Indigenous peoples of the North

   Known in Russian as the korennyie malochislennyie narody, or indigenous small-numbering peoples, the various ethnic groups of Russia’s Far North engage in a loose confederation based on their common interests, which include environmentalism, antidiscrimination, control of local resources, self-government, and preservation of their indigenous languages, cultures, lifestyles, and religions. The native peoples of northern Russia include the Aleut, Dolgan, Itelmen, Koryak, Mansi, Nanai, Nenets, Nganasan, Nivkh, Oroki, Orochi, Sami, Selkup, Tofalar, Udegey, Ulchi, Chuvan, Chukchi, Evenks, Even, Enets, Yupik (Asiatic Eskimos), Yukagir, and Sakha (Yakuts). In total, they number about 560,000, with the Sakha being the largest group. In recent decades, the Vod, Kamasinets, Kerek, and Omok nations have become extinct. In an attempt to use the benefit from the development of an embryonic civil society in the late Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the northern peoples formed the Russian Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) in 1990. Lacking an effective lobby due to their endemic poverty and small numbers, these nations have seen few if any benefits from the 2001 Law on Territories of Traditional Natural Resources Use of the Small Indigenous Nations of the Russian North, Siberia and the Far East, as their interests are often arrayed against those of giant corporations such as ALROSA, Gazprom, Lukoil, Norilsk Nickel, and Transneft. In recent years, they have coordinated with foreign minority rights groups, hoping to use the power of the European Union to aid their cause.
   Life expectancy is extremely low among the peoples of the north, and alcoholism, suicide, and infant mortality are widespread. Due to geographic challenges, the northerners suffer from lower levels of education and access to health care, while unemployment is high when compared to Russian society at large.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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