In the Spring of 2008, the Arctic Council SDWG EALAT Information project held a workshop in collaboration with reindeer herders of Brigade 4 near the village of Kanchalan, in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. The photographs below are all taken during the tundra segment of this workshop. You can read more about EALAT Information here. All photos unless otherwise stated are by Alexander Kutskiy. Chukotka is a large region covering 737,000 km2 in Russia’s Far East. It borders the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) to the West, the Magadan Oblast to the South and the Bering Sea on its Eastern coast. Unconnected to the transportation infrastructure of Russia, for outsiders, it has long been synonymous with remoteness. Chukotka is mostly situated north of the tree line and much of the region is characterized by grasses and lichens, only occasionally interspersed with patches of brush. The interior resembles a Sub-Arctic continental climate with fewer storms and less humidity than on the coast, but there are much colder winter temperatures, down to -50 oC.
Further North and East the Chukchi Peninsula is surrounded by ocean on three sides. This gives milder temperatures but unpredictable weather conditions, making it one of the most extreme areas for reindeer husbandry in Russia.The region fell into severe turmoil after the fall of the Soviet Union, which saw a rapid decrease in population as Russian and other settlers left Chukotka due to the economic crisis. Currently, approximately 58,000 people live in Chukotka, down from a peak of 150,000 during the Soviet era. It has been estimated that up to 20% of the regions inhabitants are indigenous people, of whom Chukchi are by far the most numerous. Reindeer husbandry in Chukotka is one of the primary subsistence livelihoods for indigenous people, mainly Chukchi but also Even, Koryak, Yukagir and Chuvan peoples. It is possible to talk of two types of reindeer husbandry in Chukotka – tundra and taiga. Tundra reindeer husbandry, characterized by long migrations between winter (interior) and summer (coastal)pastures