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Tel.: +7 (495) 250-61-02
6, build. 2, Miusskaya sq., Moscow, 125047, Russian Federation
Junior Researcher of the Teaching Scientific Center of Social Anthropology, Russian State University for the Humanities
тел.: + 7 (495) 250-61-02; e-mail:
Date of publication

This article considers the contemporary reindeer herders of Chukotka. During the last 100 years, the policies of the Soviet and Russian governments have greatly influenced the culture, mode of subsistence, as well as the lifestyle of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic regions. During the post-war years (the late 1940s — first half of the 1960s) the forcible changes they underwent were devastating: reindeer herders were forced to enter collective and state farms (kolkhozes and sovkhozes), the reindeer were nationalized, nomads were forced into a sedentary lifestyle, and children were removed from families and put into boarding schools. Many tribulations also followed the breakup of the traditional system of pasture turnover and the closure of reindeer migration routes, and the policy of sharply increasing the number of animals led to a severe crisis. Nonetheless, experienced reindeer breeders were able to preserve Chukchi reindeer husbandry during the Soviet era and to save it from an even more crushing disaster in the new market economy. Today, not many Chukchi reindeer herders continue to use the traditional methods of raising reindeer in the tundra, but some of them still continue to work in sovkhozes and look after reindeer which they do not own. The article describes the hard life of these herders — the very people whom the Chukchi consider the “anchor” of their people — and the numerous problems which they face in today’s world.


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For citation

Anichkova O. M. The last anchor of identity. Contemporary reindeer herders of Chukotka. Traditional culture. 2019. Vol. 20. No. 2. Pp. 36–49. In Russian.