Chukotka and ICC

September 2001
Galina Diachkova

The Moscow Institute for Socio-Anthropological Research conducted this summer a research project in Chukotka, as well as Krasnoyarsk and Primorsk regions, entitled: “The Place of the Indigenous Social Organisations from the North, Siberia and Far East in the Social Policy of the Russian Federation.” The basic goal of the project was to assess the organisational level of the indigenous population and to determine their awareness of their rights and laws.

I worked in the region of East Chukotka, which is mostly populated by Eskimos and Chukchis. The population is nowadays struggling to survive under the most complicated socio-economic conditions. The fundamental social problems for the inhabitants of this region are a high unemployment rate, living conditions, alcoholism, medical services and education.

Preliminary results concerned the organisations such as Council of the Elders, local associations, “Yupik” and “Avan” societies, and women’s councils. The majority of the respondents, nonetheless, were not only unaware of the Russian Association of Indigenous Minorities of the Far East, but also of the local Association of the Indigenous People of Chuktoka. Even if they had known about it, they pointed out that their connection with the local association was purely formal. Only certain individuals knew the contents of the laws and the rights of the indigenous population. The reasons for such poor knowledge are two-fold: on the one hand, the people of Chukotka is in existential crisis and their main concern is survival; and, on the other, the region has been marked by the absence of media in the last ten years, namely newspapers, radio and television.

The fact that Mr. Aqqaluk Lynge, President of ICC (Inuit Circumpolar Conference) visited the district center of Anadyr in August 2001 is a sign of positive developments in Chukotka. During the ICC Anadyr visit, an Agreement of Mutual Cooperation was signed by ICC (Aqqaluk Lynge), the government of Chukotka (R. Abramovich) and the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Chukotka (I. Khomitskaya). In addition, Mr. Aqqaluk Lynge met with representatives of the indigenous population on 17 August 2001. At this meeting, it was decided that the collaboration would take various forms, such as the publication of training materials in native languages (L. Ainana) and the creation of a Legal Information Center and a Business Center in Chukotka (G. Diachkova).