Peoples of the North and their culture

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Peoples of the North and their culture
Peoples of the North and their culture

Earlier, ethnologists counted up to 45 different peoples living in a harsh climate in the North. They live in small groups, each with their own language, traditions and religious beliefs.

Who are the northern peoples?

The concept of "peoples of the North" is increasingly diluted with the word "small". According to official data, those are considered to be those whose number of representatives does not exceed the threshold of 50,000 people. However, then those who nevertheless exceeded this figure, but live in the North, honor the ancient traditions of their ancestors, and also profess the same religion, will not be able to get into the lists. If we consider the peoples of the Far North only in terms of their small numbers, the Komi, Karelians and Yakuts will have to be thrown out of the list. These are fairly large groups.

peoples of the north

Legislative justification

In 1995, for the first time, a more ordered list of ethnic groups and peoples of the North was published, which not only live in this part of Russia, but also retain their cultural and everyday traditions. It includes both Komi and Yakuts, who are engaged in reindeer breeding. All of them live in a localized small area, differ in their activities and are part of a large ethnic subdivision. Researchers constantly talk about the peoples of the North and Siberia, becausethose lands are inhabited by a few groups of Russians.

In 1999, special nationalities were given an additional definition. The peoples of the North were recognized as those who live in their territory, where their ancestors once settled, have their own language, keep traditions, use the same types of food and number less than fifty thousand people. In fact, scientists crossed out about 30% of ethnic groups.

peoples of the far north

In 2000, for the first time, all the small peoples of the North were included in one official document. The list includes 45 ethnic groups known to this day. Each of them lives on their own territory, is engaged in certain crafts, while contacting with the rest of the population of the Russian Federation, as a rule, through trade. At the same time, their cultural characteristics are preserved and transmitted as the we alth of their ancestors.

Almost seventeen of those listed have no more than 1,500 members.

The peoples of the North are very careful about the environment. They try to develop the surrounding nature, causing it minimal harm.

Many of them had to change their habitat in the course of history, but usually their ethnic environment changed at the same time.


For a long time the peoples of the North only exchanged with each other. They gave away surplus goods and took what they needed. They exchanged goods for everyday use, as well as various fertilizers, fossils, and so on.

In ancient times, they passed each other even flint, from whichcreated tools for hunting.

The main fisheries for most of these peoples are:

  • reindeer herding;
  • fishing;
  • gathering;
  • gardening.
small peoples of the north

Many have a system of seasonal migrations, during which hunting trips are made or trade with other inhabitants of these lands.

The Great Migration

The peoples of the North were significantly modified after the glaciers began to melt 10,000 years ago. During this phenomenon, part of the local ethnic group, which used to live in the central or even southern part of the country, migrated to the northern territories.

They can be identified by language groups:

  • Evens, Dolgans, Evenks and many other peoples of the Far North belong to the Turkic and Tungus-Manchurian group;
  • Nenets, Nganasans, Selkups and Enets belong to the community of Samoyedic languages;
  • Yukaghirs to Paleo-Asiatic, combining everything that the peoples of the North and the Far East brought to their culture;
  • Khanty, Saami and Mansi to a separate group of Finno-Ugric languages.

Yukaghir rock paintings were found in the Angara mountains. And now they all live in the northern part of Russia. Many ended up in the Arctic.

indigenous peoples of the north

Over time, the language and even the appearance of the nomads changed. Their body has adapted to endure persistent frosts.

Culture of the peoples of the North

The culture of each ethnic group is unique and inimitable.Despite the small number, the ethnic population learns the languages ​​of their ancestors and preserves cultural traditions.

Each dialect spoken by a particular nationality is divided into several different subspecies.

For example, the Chukchi have about five different dialects. Each of which is characteristic of a certain area in which they live.


Indigenous peoples of the North carefully preserve ancient legends passed down from generation to generation. Their legends can be regarded as a unique cultural phenomenon. Researchers are still recording all the plots from the stories retold by the northern peoples. With the help of them, you can understand exactly what processes happened to these people over the course of many centuries.

peoples of the north and siberia

Traditional holidays are observed from year to year throughout the history of the tribe, having evolved somewhat. Song traditions, music, dance - all of them are still preserved by local communities.

Material Culture

Specific ornaments on clothes serve as a dividing feature for each nation. Also often on the traditional clothes of the northerners there are scenes from their lives, images of their ancestors. You can see water motifs on the dresses of those ethnic groups that are engaged in fishing as the main industry. Images of deer appear at reindeer herders.

Each of the ethnic groups is characterized by their dwellings, built for the place of residence, working conditions. Nomadic tribes usually build temporary structures thatcan be easily disassembled in order to move to another place.

peoples of the north and far east

As for nutrition, the peoples of the North still have a traditional way of preserving food - drying them. This allows us to replace our usual refrigerator. For example, drying reindeer meat, fish, various berries, mushrooms, and herbs is widespread in most areas of Northern Russia.

Basically, representatives of these ethnic groups are engaged in a raw food diet. They do not cook meat or berries, fish or herbs, preferring to eat them raw. Naturally, this is possible due to the fact that the temperature rarely rises above zero.


In the north of Russia there were neither Christians, nor Muslims, nor anyone else. It is for this reason that primitive beliefs have been preserved here. This is of great interest to scientists and theologians. The views of the local population are fundamentally different from those of other peoples.

Shamans are still held in high esteem. These respected people are the conductors between the world of spirits and the human environment. They function as psychologists, doctors and religious guides.

culture of the peoples of the north

According to the indigenous population, nature is a living organism. Everything around has a soul and can both help and harm. It is for this reason that all the peoples of the North revere the spirits of animals, forests, mountains and plants. Ancestors deserve special respect. With due regard, they will certainly help their relatives. In addition, it is they who store all the experience,who acquired the genus during its existence.

Interestingly, the shamanism of the North has nothing to do with the culture of the Indians. If we draw a parallel, then it will be closer to the frightening voodoo. But, unlike the latter, shamans use their knowledge exclusively for good.

Historical background

Many believe that the cradle of the entire population of the Earth is Mesopotamia and the state of the Sumerians. There is an opinion that mankind originated in Egypt. Perhaps the first people began to explore China or India. However, no one can say for sure.

But there is every reason to believe that Russia also claims the status of one of the most ancient states. Northern peoples lived here as early as 9,000 years ago. Rather, the found tools and household items allow us to talk about this. It is possible that older evidence has simply not yet been found.

The Yukaghirs are of particular interest in this regard. This nation is considered the oldest and its roots can go back to the mythical Hyperboreans. According to another version, their ancestors should be considered the Chukchi, since their way of life is ideally suited for the Arctic. In addition, they are far ahead of other tribes in terms of technology.

If we talk about the youngest small people of the North, these are the Tazis. This ethnic group was formed only in the middle of the 19th century, when the Russian tsars actively began to develop the lands of Ussuriysk. The assimilation of several different nationalities (Nanai, Udege, Chinese), who found themselves in isolation, led to the emergence of a new group.

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