Every river in Koryakia will have its owner

Source: http://www.kamvesti.ru/index.php?id=article&date=2005-10-07&na=1

7 October 2005

The Congress of Northern Indigenous Peoples of the Koryak Autonomous Okrug (КАО) and the Kamchatkan Oblast started on 6 October 2005 , in Palana, the administrative centre of the KAO. Its participants have assembled to discuss two fundamental issues: (1) a referendum on the association of the KAO and the Kamchatkan Oblast as a new subunit of the Russian Federation , and (2) the legal status of numerically small indigenous peoples (NSIP) and the preservation of their traditional ways of life.

These questions are not new to the delegates of the KAO. They were heard the day before at a similar conference of the NSIP of Koryakia. This conference dealt with legislative questions concerning the lives of the indigenous population: conditions and development of reindeer breeding, creation of territories of traditional nature use, the legal status of fishing and hunting sites, the social status of indigenous settlements.

The governor of the KAO, Oleg Kozhemyako, reported on how the district authorities deal with these problems:

 “The indigeous proportion of Koryakia’s total population is the highest of all similar regions in Russia . An effective policy concerning these inhabitants is necessary”, Oleg Kozhemyako told the participants of conference. “The result of of the lack of such policies is familiar to all of us: the break-down of all basic traditional occupations of the indigenous people, which are characterised by unique sources of income, and, as a consequence, a critical decrease of all social parameters.” The governor noted that ways to stabilise reindeer breeding, a vital subsistence activity in the district, are already being implemented. The problem of lacking salary payments to reindeer breeders has been practically eliminated, their payments have been adjusted, and next year we plan to double salaries. In addition to salary, individual food provisions worth 1800 roubles each are provided to everybody, and this amount is set to rise the next year. In total the sum of 22 million roubles is suggested to be spent for such purposes from the district budget for 2006. These measures will allow a 13 % increase in reindeer, which today make up about 34,700 head. The district administration is also working toward the establishment of territories of traditional nature use with long-term affiliation to particular indigenous communities. This concerns fishing, hunting and the development of ethno-tourism. In 2006 a register will be established, and an inventory made of all rivers of the KAO, which then will be attached to the users living in the district. Thus, greater rivers will be attached to the large industrial enterprises, while the small rivers and tributaries are given to native communities.

Inventories, and then aerial surveys, of a number of wildlife species will be made for the hunting sites. Commercial hunting will increase employment, and the fees collected from the sale of commercial hunting licenses will add to the district’s treasury, as they do today. Low cost hunting licenses, not exceeding 1,500 rubles, will be distributed to representatives of the NSIP. Starting next year, ethno-tourism will be developed in one or two communities as pilot projects, which will help to attract the attention of potential tourists. Traditional native dwellings will be constructed, and boats as well as other equipment for fishing and hunting delivered.

One of the largest-scale measures of the district administration towards improving life in the КАО will be the development of medical services. 2006 has been declared the Year of Medicine in the KAO. The district program for health service improvements will provide diverse equipment for all regional hospitals, strengthening the professional skills of medical staff, and increasing of their salaries. The programme is supposed to be partly funded by the federal budget.

As a result of the delegates’s work during the two days of the conference, where vital issues concerning indigeous peoples’ life in Koryakia were discussed in detail, a resolution directed to the President of the Russian Federation , to the government of the КАО and local self-management bodies, was accepted.