China

Visit to Evenki herders in China – A Sámi Herders Perspective

June 11, 2018 • Philip Burgess

Issát Turi is a Sámi reindeer herder, one of the authors of the award winning EALLU book and has been working with and for the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry for many years. He also accompanied Anders Oskal, Mikhail Pogodaev, Inger Anita Smuk, Juoksa Smuk and Elen Sara Sparrok after the Gourmand Awards to Inner Mongolia, to the Evenki village of Alouguya, China as the ICR-WRH team visited with Evenki herders. Below is a brief summary of a conversation with him now that the ICR / WRH team are back in Sápmi.  

Of course reindeer herding on the tundra and the taiga are very different things. For the Evenki, their economy is totally different. We depend on meat production, whereas Evenki in China use the herds to produce medicinal products from antlers and there is some small milk production. There’s a big market for these products in the Far East. They have challenges to recruit young herders of course, as many of the herds are quite remote and are in tough places to live. Their herds are now inside a recently created national park and this has brought new challenges. Local Evenki are no longer allowed to hunt inside the borders of the Park and hunting is a big part of their livelihoods. The rules of the National Park have also meant that herders are not allowed to carry any weapon, even a bow and arrow, to protect their reindeer from predators. Bears are especially numerous in the park and are taking  a lot of the reindeer calfs. Herders are allowed to have a dog but herders told us that the dogs don’t help so much. 

See a new photo gallery from the ICR / WRH team visit to Alouguya below

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ICR/WRH Visit Evenki Reindeer Herders in Aoluguya, China. See Photo Gallery

June 4, 2018 • Philip Burgess

After the stunning victory of overall  ‘Best in the World’ Foodbook for the EALLU food book, a smaller delegation from the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) and the Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) made their way north to the town of Genhe, then to the village of Aolouguya to meet once more with their Evenki herding compatriots. The ICR/WRH delegation consisted of Anders Oskal, Mikhail Pogodaev, Inger Anita Smuk, Issat Turi, Ellen Sara Sparrok and Juoksa Smuk. 

WRH attended meetings and a welcome dinner with the Mayor of Genhe, Zhaomin Hu. Genhe is a sizeable city  in the far northeast of Inner Mongolia, and is the only region with reindeer husbandry which is centred on the Evenki reindeer herding village of Aoluguya. Genhe and Alouguya was the location of the 5th World Reindeer Herding Congress

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Why EALLU Won – Gourmand Founder & President Edouard Cointreau

May 31, 2018 • Philip Burgess

Mr E. Cointreau, founder of the Gourmand Awards, samples traditional foods in the EALLU tent.

As noted previously, the EALLU food book was awarded the prestigious grand prize at the 23rd Gourmand food book awards held in China, last weekend. The founder of the Awards is a Mr Eduard Cointreau and he had the following things to say about the EALLU book:

EALLU is the first book ever, presenting an overview of the food cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Arctis, says Edouard Cointreau, president and founder of the Gourmand Awards. A unique book that, unlike many others, can really change the life of indigenous families, their nomadic communities and villages. In an exceptional and impressive way the authors, who are all arctic indigenous youth, has managed to create a book that share the way of life and the food culture of places that has been known by very few people on the planet. The importance of their work and the beautiful EALLU book has no comparison. The way these youth professionally and respectfully shared their food, the arctic culture and their insights on sustainability at the Gourmand Awards on may 26, caught the immediate attention of chefs, authors, writers, journalists and photographers from more than 60 countries.

See a new photo gallery the event below

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EALLU Wins Grand Prize and Arctic Prize at Gourmand Awards

May 28, 2018 • Philip Burgess

EALLU: Best in the World!

The Gourmand food book awards have now wrapped up in the coastal city of Yantai, China and the EALLU team are now heading home. It has been an extraordinarily successful trip, with the EALLU Food book picking up both the Grand Prize as ‘Best Foodbook in the World’ and best in the Arctic food culture category. This is an extremely important vote of confidence in the large team of young authors who contributed to this unique food book over the life of the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group project.

To receive such an award from the mainstream food publishing industry is a powerful recognition of the richness and depth of a focal point of our cultures, our relationship to food. This is much more than just a book of recipes”, says Chair Mikhail Pogodaev of Association of World Reindeer Herders.

“We are incredibly proud of this achievement and our fantastic team of indigenous youth from across the Arctic who bridged generations and distances to create this extraordinary book. Maybe this signals a shift in how mainstream society values our food knowledge and that our societies can leverage this recognition to better community physical, mental and economic health. Arctic indigenous peoples have an absolutely unique understanding of the Arctic environment, their ecosystems, and our living food resources,” says Anders Oskal,the EALLU project leader and Secretary General of the Association of World Reindeer Herders. 

Read the official press release here and below see a gallery of photos

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Arctic Indigenous Youth Write Best Cookbook in the World!

May 26, 2018 • Philip Burgess

EALLU wins Gourmand prizeIndigenous reindeer herding youth win ‘Best in the World’ at 23rd Gourmand International Cookbook Award

An international group of young indigenous peoples, with their food book entitled: “EALLU –Food, Knowledge and How We Have Thrived on the Margins” has won the overall Gourmand International Cookbook Award.  The winners were announced today at the “Oscars of the cookbook world”  in Yantai, China. In this unique and now acclaimed food book, a team of 50 young indigenous authors presented 14 different Arctic indigenous peoples´ food cultures in one volume, the first of its kind. There were hundreds of entries from entries from across the world, the EALLU food book faced stiff competition (´eallu´means a herd (of reindeer) in the indigenous Sámi language, closely connected to the word ´eallin´ which means life), and was nominated in as many as 4 categories as well as the main prize itself –Best Food Book of the World, across all categoriesThe book was 1 of 16 nominees for the main prize, selected from contributions from 116 National States and was a delivery from the Arctic CouncilSustainable Development Working Group project EALLU.

To receive such an award from the mainstream food publishing industry is a powerful recognition of the richness and depth of a focal point of our cultures, our relationship to food. This is much more than just a book of recipes”, says Chair Mikhail Pogodaev of Association of World Reindeer Herders: “This is about Arctic indigenous peoples´ deep knowledge about food, raw materials, processing and conservation, food security, health and wellbeing – It’s about our food traditions, our traditional nomadic lifestyles, our local economies, our philosophy and our worldviews.

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EALLU Team in China for Gourmand Award Ceremony

May 24, 2018 • Philip Burgess

A team from the EALLU project has touched down in the coastal city of Yantai, China to attend the awards ceremony of the 23rd Gourmand International Cookbook Awards (the “Oscars of the cookbook world”) which are being held May 26-27.  Authors from all over the globe will compete for the prestigious awarding of the World´s best cookbooks and the EALLU book has been nominated for the best in all categories and also in three separate categories. 

Present in Yantai are ICR Director Anders Oskal and a group of indigenous youth including many authors. On Friday, May 25, the EALLU team, which have brought with them reindeer blood, smoked meat and a large lavvu will host attendees and tell about the book, the story behind the project and the importance of traditional foods to indigenous peoples. Also, the Gourmand Awards are the setting for the launch of the 2nd edition of the EALLU book, with a redesigned cover and new content. The EALLU team has representation from Sápmi, Russia and China. From Sápmi: Anders Oskal, Issát Turi, Inger Anita Smuk, Juoksa Smuk, Ellen-Sara Sparrok. From Russia: Mikail Pogodaev, Alena Gerasimova, Marta Okotetto, Anna Chuprina and from Aoluguya/Genhe; 4 persons. See some photos below

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EALLU Foodbook Nominated as Best in the World

May 21, 2018 • Philip Burgess

Have Indigenous Youth Made the Best Cookbook in the World?

 

Indigenous reindeer herding youth initiative nominated for 22nd Gourmand International Cookbook Awards 2018

 

The 22nd Gourmand International Cookbook Awards (the “Oscars of the cookbook world”) is being held May 26-27 in Yantai, China where authors from all over the globe will compete for the prestigious awarding of the World´s best cookbooks.

 

An international group young indigenous people and others are among the top nominees, with their food book entitled: “EALLU –Food, Knowledge and How We Have Thrived on the Margins”. The term ´eallu´ means a herd (of reindeer) in the indigenous Sámi language, closely connected to the word ´eallin´, which means life.

 

In this unique and acclaimed food book, a team of 50 young indigenous authors present 14 different Arctic indigenous peoples´ food cultures in one volume, the first of its kind. The book has been nominated in as many as 4 categories at the Gourmand Awards: Food Heritage, Sustainable Food, Arctic Food, and the main prize itself – Best Food Book of the World, across all categories. The book is 1 of 16 nominees for the main prize, selected from contributions from 116 countries.

 

This is much more than just a book of recipes”, says Chair Mikhail Pogodaev of Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH): “This is about Arctic indigenous peoples´ deep knowledge about food, raw materials, processing and conservation, food security, health and wellbeing – Its about our food traditions, our traditional nomadic lifestyles, our local economies, our philosophy and our worldviews.”

 

Read the full press release belowEALLU Press Release Gourmand Nomination

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Shanghai Daily Report on China’s Reindeer Herders

October 9, 2014 • Philip Burgess

Evenki Herder in China

There are not many stories out of China that are about the Evenki reindeer herders that are still practising reindeer husbandry in the North East of the country. The Shanghai Daily has just carried a story on the reindeer herders of China, who number in the tens.

HOHHOT, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — Soon, tribesman Gu Wenqiang will have to bid farewell to his herd of deer, leaving his small shack tucked away in the lush green forests of the Greater Khingan Range.

After more than a month of tending the herd of reindeer, the 36 year old will soon drive from his temporary shelter and return to his hometown of Aoluguya Ewenki located 50 km away. It’s an occurance that’s happening more frequently these days.

 

For Gu and others from the Aoluguya Ewenki tribe, dubbed “the last hunting tribe of China,” such trips have become routine following the tribe’s relocation to a township near Genhe City, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, from the mountain forests eleven years ago. For a decade, nomadic life has been the only choice to keep their ancient culture alive.

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China Daily Posts Extensive Article on Evenki Reindeer Herders of Aoluguya

October 21, 2013 • Philip Burgess

Maria SuoChina Daily, the widest print circulation of any English-language newspaper in the China (over 500,000 copies per issue, of which a third are abroad) has just published an extensive article on the Evenki herders of Aoluguya, near Genhe, in Inner Mongolia. The article features m,any of the same people who were active participants and attendees at this years 5th World Reindeer Herders Congress which was held on their territory for the first time. The article outlines the struggles this reindeer people have faced since their relocation from the forests closer to the city of Genhe and the loss of their rifles. The Congress is mentioned in the article as is the Aoluguya Declaration. With only 20 families remaining to live with their reindeer, the future for the livelihood is painted as being rather bleak in this article.

You can read the article below, or on the China Daily website here.

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Reindeer Husbandry Brochure in Chinese

August 27, 2013 • Philip Burgess

Reindeer Brochure in Chinese ScreenshotThe 5th World Reindeer Herders’ Congress was held in China this summer (see 5 WRHC.org). This was the first time that the event, which is held every four years, was held in China. As part of the materials created specifically for the Congress, the brochure developed by the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry was translated and printed in Chinese, the first time ICR materials have been translated into this language. The brochure was handed out to all the attendees at the Congress.

You can read and download it below.

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ICR Director Oskal Interviewed by Chinese News Agency at Arctic Council Ministerial

May 15, 2013 • Philip Burgess

Arctic Council Ministerial Kiruna 2013

Representatives of the indigenous Saami people told Xinhua on Tuesday that they were actively adapting, with “the best knowledge available”, to challenges posed by the changing environment in the Arctic region.

According to the Saami delegation participating the Arctic Council Working Group presentations here in Kiruna, the northernmost Swedish city within the Arctic circle, they were trying to learn the best knowledge and to cope with the challenges, particularly the changing situations for reindeer herding, typical means of the group’s livelihood.

“There were needs, of course, minerals, copper and perhaps cellphones, but one thing we can say for certain is that, the world that people also need food (reindeer products)”, said Anders Oskal, a Norwegian Saami, also director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, voicing awareness been raised to the livelihood of his people just before the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council.

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World Reindeer Herders Congress in July – Revisit the Congress in Yakutsk, 2005

February 26, 2013 • Philip Burgess

The World Reindeer Herders Congress is going to be held in Genhe/Alougoya in July of this year, the first time that it will be held in China, home to a small number of Evenki herders. The Congress is held every four years and in 2009 was in Kautokeino, Norway. The Congress is a unique cultural and political event that brings together reindeer herders, scientists, politicians and more together.  The Congress generally has an academic programme, a political programme and of course multiple cultural events. Details on the 5th Congress will be posted here as they become available. See a clip from the Yakutsk Congress below,

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Traditions fade as China settles nomads in towns – Reindeer Herders in China Featured in AP

October 6, 2009 • Philip Burgess
By HENRY SANDERSON (AP) – 2 days ago
GENHE CITY, China — Herding reindeer and hunting bears and boars in the forests on Siberia’s fringe was Gu Gejun’s life. Now his rifle has been confiscated, and the only reindeer he herds are in an urban tourist park.
China has moved most of the small Ewenki ethnic group from the steppe to the city, giving its members better access to medical services, education and jobs but, inevitably, changing their traditions.
They are among more than 700,000 nomadic herders — mostly Tibetans, Mongols and Kazaks in western China — the government has resettled since 2000.
About 60 Ewenki families live here in a Finnish-designed gated community of spacious sloped-roof wooden homes in orderly rows. They have televisions and washing machines. Across the street a teepee-like tent houses an exhibit on how the Ewenki used to live. Nearby, a dozen reindeer graze in a cleared patch of forest, watched over by Gu, a 37-year-old man with the chiseled looks of a movie star.
“Our lifestyle has been affected, because we Ewenki are born hunters,” he said. “From older generations to younger generations we used to live on hunting. It’s in our blood.”
Gu had to turn over his semiautomatic rifle when he was resettled six years ago. He still remembers the model number engraved on it — 62684 — though he cannot remember the one on his government ID card. “When we go into the mountains and talk about guns we just cry,” he said.
The government says resettlement raises living standards and protects the grasslands from overgrazing and desertification. Many living near international borders have been moved for security, as Beijing worries about sabotage, smuggling and illegal border crossing.
The Ewenki (pronounced ehr-when-key) roamed for centuries around southern Siberia in Russia. About 300 years ago, in search of better hunting grounds, some crossed the Greater Hinggan Mountains into China. Today, about 64,000 remain, half in China.
Reindeer were at the center of Ewenki life, providing milk and transport, and they were revered, said An Tabu, 66, as she looked from her house to a newly paved road where kids practiced skateboarding.
Under the resettlement program, An Tabu and 242 others from the Aoluguya branch of the Ewenki moved 200 miles (300 kilometers) to Genhe, a small city of lumber mills and white-tiled buildings, in 2003. The Aoluguya are the last of three groups of Ewenki to be settled.
They brought 700 reindeer, but the herd could not find enough to eat and some died, residents said. Around 30 Ewenki returned to the birch-and-pine-forested mountains, taking the reindeer.
“It’s not good here,” An Tabu said. “We can’t hunt anymore, like I did when I was younger.”
Moving to Genhe has given them a chance to thrive in the mainstream of China’s booming economy. The price has been the loss of tradition and language, as younger Ewenki learn Chinese to compete.
“After being resettled, their living conditions were improved, but their way of life changed,” said Yu Zhixue, an artist who first visited the Ewenki in the 1950s, living in their mountain camps and drinking reindeer milk instead of water. “The fact that they gave their guns to the government was a symbol for the end of an era. Many of the younger generation of the Ewenki now would rather play with computers than go into the mountains and hunt.”
Suo Ronghua lived in the mountains until she was seven and sent to school in Mangui. She married a man from China’s Han majority whom she met in 1999 at the city’s college.
Now 33 and a mother of two, Suo said city life suits her. Her 10-year-old daughter gets taken to school where classes are in Mandarin. She does regret the girl cannot speak Ewenki.
“We are not many people, so many people have married Han Chinese,” said Suo, lifting her young baby up and down in the bright airy living room. “It is unfortunate because Ewenki people should protect their traditions.”
Their reindeer were collectivized in the early years of communist rule, and their shamanic belief system was outlawed during the radical Cultural Revolution. They have seen their traditional hunting grounds shrink, first as they were moved away from the border during China-Soviet Union tensions and then by logging and poaching by Chinese, who hunted their reindeer for its antlers and penis for Chinese medicine.
By the time resettlement began for the first Ewenki in the 1990s, many were dispirited. Alcoholism rates were high, and assimilation already under way. The government began giving Ewenki welfare payments in the 1980s, and they still get a 400 yuan ($60) subsidy each month. In Genhe, around half have found jobs running small tourism businesses, residents said, and others left to look for work on construction sites.
Dular Osor Chaoke, an Ewenki at the government-backed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, favors integrating with the mainstream and adapting traditions to modern life. The linguist is developing a Roman alphabet for the language and a software program for its use on computers and mobile phones.
“We have to use modernized and high-tech methods to preserve our ethnic languages and ethnic cultures,” Dular said, taking out his mobile phone and sending an Ewenki text message to a friend in Inner Mongolia as a demonstration. “This is the only way.”
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

By HENRY SANDERSON (AP) – GENHE CITY, China — Herding reindeer and hunting bears and boars in the forests on Siberia’s fringe was Gu Gejun’s life. Now his rifle has been confiscated, and the only reindeer he herds are in an urban tourist park.

China has moved most of the small Ewenki ethnic group from the steppe to the city, giving its members better access to medical services, education and jobs but, inevitably, changing their traditions.

They are among more than 700,000 nomadic herders — mostly Tibetans, Mongols and Kazaks in western China — the government has resettled since 2000.

About 60 Ewenki families live here in a Finnish-designed gated community of spacious sloped-roof wooden homes in orderly rows. They have televisions and washing machines. Across the street a teepee-like tent houses an exhibit on how the Ewenki used to live. Nearby, a dozen reindeer graze in a cleared patch of forest, watched over by Gu, a 37-year-old man with the chiseled looks of a movie star.

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