Organisational seminar of the Kamchatka Information Center of the
Indigenous Peoples of the North

Anastasiya Chukhman, project assistant

In Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy from 13 to 20 August 2001 an organisational seminar took place to initiate the opening of Information Center of Indigenous Peoples of North. The Information Center "Lach" is the first informational center, which has been created with the object to protect the environment and rights of people. The basic aim of this seminar was to train the people going to work in the future.

Pavel Sulyandziga (RAIPON's vice-president, Board member of IWGIA), Olga Murashko (scientific expert of project), Thomas Køhler (TGK Consult), Information Center staff in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and its regional sub-units were present at the seminar.

The main goals of the Center are the organisation of bilateral exchange between RAIPON and regional structures of Kamchatka, support to indigenous peoples' public organisations, communities, and indigenous enterprises through training seminars and legal advice. An additional goal is to attract financial resources for the support of initiatives from below, etc.

The Center will have a Central office in Petropavlovsk and regional offices in Palana, Kovran and Ossora. Three staff members will be working in each regional office where Internet and office equipment has been installed.

In Petropavlovsk, Olga Davydova was chosen for the post of co-ordinator and will offer legal consultations. Anastasiya Chukhman will be the Informational Center's assistant director for organisational questions. Dmitriy Bereykov will work as fund-raiser.

The results of the regional competition for the remaining positions was announced. Ivan Collegov, Elena Appolon, and Elena Popova were hired for the Ossora office. Tatyana Zaeva and Oleg Zaporotskiy were hired in Palana. Lyudmila Smirnova, Evdokiya Sadovnikova and Mariya Nedotopa were hired in Kovran.

The organisational seminar was opened by representatives of the indigenous peoples of Kamchatka who wanted to cooperate with the Information Center. Afterward the seminar participants met with Olga Chernyagina (director of the league of independent experts in Kamchatka). She talked about the league, perspectives of cooperation, etc. The same day Pavel Sulyandziga, Olga Murashko and Thomas Køhler met with Valentina Uspenskaya (editor of the newspaper "Aborigen-Kamchatki", a project participant). Pavel Sulyandziga told the project participants about RAIPON's Canadian project. In the evening all participants left for Hotel "Rassvet" ("Dawn") to continue the seminar outside Petropavlovsk.

On the second day of the seminar, 14 August, Nina Zaporotskaya started by congratulating the staff of the Information Center with their new jobs and talked about the future work. As guests Valeriy Sankovich, President of the Regional Association of Indigenous Peoples of Kamchatka, Vladimir Dobrynin, Vice-president of the International Association of Aleuts, Maria Sidorenko, President of Association of Indigenous Peoples of North of the Koryakskiy Autonomous Okrug, and Oleg Zaporotskiy, President of the Council of Kamchatka Itelmen "Thsanom" were present at the seminar.

Pavel Sulyandziga held a lecture about "Information Center in Kamchatka as a part of the strategy of the development of indigenous people's movement". He underlined that the Information Center will work in the framework of RAIPON's Project Center and that the Information Center is a technical instrument of RAIPON, not a political organ. Tomas Køhler and Nina Zaporotskaya jointly went through the project document that describes the work of the IC in the coming years.

The seminar was continued by Olga Murashko's lecture on the subject of "Preparation of documents to create a territory of traditional land use, how to collect information about territory of traditional land use, and how to use the law about territory of traditional land use". Murashko talked about the making of federal law "About territory of traditional land use of indigenous peoples of North, Siberia and Far East". She explained each article of the new law, adopted in May this year, which elicited a great deal of interest among all the participants.

The third day of the seminar, 15 August, Olga Davydova made a speech about legal guarantees of traditional fisheries trade of indigenous peoples in the past and present. O. Murashko, T. Køhler and P. Sulyandziga explained Information Center's participants how to collect the information and how to give an account of the work. Thomas Køhler held a seminar about project writing and LFA.

The whole day of 16 August was dedicated to a role playing game. The situation of the game was adapted to the reality. The participants were divided into three groups. Indigenous peoples' representatives of a community composed the first group; a joint-stock company ("Dark rock") representatives composed the second group (occupied with the extraction of natural resources). Representatives of the administration composed the third group. The plot was a governmental refusal to indigenous people's representatives to create a territory of traditional land use. The reason of this refusal was the the decision of the administration to have the joint-stock company "Dark rock" prospect for oil. Generally speaking, the game was a success. Indigenous peoples representatives were actively and persistently defending their native interests. However, the groups did not come to any agreement about the consequences. Therefore, they decided to go to court for consideration of this argument. Unfortunately, we did not have time enough to play the trial to the end.

In the morning of 17 August the seminar participants left for Petropavlovsk. At 14.30 in the regional library's building there was a press conference on the opening of the Center. Nina Zaporotskaya, the director of the Center, led the press conference. Pavel Sulyandziga, Thomas Køhler, Olga Murashko and the staff all participated in it. N. Zaporotskaya told about the beginning of the Center's work, the problems and aim and organisation of the seminar. Sulyandziga spoke about RAIPON's public work and the Information Center's role in Kamchatka. Thomas Køhler informed about his public work, the role of his organisation's cooperation with RAIPON, tasks of the Kamchatka Center and the Danish work to assist indigenous peoples in the world. Olga Murashko related her experience as an expert on indigenous peoples' issues in the State Duma.

During the seminar the Center coordinators held meetings with other project organisers who work in Kamchatka: Frederic Lines (UNDP's director), Pitter Neuton (UNDP's coordinator of Kamchatka's programmes) and Nikolay Shmatkov (representative of the Universal Union of Guarding Nature). All the meetings took place in a friendly atmosphere and generated agreements regarding mutual cooperation.

At the conclusion of the seminar all the participants agreed on the importance of such seminars and discussed thoughts and ideas on how to continue their practical work on similar seminars.

Translated and edited by Roza Tamazanova, Project assistant, RAIPON C.I.P Moscow and TGK Consult.