Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

"Ethno-saving activities"

Arctic indigenous peoples' representatives discuss issues that will shape their future

3 november 2022

The Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic Summit was held on 2 November in Moscow as part of the 3rd All-Russian Forum "The Peoples of Russia." The topics discussed included the potential of the traditional economy, modernisation of livelihood systems, cross-border cooperation and state regulation of indigenous ethnic communities, as well as topical approaches to preserving the languages and cultural heritage of these peoples.

Representatives of 40 Arctic indigenous peoples, legislative and executive authorities, experts and specialists from civil society organisations took part in the summit.


One of the topics of discussion was the implementation of the Russian-initiated project 'Digitisation of the Linguistic and Cultural Heritage of Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic.' Its main objective is to preserve the endangered languages and cultures of the peoples of the North. There are 277 languages in Russia today, 139 of which need to be preserved. The project will result in a GIS map of languages to be used for educational purposes.

Other initiatives with the same aim were also presented at the summit. For example, the Native Language Olympiad of the peoples of Russia and the interactive atlas of the country's indigenous minorities.

'I would like to highlight the Arctic Council's project "Indigenous Youth, Food Culture and Change in the Arctic," which aims to explore the gastronomic traditions of the peoples of the North, promote indigenous products and add value to them,' noted Nikolay Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a senior official at the Arctic Council.

Participants of the summit also discussed the implementation of the programme of state support for traditional economic activities of indigenous minorities of Russia, approved in 2021.

'Among the interesting projects being implemented are the creation of a network of trade and logistics centres for northern deliveries, the creation of production bases for nomads in the Nenets Autonomous Area and the provision of transport facilities for educational organisations in Yakutia,' said Soslan Abisalov, Director of the Department for the Development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation and the Implementation of Infrastructure Projects at the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic.

The summit included an extended meeting of the Expert Advisory Council of the Russian Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs on the socio-economic development of small indigenous minorities. There was a particularly lively discussion on the registration of nomadic northerners. The participants discussed what kind of document a reindeer herder should have, and which agency should issue it. The problem is that to date, there is no clear definition of nomadism. Whether it should be introduced, what criteria to include - these questions were also debated.


A decision must be made on all these difficult issues, because, as Anna Kotova, Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs, reminded us, reindeer herding is more than economics. It is an ethno-saving activity that affects the preservation of a people's language and culture.

'One of the important topics of discussion is the legal regulation of traditional activities at the federal and regional level. Granting the status of agricultural producer to indigenous communities would remove all restrictions on the development of the traditional economy of indigenous peoples. We want reindeer herding, fishing, hunting and gathering to generate income so that the population has employment and traditional activities become profitable. Our aim today is to help the communities become economically self-sufficient units, and for them to take their place in the country's economy. It is vital for us to ensure free access to traditional resources, abolish declarative principles, unnecessary procedures, as well as provide opportunities to engage in traditional activities and at the same time develop the traditional economy,' Grigory Ledkov, President of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East, stated after the summit.

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