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Indigenous peoples: development for the sake of conservation
Valery TishkovDirector of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology named after N.N. Miklouho-Maclay RAS, Academician of RAS
- Valery Aleksandrovich, how do you see the future of the indigenous peoples of the North, and does it make sense to protect the natural habitat of the traditional peoples of the Arctic?
“On the one hand, the indigenous peoples of the North have lived in this zone for thousands of years, have developed a special lifestyle, in part the genetics of these peoples are adapted to this environment. They live and will live in familiar habitats, partially preserving the traditional economy, some cultural traditions, including languages.
But still, in my opinion, the strategic line should be for a cultural-oriented modernization. That is, indigenous peoples can not and should not turn into a unique isolated civilizational complex. They still have to find their place in modern life, including economic development of the Arctic regions, to occupy a niche in production. This will improve their living conditions, gain new skills, and master new professions.
- Is the development of the Arctic a threat to the indigenous peoples of the North, and are investments in the northern regions a boon to the indigenous peoples?
However, that lifestyle is a thing of the past. In the 20th century, the period of Soviet modernization began, based on the system of ethno-territorial autonomies in the form of national districts. Boarding schools were created, special efforts were made to preserve the literacy of the population, general medical examination and state subsidies were introduced. It was possible to avoid the extinction of the indigenous peoples of the North, but the general backwardness of the economy did not allow progress to be made.
Then a period of intensive development of the Arctic began. The Soviet Union condemned the Western method of the rotational development of the North. It was believed that it was necessary to build cities, bring people there (the non-indigenous population of the North was also brought in), and that the Western method of rotational “come, take and leave” was not suitable for us.
But the Soviet development of the North - a barbaric attitude towards nature, an inefficient economic method based on the delivery of a permanent population, had a disastrous impact on the fragile culture of the northern Arctic peoples.
The last 20 years after the collapse of the USSR is a period of self-awareness, self-organization of the Arctic peoples. They fit into the international context, into international organizations, movements, founded their own association. Indigenous peoples of the North managed to formulate and promote a number of federal and regional laws that protect their rights and interests.
A business that has recently been very active in the Arctic (especially oil and gas companies) have also become more aware of their responsibility and focus on international requirements.
It is necessary to involve them in production, to create conditions for mastering new skills and applying old ones. There are many opportunities that have not yet been fully exploited.
- What steps does the international community take to preserve indigenous peoples? And what is Russia's role in international cooperation on this issue?
- Various international declarations have been adopted. There is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It applies to all the indigenous peoples of the world, not just the Arctic. There are also World Bank directives for corporations (primarily resource-producing), which require taking into account the characteristics of the environment and the people living in it. Finally, there are international organizations that unite the Arctic peoples, in particular, the ICC (International Circumpolar Conference) is an international organization that unites all the circumpolar peoples.
We are faced with a kind of romanticism of enthusiasts who are striving to preserve the unique Arctic civilizations - do not touch, leave as is, only save. And do less emphasis on development. But the majority of the population of the Arctic peoples want to be equal members of a large society, live in large cities, receive higher education. The international community sometimes goes about romantic mythology and stands for the blind preservation of the traditions of the peoples of the North.
- Valery Aleksandrovich, how serious is the problem of migration of young indigenous representatives to the cities? How does the self-perception of youth change after leaving traditional habitats, and do they find use in the new environment?
- Migration from settlements is a trend that has probably been taking place since the beginning of the 20th century. And not only in Russia, but in other countries. Today, out of a quarter of a million who are indigenous to the small indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East in our country - more than half live in cities. This process is inevitable, as is the growth of urbanization in Russia and in the world.
There is a mixed type of population - they live in the village for a part of the year, and some of the time of the year they wander in the tundra, engage in reindeer herding, or go fishing or fishing for the sea or fur animals.
To solve the problem of linking rural settlements, settlements or communities, and sometimes individual nomadic families with urban settlements, small aviation is needed. It is necessary to develop infrastructure, transport in the Arctic. This will help to solve the problem of outflow of population.
Departure to the city has certain risks associated with social problems, primarily with alcoholism and drug addiction. Representatives of the indigenous peoples of the North are more prone to alcohol dependence, this is the scourge of all the Arctic peoples of the world.
It is necessary to provide assistance to the representatives of the indigenous peoples of the North who moved to the city: to provide for them special privileges or subsidies.
Interviewed by Nikolai Markotkin, program coordinator of the Russian Council for International Affairs (RSMD) and Daria Khaspekova, program coordinator of the INF.