||Archeological evidence shows that people have
been living on southern Kamchatka as long as
most indigenous people anywhere else, that is for some thousand
In newer times, about the end of the 17th century, Itelmens
and Ainu *) lived in the
For an economy based on hunting and gathering, Kamchatka was
rather densely inhabited.
Small communities dotted the coasts and river valleys; many
of them were not more than a
day's walk from one another.
The Ainu, an isolated group of unknown origin, inhabited Southern
the Kuril Islands, and probably
When at the beginning of the 18th century, the inhabitants were
forced to pay a fur tribute
(yasak), violent uprisings were the result. Within just
two or three decades the indigenous
population decreased significantly and settlements became scattered.
In fact, the population decreased so dramatically that the volume
of yasak fall so drastically, that the government
had to reajust their tribute policy.
Now the population of the Itelmen stabilized at about 1,500
- 2,000 people.
But as time went by, at the beginning of the 20th century, Itelmens
and Ainu had been
assimilated into the Russian population, not only through mixed
marriages but also through
mutual exchange in social sphere, particularly in economic activities.
Mobility among all people in Russia led to great ethnic heterogeneity.
Kamchatka is home to
many different minorieties, including people identifying themselves
as 'indigenous peoples of the
Russian North,' but only Itelmens, Aleuts, Koryaks
and Evens are considered indigenous to
what is now Kamchatka Oblast.
Aleuts from the Aleutian Islands were resettled to the
Commander Islands, to expand the Russian fur trade. Today, about
275 Aleuts people live
in the only settlement on the Commander Islands, Nikolskoe on
In the first half on the nineteenth century, Evens from the
Okhotsk region migrated to the
Bystraya River basin, where they now continue to fish, hunt
and herd reindeer. Most of them
live in the villages of Anavgai and Esso in the Bystrinsky Raion,
but they comprise only 30
percent of the total population.. In 1980 those Evens counted
about 800 in this province.
Above text is excerpts from the book'East
of the Sun' by Benson Bobrick, Aleuts by Robert Moisseev.
Nomads of Kamchatka have beautiful features. The Even
people have a Mongolian
origin distinguished by their marvellous almond shaped
Right: Portrait of a middle aged Even man. Nomad's skin
is very damaged
by the severe weather conditions in which these people
by © Daisy
Gilardini - Courtesy
The Evens and Evenky (tunguses*)
are similar by culture. The Evens ancestors having come
to Kamchatka changed their traditional occupation hunting for
reindeer breeding. Russians
arriving to Kamchatka called the Evens roaming from place to
place along the Okhotsk seaside
"lamuts", it means "living by the sea".
Herdsmen they called "orochi", it means "reindeer
Beside reindeer breeding and hunting the coastal Evens caught
fish and hunted marine animals.
For fishing they made different kinds of dams and traps. Blacksmith's
work was very popular
with the Evens.
*) Tungus people (Evenki)
A people of Mongolian origin,
now living in great part of Siberia, from Okhotsk Sea in the
East to river Ob in the west,
but probably not more than about 20.000 left.
Their main-occupation is fur-hunting
and reindeer. Some of them in the South are farmers.
The Koryaks are the main population of the northern Kamchatka
part. They have their own
autonomy - the Koryaksky Region. The name of this people as
Krasheninnikov and Steller
thought originated from "khora" - "deer".
But Koryaks don't call themselves with this word.
The coastal residents call themselves as "nimilany"
(nymylan) - "residents of a settled village".
Nomads herding deer called themselves "chavchuvens",
it means "reindeer people".
For the chavchuvens reindeer breading was the main, even
the only way of living. Deer gave
them everything necessary: meat, skin for clothes (reindeer
skin for coveralls, footwear) and
for building of transportable dwellings (yarangas), bones were
used for making tools and
household articles, fat - for dwelling lightening. Deer were
a means of conveyance either.
For the Nimilans the main way to survive was fishing.
Fish was generally caught in rivers
with the help of stinging-nettle (it took about two years to
make one net and it was used only
for one year). In settled villages marine hunting was the second
way of surviving after fishing.
The Northern Koryaks' neighbours were the Chukchis, "reindeer
men" (chauchu), some of
Picture in center: © Phil Douglis
them moved to Kamchatka. As for the household the Chukchi were
like the Koryaks -
reindeer breeders. A holder of less than 100 reindeer was considered
poor and couldn't
keep a herd. The Chukchis are native Kamchatka people, now a
lot of them live here.
Like the Koryaks there were the Chukchis who lived in settled
villages and provided their
living by fishing and hunting for marine animals.
The Chukchis are perfect seamen skillfully operating boats on
a cold sea. It is well known
that their "fleet" used to trade with the Eskimoes
launching towards the American shore.
Main hunting implements were a bow and arrows, a spear and a
harpoon. A bow and a spear
were used in hunting for wild reindeer and snow sheep, a harpoon
and a lance - in marine
hunting. Arrow-, spear- and harpoon-heads were made of bone
Above text is excerpts from 'Native people
of Kamchatka' by Travel Company
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