On the Far Frontiers


The author describes an ethnic Chukchi village of Meynypilgyno, located on the border of the Chukchi and Kamchatka Peninsulas. In recent decades, the ethno-linguistic picture of this village has significantly deteriorated: there are no speakers of the Kerek language left. According to the 2010 census, there was one person in Meynypilgyno who considered himself a Kerek. Over 90% of the villagers are Chukchi. The Chukchi language remains the language of communication for the older generation. The newcomers tend not to settle in this remote area. So far, the inhabitants have preserved some elements of traditional nomadic reindeer breeding and sedentary coastal cultures: they hold annual holidays, such as Kilway, the day of reindeer birth, and Vylgyk'oranmat, the day of fine-wool reindeer slaughter, continue to perform some rites and rituals, such as the burning of the dead, as well as go fishing and hunting for small pinnipeds.

The work provides a description of the phenomena occurring in the life of the village: its rapid renovation of the infrastructure, including the construction of a new school, new houses and a modern floating fish processing plant; its changes in everyday life; the formation of new lifestyles, including the “revival” of marine mammal hunting and the creation of deer farming; and, finally, its adaptation to the market conditions, including an attempt to create private farms as well as develop trade and services.

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