I am a young reindeer herder” is expanding, today not only children of our republic actively participate in it, Amur residents have joined us. We can say with certainty that the movement “Young Reindeer Herder” will find positive feedback from all across the vast Russia” – Anna Kolesova, reindeer herder and chumrabotnitsa from the Iengra village of Yakutia.

Children from “I am a Young Reindeer Herder” movement

Indigenous students of the Arctic school performing traditional round dance

Following traditional rituals

Young reindeer herder Anna Kolesova at the 6th World Reindeer Herders Congress in Sweden


Photos: Yuri Kokovin, Alena Gerasimova, Klavdia Makarova

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