English translation from the official periodical of RAIPON “Мир коренных народов - живая арктика” (Indigenous Peoples’ World - Living Arctic) No. 15, 2004

Development of traditional nature use in Gornaya Shoriya

A. Arbachakov, Director, Kemerovo Regional Social Organization (KRSO) “Agency for Taiga Research and Preservation (AIST)”

The federal law “On Territories of Traditional Nature Use (TTNU) of numerically small indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation ” was adopted in May 2001. To implement the law it is envisaged that the government of the Russian Federation will approve the statute regulating the legal regime of the establishment and utilization of TTNU. Despite numerous appeals to the government of the Russian Federation by the Chambers of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, bodies of state power of subunits of the Russian Federation, and social organizations representing the interests of Northersn indigenous peoples, this statute has not been approved by the government of the Russian Federation. Thus, not only is the federal law not implemented for this reason, but also very important work has been brought to a halt in the subunits of the Russian Federation , which tried within the framework of their competence to solve this problem. For instance, laws “On the legal status of numerically small indigenous peoples in the Kemerovo Region” and “On land of traditional nature use of numerically small indigenous peoples in the Kemerovo Region” were adopted. Proposals about the establishment of a TTNU in Gornaya Shoriya and a financial allocation, and, in this connection, of a number of land-use-related works have been submitted by the administration of the Kemerovo Region to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) engaged in the GEF project “Preservation of biological diversity in the Sayan-Altai eco-region”.

Due to the gaps in the existing legislation and the lack of interest on the part of some functionaries, Shor families and communities are unable to establish a TTNU on the land to which they have historical rights. The majority of the Shors know nothing about existing laws and normative documents, or the procedure of formalizing an application to set up a TTNU. Conflict situations occur on the territory of the Shor National Park formed in December 1989. Traditional nature use in the greater part of its territory is not stipulated in its statute and the environmental regime. At the same time, there are villages within the boundaries of the park, and the villagers are forced to violate its environmental regime in order to pursue their traditional lifestyle.

The formation of a well conceived system of territories of traditional nature use in the Kemerovo Region could become one of the most important measures for giving an impetus to the development of the situation in real terms. Apart from the adoption of additional normative documents, it is vital to determine the procedures for identifying the boundaries of the territory of traditional nature use; for establishing an optimal regime of nature use, making it possible to preserve and develop traditions of the people in accordance with the principles of sustainable development; for establishing the territory’s status without infringing the rights of the non-indigenous population; and the procedure for liquidation of the TTNU.

In 2003, the Kemerovo Regional Social Organization “Agency for Taiga research and preservation (AIST)”, with the support of the Association of the Shor People, set about the preparation of a feasibility study for the establishment of a TTNU in Gornaya Shoriya. The objective of this effort is to identify the major criteria of establishing the TTNU: its subjects, the mechanism of forming its borders, and a recommended regime of rational nature use. Historical, ecological and economic prerequisites have been studied while preparing the feasibility report, which, in turn, includes the following:




We deemed it important to be guided by the traditional lineage-based kinship principle of land distribution as the basic criterion in forming the borders of the TTNU and its subject; in other words, the one who would use the territory. Settlement by lineage-based kinship principle has formed historically due to the traditional subsistence and survival system of the Shors. Therefore, attitudes concerning ownership and use of a definite plot of land have also been formed on the basis of the same principle. The presence of a distinct lineage-based kinship or family structure in the distribution of the Shor population bordering industrial areas in the past can serve as one of the main grounds for the formation of borders of the newly established TTNU. At present, this idea of creating a legal entity as “lineage-based kinship community” is spreading among the Shors. Therefore, it seems expedient to use a lineage-based kinship community or a separate family as the basic economic subject while developing a TTNU in Gornaya Shoriya.

We have considered the results of various research efforts carried out at different times by ethnographers, historians, specialists in Turkic studies and other experts on the territory of Gornaya Shoriya as historical prerequisites for the establishment and development of a TTNU using lineage-based kinship and family principles. The research carried out by Miller, Verbitsky, Potapov, Kimeyev, and Sadovy is of special interest to our work. Their papers present not only descriptions of traditional industries and trades of the Shors, but also cover peculiar features like land-related relations and geographic allocation of Shor tribes (seoks).,

Gerard Friedrich Miller was in 1734 one of the first to describe the disposition of settlements (volosts – territorial subdivisions of uezds) of indigenous population (Tatar peoples) in the Kuznetsk uezd (an administrative subdivision of a Guberniya): “… it should be mentioned in general about the Tatar peoples in the Kuznetsk uezd that they largely stick side by side in certain tribes and small districts… Opposite the city of Kuznetsk, on the southwestern bank of Tom, higher than the mouth of the Kondoma River, the Abinsk Tatars reside who call themselves Abalars – the name derived from a frequently mentioned little river Aba on which they used to live from times immemorial… the following Tatar districts or volosts… are partly on the Tom River, downwards from Kuznetsk, and on the Chumysh River, partly upwards along the Tom River as far as the border with the Krasnoyarsk uezd, partly on the Mras River and the rivulets flowing into it, partly on the Kondoma River and partly on the Biya River and the Altynskoye Lake along with other locations there…” He identified the following Shor settlements (volosts), whose names were derived from the basic tribes (seoks): Keretskaya, Bogorakova, Moinakova, Sagaiskaya, Bel’tirskaya, Beshbayakova, Yedeyeva, Togoyakova, Yeleiskaya, Blizhnyaya Karga, Kuzesheva Karga, Kyzyl-Karga, Kivinskaya, Izusherskaya, Barsayatskaya, Yetiberskaya, Karacherskaya or Shorskaya, Sholkal’skaya, Karginskaya.

Missionary V.I. Verbitsky mentioned the lineage-based kinship character of Shor villages (uluses) in his well-known paper “Altai Non-Russians”: “The Altai non-Russians, apart from the official division into dyuchins and volosts, divide themselves into numerous tribes or generations (seoks, kosts). The origin of seoks varies. Some of them have people as their founders, others stem from mountains…”

L.P. Potapov, on the basis of the analysis of the material he gathered in the first half of the 20th century, makes a conclusion about the prevailing role of the Shor tribe in the questions of distribution of hunting and nut-gathering areas and regulation of land-oriented relations: “As we had a chance to become convinced personally during the discussions with elders, each tribe used to earn their living only in their sector of the taiga. The lineage-based kinship ownership of hunting grounds was strictly protected. Trespassing on somebody else’s kinship territory was considered a violation of the right of the lineage-based kinship property and was subject to persecution”. The researcher noted that the memory of lineage-based kinship ownership of hunting territory is so vivid among the Shors that we could determine its borders without difficulty for a number of seoks. Further on, the scientist makes the following conclusion: “… only recently collective kinship ownership of the basic means of production: land, including hunting grounds and arable land”.

The well-known Kemerovo ethnographer V.M. Kimeyev came to a similar conclusion in the 1880s: “By the time of the advent of the Russians to the upper reaches of the Tom River , the exogamous tribe (“seok”) was the basic economic unit among the people of the Kuznetsk taiga…” (Kimeyev, 1989). He systematized the data collected by various researchers of Gornaya Shoriya and compiled tables of distribution of the Shors by tribe and seok at different times.

In order to specify the locations of settlement and traditional economic activity of the indigenous population in Gornaya Shoriya in the recent past, we conducted a survey by questioning old-timers in the following villages: Orton, Trekhreche, Ust-Kabyrza, Klyuchevoi, Ust-Anzas, Chuvashka, Biskamzha, Ust-Azas (Shor-Taiga). During the interviews a specially prepared questionnaire was filled in covering the information about the families residing in the villages and about the types and locations of traditional nature use. Data were collected about nature use covering not only the years of residence of the informant but also the period of time when his or her parents lived. Thus, the collected data could be referred to the beginning or middle of the 20th century. The location of nature use was marked on a topographic map to the scale of 1:200,000. In addition, during the interviews of the old-timers, questions were asked about the distribution of various trades and industries by time, ways and means of hunting, fishing, collecting cedar nuts, agriculture, and cattle breeding. It should be noted that the exclusion of the Kemerovo Region from the Tomsk Region in 1943 resulted in certain hunting areas falling outside its borders, and these began to be used on a non-legitimate basis. Some Shors became inhabitants of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and at a later date the Republic of Khakasiya . In this connection, there are certain difficulties with regard to their involvement in the development process of traditional nature use. In order to receive more objective data, we carried out a survey questioning old-timers in the village of Biskamzha in the territory of the Republic of Khakasiya . It was found that recently (in the 1990s), due to the migration inflow, fellow-villagers or close relatives were coming over to the territory of Khakasiya bordering the Kemerovo Region. Therefore, all the survey data were taken into account while analyzing every factor to prepare the present feasibility study and outline the location of the proposed TTNU. However, the territory of Khakasiya is not taken into account since it is a separate territory within the Russian Federation .

In order to carry out additional analysis of the situation and justify the TTNU, data collected by an ethno-social monitoring group of the Kuzbass Laboratory of Anthropology and Ethnography were used. This laboratory conducted research of trade and industry-oriented land use by the population in the Chilis-Anzas, Ust-Anzas and Ust-Konzas village administrations of the Tashtagolskiy district in 2000-2001. In the opinion of this group’s participants, “every village, as a rule, has its own nut-gathering and hunting territory including both lands for joint use and trade-related areas of individual families”. As a result of the interviews of old-timers and the analysis of the present-day situation of nature use by the population of taiga villages to satisfy their own needs, we have come to a similar conclusion about the necessity to allot land areas for joint nature use in the process of outlining the borders of the TTNU.

Well regulated relations in the field of nature use based on national traditions within the framework of the so-called tacit (traditional) law have been formed on the territories densely populated by Shors, predominantly in the Tashtagolskiy district.

The research carried out by the ethno-social monitoring group in 2000-2001 and our own examinations have shown that a well regulated system of use of trade and industry-related areas with their clear-cut distribution between the villages has been formed on many indigenous residence territories. In certain locations intra-village distribution of the territory is also practiced. In this case, closely located land areas are in joint use mainly for meat-procuring hunting and gathering. The main types of nature use determining the value of commercial areas are hunting for fur procurement and cedar nut gathering.

The work to prepare the feasibility study for the establishment of territories of traditional nature use in Gornaya Shoriya is close to completion. Now we are faced with the necessity of dovetailing the final decision with authorities and organizations regulating the problems of land and nature use. We are hopeful that the RF Government and RAIPON will at long last formulate their position with regard to the development of traditional nature use and work out an effective mechanism to realize the hopes of all Russia’s aborigines. We also hope that this work will foster the establishment of a functioning TTNU in Gornaya Shoriya, which, in turn, will become a milestone for the economic and spiritual revival of the Shor people.