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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2015 year, number 1

CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION OF THE RUSSIAN OLD-SETTLERS IN THE ARCTIC AREAS OF YAKUTIA

S.Ye. Nikitina
The Institute of humanities Research and the indigenous Studies of the North, SB RAS, 677027, Yakutsk, Petrovsky st., 1
Sarg_Nik.ykt@mail.ru
Keywords: Russian Arctic old-settlers, original language and folklore, traditional nature management, ethnic identity

Abstract

The historical literature about the Old Russian culture of the XVI century preserved by the old-settlers in the Arctic areas of Yakutia represents participant observation of the exiles (at the end of the XIX century) and members of scientific expeditions of the XX century. Although this topic is of high scientific interest some issues remain unresolved, i.e. the question about the time of their origin, specifics of their adaptation and inter-civilization interaction. Special attention should be paid to the problem of their transformation in the XX-XXI centuries. The present paper supports the hypothesis of their arrival fr om the Russian North via the Northern Sea. They were accompanied by their families that provided the Russian old-settlers of Yakutia with an adequate social environment for inter-generational transmission of their original language and folklore and, ultimately, of their ethnic identity. The Russian identitys opposition to the alien linguistic landscape under the conditions of geographic isolation contributed to preservation of the Old Russian culture. Unification of the Soviet educational system, regular transportation links with European Russia, new cultural values promoted the Russian literary language as the means of communication to an extent that one can talk about the vanishing scenery. Field materials of the 2012-2014 expeditions allowed making the following conclusions: positive academic interest in the Old Russian language and folklore along with the State protectionist policy preserving the unique Arctic microeconomics had, undoubtedly, supported the tradition of their existence. An important condition for preserving this culture has been a mono-ethnic compact settlement (Russian Uste, Pokhodsk), wh ere the basis of the peoples life sustenance depended on the traditional use of natural resources. Collapse of the existing system of economic relations (the decline of the fur hunting industry, especially hunting the Arctic fox; collapse of the single system for delivering fishery products) changed the structure of the economy of the Russian enclave in the Arctic: the local people refused from dog breeding and fur hunting but retained the basic element of the traditional way of life - fishing. However, heir legal insecurity threatens the prospects of their traditional trades.