The history of the origin of the Far Eastern Minority Tribes

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The history of the origin of the Far Eastern Minority Tribes


The indigenous population of the Russian Far East is divided into two groups: the Far North Paleoasiatic (Nivkhi, Koryaki, Itelmeni) and the Tungusso-Manchurian (Oroki, Orochi, Eveni, Evenki, Nanai, Ulchi, Ude, Negidaltsi). The history of the origin and development of the local tribes goes back to the remote past. A number of different theories were suggested by the scientists but it is still difficult to draw a genuine picture of the process of populating of this area. According to scientist Shrenk the local minority people were assimilated by two ethnic waves – by Paleoasians who moved from Central Asia and by the Tunguss people who used to settle in the East of the Yenissey river. The combination of those two cultures had a great effect upon the local people who later on in their turn established close links with the Asian and North American cultures.

Diversity of cultures can be still traced in the varieties of dialects and languages of the Far Eastern indigenous people. Widely spread geographically, different ethnic communities appeared in the second and first millennium B.C. or in the early iron age in the southern part of the present-day Russian Far East. The taiga and rivers fed the local people but anyway they lived a very primitive, semi-barbarian, misery life, using simple tools and implements. But people fought with all their might for their living.

Aboriginal winter dwellings were semi-dug-outs, made of thin poles coated with clay. The interior was presented by various household articles mainly made of a birch bark. The aboriginal people were brilliant at making clothes not even knowing how to weave, primarily using fish and animal skins. For centuries the indigenous people were developing their own unique forms of applied arts which closely tied up with their everyday life.

When Russians came to the Far East they contributed much to the development of the economy and culture of the aboriginal people who learnt from Russians how to weave, to use guns for hunting, to grow vegetables. Some local people learnt reading and writing and even imitated Russian decorative art and patterns.

The most intensive settlement of Russians began in the middle of the 19th century hundreds after the serfdom was abolished in Russia in 1861. Sometimes it took Russians from two to three years to get to the Far East where Russian peasants truly hoped to find better life conditions. Despite the intensive settlement the economic development of the area went very slowly, living conditions were awfull. Basically the extractive industries were only flourishing, but natural resources were robbed by the foreign companies. That was the construction of the Transsiberian Railroad which caused a social and economic development of this area. The railroad was under construction for 25 years. The construction was completed in 1916, mainly by convicts as a form of cheap labour. Gold and coal mining, fish and wood processing industries began to develop here but all of them were controlled by foreign companies. The living conditions of the workers were appalling which gave rise to anti-government activities ending up with the 1917 Revolution , followed by the terrible years of the Civil War.


Answer the questions:


1. How many groups does the indigenous population of the Far East consist of?

2. What was Shrenk’s theory of the origin and development of the local tribes of the Far East?

3. When did first ethnic communities appear in the Far East?

4. How did the aboriginal people survive?

5. What forms of arts did the indigenous people develop?

6. How did first Russian settlers contribute to the development of the economy of the aboriginal people?


Mighty Amur

Khabarovskiy cliff and its vicinity, is where the Far Eastern center began its growth, as it was rendered habitable long ago. We know practically nothing about its ancient and the earliest inhabitants. We can assume that many tribes and nations lived there during past millenniums.

There was a Nanayan nomad camp at the place of the future Khabarovsk before Russian explorers came. Aborigines lived on both banks of Amur. Signs on old geographical maps show their settlements. The famous researcher of Siberia and the Far East, Richard Karlovich Maak, who participated in the first Amur floating down this great Far Eastern river in 1855, described the future Khabarovsk vicinity. “There is an immense area of water, merging with the horizon in front of us. The view is wonderful: the sun is brightly reflected on absolutely calm water, filling it with golden light, there are sea-gulls in the air, our eyes meet only mirrors of water and clear sky”. He also told about cliff Byri with small nearby village. “Rocky ledge Byri”, mentioned by Maak, is the Khabarovskiy cliff.

Maak was the first Russian and European scientist, who described the Amur, its banks and closest vicinity, the wealth of local nature, the people and their business. Recordings in his diary of July, 1885 are considered the first scientific-cognitive reporting about the location of the future town, which would appear a hundred years later on the Amur bank and occupy 50 kilometers.

One evening he went back along the bank to cliff Byri to visit the village of natives, located near it. He wrote: “During this trip I was certain that Amur is rich in fish, I shot some sturgeons with my gun; huge sturgeons jumped out of the water and disappeared again, flapping their wide tails. Sturgeons and a lot of other fish were swimming near our feet between the stones, they were playing under the sun, splashing the water and leaving quickly disappearing circles on the surface of the river”.

The scientist observed this pageant near the present-day plant “Daldiesel”.


Read two quotations from the diary of R. K. Maak, traveler-naturalist, geographer and geologist:

“… Перед нами открылась необозримая площадь воды, сливавшаяся с горизонтом. Вид был прекрасный: солнце ярко отражалось в совершенно покойной воде, обливая ее золотистым светом, в воздухе вились чайки, и взоры встречались только с зеркалом воды и с ясным небом”.

“Во время этой прогулки я имел случай убедиться, как обилен Амур рыбою, и убил из ружья несколько осетров; огромные калуги беспрестанно выскакивали из воды и снова скрывались, взмахнувши своим широким хвостом; у наших ног, между каменьями, плавали осетры и множество различной рыбы играло на солнце, беспрестанно всплескивая воду и оставляя на поверхности реки быстро расходившиеся круги”.


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