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Agree with reindeer herder
On the peculiarities of interaction between the state, business and indigenous peoples
Head of the department of ethnology of the historical faculty of the Moscow State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences Dmitry Funk tells EastRussia about the actual problems of the indigenous peoples of the Far East and ways to solve them.
- The term "indigenous small peoples" is now well known. And how did it come about in Russia? — In 1925, it was necessary to organize the administrative management of the indigenous peoples of the North, to collect accurate information about their numbers and economic activities. At the same time, the idea of "small peoples of the North" began to form. In 1926, a list of peoples that the USSR was going to help in socio-economic development appeared. It was about reindeer breeders, about those who were engaged in marine hunting, and about hunters and gatherers. The number of peoples in the list changed over time: the list either expanded to several dozen items, then narrowed to 23 - different statistics were obtained in different censuses. The largest list I found in the document of the Ministry of Education, created at the end of the Soviet regime - 37 ethnic groups were indicated there.
- This maximum has been preserved at the present time?
- At the moment, in the Russian Federation, the list of small indigenous peoples exceeds 40 names. In the early 90s, four ethnic groups from among the Turkic peoples of southern Siberia were able to "jump on the last car of the train" - into the list of 26 small peoples. This is how Teleuts, Kumandins, Shors and Tuvans-Todjins were included in the list. Then the list expanded even further - it included part of the ethnic groups from Altai, the Chulym Turks, some groups in Eastern Siberia and the Far East, as well as part of the peoples of Dagestan.
- The state collected information about the indigenous people to manage them. Happened?
- Various forms of governance of small indigenous peoples have been tested. In the 1920s, a committee of the Peoples of the North appeared, which carried out the registration and census of the population. Then the situation worsened, because with each new census, some of the information was washed out. The data remained at the level of local authorities, in household books, until, finally, statistics were no longer kept regularly. Powers were transferred to special committees, then in the early 90s special departments for social and economic development were created under local administrations. There was a special person who did statistics. But now in many regions this is not the case.
- What did it all come to?
- Gradually, the decision has matured to give some powers to the indigenous peoples themselves. The Association of Indigenous Small-Numbered Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East appeared. The term "small indigenous peoples" itself was born in 1986-1989 at the initiative of Evdokia Alexandrovna Gaer. She was a State Duma deputy from the Far East, a scientist-ethnographer, and she herself was from among these peoples, by ethnic origin - Nanayka. "Small nations" seemed offensive to people, and the word "small" was more acceptable, since it is just a statement of the number. Thanks to the activities of the RAIPON, a lot has been accomplished. Since 1999, several federal laws have been adopted that directly apply to small indigenous peoples.
But at the same time, it seems to me, the RAIPON at some time began to mark time. In 2013, at the next congress of the Association, a change of leading persons within the organization was carried out. The number of projects and various kinds of other initiatives, the representation of the RAIPON leadership at various congresses and forums, including international ones, has not become less than before, work continues, but whether the small peoples living on earth have become better is still difficult to say.
- If to speak about the Far East, the composition of the indigenous people here has somehow changed?
- Firstly, these are not the peoples who lived in the Far East in the 1920s. In all aspects of their lives - social, economic, cultural, linguistic, and so on - there have been great changes. There are ethnic groups in which from 50% to 75% of those who consider themselves to these peoples are city dwellers, and not those who, as someone, perhaps, thinks, runs with a bow and arrow after a deer. Moreover, these are people who, for the most part, are not employed in those industries that are considered traditional. About 60% are economically inactive population, according to the data of the latest all-Russian population censuses. They are not "alcoholics and parasites". But those who are listed in the unformed, "gray" artels for catching fish, caviar, hunting brigades. There are many seasonal workers who are also not legally registered.
- It turns out that only a few people lead a way of life, at least similar to the traditional way of life?
- About 20% of the indigenous minorities are employed in the financial sector, construction, transport, and in the social sphere. And only 13% of the total are people employed in traditional sectors of the economy. However, it cannot be said that the indigenous peoples have completely forgotten about their traditional economic activities. They are expressed seasonally. As the American and Canadian experience shows, companies need to take this feature of their employees into account. If there is Putin in September, the management of the enterprise should take into account in advance that at this time the employee should be given a vacation, because he will not go to work anyway, even if he risks losing it. And it doesn't depend on who he is - a "white collar" or a worker in a warehouse. My experience of conducting statistical research shows that a significant part of those who work in social institutions or office buildings, when the season of bumping starts or there is fish, go to the taiga or to the bay. It is impossible to keep a person in the workplace by any means.
- Do you manage to preserve the national culture in such conditions?
- In the sphere of culture, the situation has also changed. Some of its elements have become a symbol of demonstrating identity, belonging, when sometimes - in a situation of almost complete loss of the ethnic language - it is enough to know a few words in your native language in order to demonstrate loyalty to your people, some kind of community with it. The problem of revitalizing languages and attempts to teach them at school has become urgent. All the techniques used in the textbooks were developed in the 20s and are designed for children who already know the language. Now the situation is completely different - it is necessary to teach the languages of the indigenous population as foreign ones, Oxford and Cambridge methods of intensive teaching of foreign languages are required.
- The area of traditional business is narrowing due to the fact that now is another time, or are there any other reasons?
- The problem is the reduction of territories of traditional nature management. The terrain is dotted with pipelines that carry oil and gas, giant waste heaps appear in areas of open coal mining, and so on. But all this was once pastures or other territories that were mastered by the local indigenous population. In a number of subjects of the Russian Federation, one can still observe the practice of forcible resettlement of people. Often this approach leads to conflicts between business and society, largely due to the wrong approach to communicating with the local population. Incidents often lead to multi-million dollar costs for companies.
"But business can somehow avoid such conflicts?"
- To resolve this issue, it is worth asking for help from scientists. It is more profitable to negotiate with the local population than to fight. Social anthropologists - ethnologists know how to do this. They imagine the social stratification of the society with which the business will deal, the cultural and behavioral characteristics of people. In 2005, people from British Petroleum came to me with a request to develop for them an internal policy of behavior towards indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation. My colleague and I have written a great guide for workers at different levels - leaders, directors, managers, workers. Even the smallest details are important here. For example, you need to know: is it possible, if you are going to the reindeer herders, to bring your favorite dog with you from home. Moreover, to achieve a stable result, targeted assistance to the local population is needed, which minimizes social conflicts. The indigenous population can be used as helpers - no one knows the taiga better than them. They can be linemen, looking for where a drop of oil has spilled, while protecting their land and receiving a salary from the firm. The company gets motivated and skillful employees.
- Otherwise - big losses?
- In the same 2005, in January, there was one of the most significant incidents on Sakhalin. The local population for three days openly opposed the obviously negative impact of oil workers on the traditional environment. People blocked the road, lay down under the tracks of tractors and wheels of cars - and as a result, the business began to stand idle. Companies started to suffer colossal losses. As a result, the oilmen agreed to negotiate with the local population, although not all of them - only Sakhalin Energy. Specialists from the USA, local scientists, ethnographers from Moscow were involved, who conducted a study to assess social impact.
As a result, a kind of consortium with local indigenous peoples was created. A plan for the socio-economic development of the indigenous minorities of the Sakhalin North was proposed, which has existed for the third period and costs only $ 300 per year. In addition to sponsoring schools, hospitals and other social infrastructure, people are provided with grants for the development of their own production, so that local residents can provide a comfortable existence for themselves, their families and develop (if we use this term of the dominant culture). If the research had been done in advance, then financial losses could have been avoided.
— Is the procedure for conducting such studies legally described?
- In the 1999 law "On guarantees of the rights of the indigenous small-numbered peoples of the Russian Federation" there are only two words - "ethnological expertise" with a certain set of words as a "definition" of this phenomenon. To be precise, it says that this is "a scientific study of the influence of changes in the original habitat of small peoples and the socio-cultural situation on the development of an ethnic group." What it is and what should be the procedure for its implementation, what are the expected results - it is still unclear, although work on their development has been going on for the second decade.
- At the local level, can this be somehow specified and supplemented?
- On Sakhalin several years ago, they tried to adopt a law and local regulation on ethnological examinations. Why was such a measure necessary? There is no uniform methodology, procedure, by-laws and procedural norms. For the third year now, I have been implementing a large project under the sonorous title "Resource Curse", which was supported by the Russian Science Foundation. We are trying to figure out how ethnological expertise is carried out in our country and abroad, where it is called the assessment of the impact on society, or the assessment of the social impact of management decisions. My group and I are trying to show that it is already possible to use international experience on domestic soil, albeit with some adaptation.
It is clear that many companies will not like this approach at first, as they will incur some costs. On the other hand, if we are talking not just about indigenous peoples, but about the population of the whole country, if we care about the health and well-being of people, then business is likely to change its attitude. However, purely mercantile considerations also work here - carrying out a competent examination significantly reduces the risk of conflicts with the local population and the potential costs of people's dissatisfaction. When the indigenous population becomes ill, they block the highways and come out with posters "We demand ethnological expertise!", Which can be understood as a cry "Help!"
- Does business understand that these risks need to be minimized?
- There are examples of this. In 2013, we were first contacted by sociologists, and then by representatives of Exxon Neftegaz Ltd. They wanted to understand what the current situation looks like for the ethnic groups of Sakhalin, whom they already tried to help, but did not have a clear idea of them and their needs. I assembled a team of graduate students and young colleagues, and for five months we worked directly with people on the island, mainly with the Nivkhs who are engaged in marine hunting and gathering and settled quite widely throughout the island, and with current and former Uilta reindeer breeders, which were formerly called Oroks. They live in two groups - in the south of Sakhalin, in Poronaysk, and in the north, mainly in the village of Val - in communities of about 100 people each. We used qualitative methods: polls, observations, we got involved in local projects and production activities. The result was a collective monograph "Culture and resources. The experience of the ethnological survey of the current situation of the peoples of the North of Sakhalin ", which we released in 2015 at the expense of the customer and with the support of the Russian Association of Medical Anthropologists... The book is known and read from the village of Nekrasovka, Okha district, to the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
- Does she answer all questions about how to build relationships with small nations?
- No. But this is one of the possible steps to improve people's lives, regardless of who pays for the research. Despite the fact that we were sponsored by oil workers, the book contains a lot of hard-hitting facts about their activities. Scientists need to get used to the fact that the sources of funding for scientific work can be different, but if you can make at least something to change the current social reality, then you should not give up work.
- Are there any other examples of how science can help indigenous peoples?
- In fact, there are a great many projects for the development and assistance of small indigenous peoples. There are projects for the preservation of cultural heritage and the protection of territories of traditional nature management related to the mapping of territories, the so-called mapping of sacred sites. Over the past two or three years, a group from the University of Helsinki with the support of Shell has been actively working on Sakhalin to restore the Nivkh language. They use a technique that has been tested, in particular, in the Scandinavian Sámi. The essence of the technology is simple - you need to find grandmothers, teach them to speak at a certain pace in their native language and wean them from using Russian words in everyday speech. Then they are issued a permit to work in a kindergarten and a group of children is issued. It works 100% - after a while, children become native speakers.