Survival International: Siberian tribes

March 28, 2008 at 12:11 am | Posted in Naming | 4 Comments
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I started a series of posts linking the information offered by Survival International. This week, I am continuing with Siberia tribes. When I was a child, I heard of Siberia because it was an inhospitable place where people was deported. Even that, its name attracted me. Last year I found an illustrated journal about it, and it surprised me. I think that despite its harshness it is a place worthy of discovering.

Siberian Tribes

Siberia’s 30 different tribal peoples range in number from under 200 (the Oroks) to 34,000 (the Nenet). They live in an area that covers 58% of Russia.

How do they live? Some of these peoples are nomadic reindeer herders, living in the tundra (arctic plain); others, who live in the forest tundra or taiga (coniferous forest), rely on a mixture of reindeer herding and hunting and gathering, and often live in settlements. Today 10% of Siberia’s tribal peoples live a nomadic or semi nomadic life, compared to 70% just 30 years ago. The languages the different tribes speak are from a range of linguistic families: some bear no similarity to any other language, and none bear any relation to Russian. Some larger indigenous peoples, the Sakha (formerly called Yakuts) and Komi, have their own republics within the Russian state.


What problems do they face?
Under the Soviet administration, the tribal peoples lost their land to state-run industries. With industrialisation, their region was taken over by outsiders, and the authorities made strong efforts to suppress indigenous languages, culture and ways of life. Today their biggest problems are the environmental degradation caused by the oil, gas and logging industries in the area, and the lack of clarity about land rights.

How does Survival help?
Survival supports Russian indigenous organisations such as the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), backing their demands that indigenous peoples are consulted about industrial projects and given the right of veto, and given compensation where their land has already been destroyed. We also support the call for Russia to ratify International Labour Organisation Convention 169 on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, and specifically for tribal land ownership rights to be recognised.

It is been quite surprising for me to find out how minority tribal rights and environment is binded. How in Siberia, Scandinavia or Labrador they are thrown out of its own lands because they are considered mere power sources.

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