Circumpolar civilization: geocultural approach

Circumpolar area of habitation of a man is localized around the North Pole that connects through seas three oceans. Circumpolar area occupies territories вдоль Arctic ocean, Greenland, north-west and north-east coasts of Atlantic ocean, occupied European countries, Canada and the USA and also north-east and north-west coasts of the Pacific ocean, occupied by Russia and the USA. Circumpolar relations develop from year to year, circumpolar flights are created, the Arctic sea route is recovering and developing, scientific research of flora, fauna, ice, the continental shelf, ecology are held, etc. Conferences on circumpolar health and economic relations are held. International organizations of indigenous peoples are created, for example Interantional organization of Innuits. Circumpolar world the key point in preserving ecology of the planet and understands now it’s role in stable development of life on the planet. Potential of the civilizational mechanism is focused on the ways of merging people and nature. In this plan circumpolar countries possess energy of sociocultural stability and development, that is rooted in diverse cultural heritage of indigenous peoples of these territories. the term “civilization” in this project we use in its broad sense. Toynbi in his works outlines 24 types of civilization. We consider that the one he calls «задержанный» civilization is the one that can be attached to peoples of the circumpolar North.

Here we, as citizens of the circumpolar North can agree only with that part of his theory that concerns ancient times. The fact is that history of the citizens put all countries except Russia on the forefront of the list of countries with the highest level of life. All the researches of this severe part of world, covered with ice and permafrost pointed out exceptional intellectual and spiritual resources of indigenous peoples, who managed to find the mechanisms of co-evolution with nature.
The core foundation of circumpolar civilization is commitment to a culture of peace, nonviolence, a focus on human life, the identity of ethnic groups in historical continuity. The main mechanism of interaction is a dialogue that can be seen, above all in preservation of the common language of Inuit living on opposite sides of the circumpolar world, the language of the Finno-Ugric people, uniting language of Scandinavian Sami people (Sami call their ancestral lands - Saarmi) with language of Yukagirs in Kolyma Yakutia and the Magadan region (Russia), etc. And, probably, the preservation of these mechanisms of horizontal intra-interactions in modern geoculture made it possible to create stable high quality of life in a globalizing environment livelihoods. Civilization, created by the countries situated around the North Pole can be called circumpolar civilization.

According to American scholar A. Sliozkin, ethnographers interested in the indigenous peoples of the North only as remnants of the prehistoric period, as the inhabitants of ethnographic - that is, nonhistorical time and as the «tribes of the low stage of barbarism». ("Arctic mirrors. Russia and the small peoples of the North", Moscow, 2008. - 506 c.) In the process of socialist transformation, Soviet Arctic peoples went from barbarism to civilization very quickly, and civilization meant the vertical mobility in the humanitarian sphere and the establishment of a modest social infrastructure. At the time of the industrialization of the Soviet Union, the small peoples of the Arctic were economically "unviable", and the life they created was the last vestige of value except as items of ethnographic museums.

The fate of the Arctic peoples caught up in different countries of the circumpolar region, depends on the policy of the country towards indigenous peoples. Valuable experience in the Nordic countries and Canada is accumulated, scientific researches, ethno-cultural centers, modern museums for preservation and promotion of linguistic and cultural diversity of indigenous peoples are established. Life of Arctic indigenous peoples remains a poorly studied and one of the phenomenas of human life in extreme cold conditions. Isolated on the vast territories of the Arctic region, the most ancient peoples of Earth have created a circumpolar civilization with common parameters of cultural survival in the permafrost and is characterized by unity of diverse ethnic communities.

Characteristic features of circumpolar civilization is the existence of geo-cultural values created in the permafrost zone: ideas of antropokosmotsentrizm, that takes into account the dynamics of the "man-society-biosphere" as a combination of environmental and cultural biodiversity and balance of life on earth, consolidating beginning as center of attraction of historical memory and experience of interaction and trade-offs for the North-South ─ East-West axis tolerance, environmental friendliness, humanistic interactions with nature - the principle of harmonious co-existence is still in demand in today's value of Arctic development, the principle of indissoluble biological and cultural diversity of life support, manifested in the structure of human settlement and the sparing use of natural resources. The experience of successfully developing countries in the Arctic (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, Iceland) shows that they have to adopt geo-cultural values of indigenous peoples and used them as principles of a welfare society in in the conditions of cold areas. Thus, they reach agreement among the various types of cultural and civilizational systems in a specific territory. The peoples of Russia in the Arctic live in a state of violation of social and environmental justice and are torn between the value of extraction of natural resources, destroying the biosphere and the sustainability of the environment, significance of human life and dignity of ethnic communities in the territory.

Topical issue of studying culture is the contradiction in which process of overcoming the formation of civilization happens. This process is the complex and dynamic relationship between the main passage of the "majority" and the alternative movements of various "minority" that influence and enrich each other, allow society to develop, keeping the "core" of culture that gives impuls for beginning of a qualitatively new stage of development. As D. Zamyatin pointed out, the use of images and concepts geokracy - one of the few methodological chances to generate independent ideological discourse of non-Western or peripheral civilizations, whose historiosophical fate against the backdrop of globalization, Glocalisation, multiculturalism is very problematic.(Замятин Д. Н. Геократия. Евразия как образ, символ и проект российской цивилизации./Полис,№1,2009).
Today we are experiencing the type of social development, that is known as "changing type of socio-cultural inheritance", that is change of method of determination of human life that happened because of the change in relation to historical tradition. An intensive process of formation of new types of communities and activities, of their social, cultural design and interpenetration leads to the creation of a fundamentally new multidimensional polycivilizational space that defines the problem of identification in different activities and different types of socio-cultural relations at the same time. This moment offers a chance to Arctic peoples to join the global world as bearers of a special type of human civilization.
Today, samples of the oldest cultures of Arctic peoples are stored in different museums of the world and represent the cultural values of mankind. Development of informational society and the culture of globalization creates opportunities for the open world culture, which disappears when the unique cultural identities can be shared with modern people and get resources for preservation and development.

International project "Circumpolar civilization in the world museums: yesterday, today, tomorrow" began in accordance with the agreement of the UNESCO Office in Moscow with "Arctic State Institute of Arts and Culture" on the 3d of March, 2009. Project started at the meeting of the National Committee for UNESCO of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), led by Vice-Chairman of the Federation Council of Federal Assembly of Russia Mikhail E. Nikolaev on 26th of June, 2008 in Yakutsk. The meeting was attended by the Head of the Department - Levi-Strauss, the leading specialist of the UNESCO Office in Moscow - LM Moreva, Vice-President of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), EI Mikhailova, and other interested parties. (Specify)

The main ideas of the project:

1. The unity of the present-past-future.
2. Museums as repositories of cultural memory must be activated in the coming change in the type of socio-cultural inheritance through spiritual values ecobalanced coexistence.
3. Demandant unifying and ethno-cultural functions of museums is increased when using information and communication technologies.
4. There is a local type of human civilization - the circumpolar bearing spiritual values ecobalanced future of mankind.
In 1926, the Central Executive Committee of the RSFSR Decree "On establishment of the temporary provisions on the management of native peoples and tribes of the northern outskirts of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic" were first identified 26 Indigenous Peoples of Russia: the Sami, Nenets, Khanty, Mansi, Enets, Dolgan, Nganasans, Selkup, Ket, Evenki, Yukagirs, Evens, Chukchi, Koryak, Eskimo, Aleut, Itelmen Tofalars, Ulchi, Nanai, Nivkhs, Udege, Negidals, Orok, orochi, Chuvans.

Furthermore, in accordance with our understanding of the circumpolar civilization, we include in the list of peoples of Russia's Arctic peoples of Sakha, Komi, Russian old-timers and other nations over several centuries of living at high latitudes of the planet. In the second phase of the project all the peoples of the circumpolar Arctic will also be include.
By the time of the presentation of the portal (August-October 2009) relevant materials in quantities greater than 250 digital photographs of artifacts from the collections of 15 ethnographic, natural history and art museums of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) were collected. Description of museum artifacts in Russian was produced and then translated into English. More than 650 pages of text in Russian and more than 200 pages of text in English were digitized and entered in the appropriate column of the portal. Products for 2 hours of playing time were digitized and entered in the appropriate column of the portal multimedia. Catalog and multimedia CD with the same name were issued.
We are inviting you for co-operation!
The head of the project Vinokurova U.A. Doctor of sociological sciences, professor of the Arctic State Institute of Art and Culture
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Executive Committee on the Establishment of the Temporary Law on the Adm. of Native Peoples and Tribes of the N Periphery of RSFSR for the first time singled out 26 indig. small nations of the Rus. N: Saami, Nenetses, Khants, Mansis, Enetses, Dolgans, N’ganasans, Selkups, Kets, Evenks, Yukagirs, Evens, Chukchi, Koryaks, Eskimos, Aleuts, Itelmens, Tofalars, Ulchas, Nanais, Nivkhs, Udegeys, Negidals, Ulta, Oroches, Chuvans. In 1993 this list was suppl. with Todzhins, Shors, Teleuts, and Kumandins, and later with oth. p. All these p. were singled out as spec. gr. on the basis of their small numbers, nomadic or semi-nomadic way of life, trad. occupations (reindeer herding, hunting, fishing, marine mammal hunting, gathering), unique cult., and way of life. These peoples reside in the area stretching from the Kola Pen. to Chukotka, in 20 rep., terr., and obl., and in 7 aut. areas.

The first reliable data about the number and distrib. of the INSPN was gathered during the first universal census in 1897. In 1926-27 an extended sub-polar census was conducted; the further all-Union censuses (of 1959, 1970, 1979, 1989) carried less information about the INSPN.
Acc. to the 1989 census, the INSPN comprised only 1.2% of the Rus. pop. Indig. N ethnic gr. also have become minorities due to the inflow of migrants (Rus., Ukrainians, Belorussians, Tatars, etc.) on the terrs. of their historical residence.

From 1897 to 1989, the number of INSPN grew by 123%, while the the total pop. of Rus. increased by 118%; acc. to the 2002 census, their numbers have gone up by 117% since 1989. These nations are charact. by high birth and death rates. However, the adoption of govt. measures to provide support and medical aid to the indigenous pop. of the N has helped reduce their death rate almost to the av. Rus. figure. The birth rate remains high despite a tendency for reduction. There is no regularity in the higher death rate, which exceeds the birth rate for any ethnic gr., but there is a significant diff. in the pop. growth for various gr. The number of Nenetses and Evenks has gone up, while the numbers of Saami, Kets, Selkups has remained stable (see Demographic Processes in Indigenous Numerically Small Peoples of the North).

Distribution of the INSPN:
Aleuts—Kamchatka Obl. (60.6%).
Chukchi—Chukotka Aut. Area (78.5%), Magadan Obl. (4.2%); Kamchatka Obl. (10.1%, incl. Koryak Aut. Area with 9.6%).
Chuvans—Chukotka Aut. Area (68.2%), Magadan Obl. (3.0%).
Dolgans—Krasnoyarsk Terr. (78.6%), incl. Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Aut. Area (71.1%).
Enetses—Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Aut. Area (52.0%).
Evenks—Krasnoyarsk Terr. (14.5%), incl. Evenk Aut. Area (11.5%), Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Aut. Area (1.0%); Irkutsk
Obl. (4.5%); Chita Obl. (4.2%); Sakha Rep. (Yakutia) (47.8%); Buryatia Rep. (4.2%); Khabarovsk Terr. (12.2%); Amur Obl. (5.4%).
Evens—Sakha Rep. (50.4%); Magadan Obl. and Chukotka Aut. Area (14.1%); Khabarovsk Terr. (11.3%); Kamchatka Obl. (8.7%), incl. Koryak Aut. Area (4.1%).
Eskimos—Chukotka Aut. Area (84.5%), Magadan Obl. (4.6%).
Itelmens—Kamchatka Obl. (58.1%), incl. Koryak Aut. Area (47.5%); Magadan Obl., and Chukotka Aut. Area (40.6%).
Kets—Krasnoyarsk Terr. (89.3%), incl. Evenk Aut. Area (16%).
Khants—Tyumen Obl. (90.5%), incl. Khant-Mansi Aut. Area (52.8%), Yamal-Nenets Aut. Area (32.2%); Tomsk Obl.
Koryaks—Kamchatka Obl. (77.8%), incl. Koryak Aut. Area (71.1%); Magadan Obl. and Chukotka Aut. Area (11.0%).
Kumandins—Altai Terr.
Mansis—Tyumen Obl. (85.8%), incl. Khanty-Mansi Aut. Area (77.4%), Yamal-Nenets Aut. Area (2.5%).
Nanais—Khabarovsk Terr. (88.0%), Primorye Terr. (3.5%).
N’ganasans—Krasnoyarsk Terr. (89.4%), incl. Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Aut. Area (67.3%).
Negidals—Khabarovsk Terr. (85.5%).
Nenetses—Arkhangelsk Obl. (20.7%), incl. Nenets Aut. Area (18.5%); Murmansk Obl. (0.5%); Yamal-Nenets Aut. Area
(60.3%); Khant-Mansi Aut. Area (3.3%); Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Aut. Area (7.1%).
Nivkhs—Khabarovsk Terr. (51.1%), Sakhalin Obl. (43.0%).
Oroches—Khabarovsk Terr. (56.5%), Sakhalin Obl. (24.0%).
Saami—Murmansk Obl. (88.0%).
Selkups—Tyumen Obl. (45.2%), incl. Yamal-Nenets Aut. Area (42.4%); Tomsk Obl. (37.3%), Krasnoyarsk Terr. (10.2%).
Shors—Kemerovo Obl., small number in Khakasia Rep and Altai Rep.
Teleuts—Kemerovo Obl., small number in Altai Terr. and Altai Rep.
Tofalars—Irkutsk Obl. (87.3%).
Todzhins—Tyva Rep.
Udegeys—Primorye Terr. (38.1%), Khabarovsk Terr. (34.7%).
Ulchas—Khabarovsk Terr. (84.5%).
Ulta—Sakhalin Obl. (72.1%).
Yukagirs—Sakha Rep. (62.7%); Chukotka Aut. Area and Magadan Obl. (20.5%).

Small N ethnic gr. are endangered: the borders of the areas with their trad. use of land have been violated, and the normal continuity broken in the passing of adaptive skills from parents to their children. Their living space is decreasing in the course of ind. exploitation of the N, and the processes of acculturation and assimilation are gaining momentum. In the majority of the INSPN the native tongues are used by less than 25-30% and sometimes only 3-5% (Evenks, Chukchi, Koryaks) of their representatives. Only in the Kumandin, Dolgan, Selkup, Teleut, and Todzhin gr. do more than 35-40% speak their native tongue at home.

The majority of indig. N peoples live in the countryside, incl. more than 80% of Nenetses, Evenks, Evens, Chukchi, Koryaks, and many oths., and abt half of Mansis, Nivkhs, Chuvans, and Oroches. (Ulta are mainly urban residents.) All retain some trad. types of ec. activ.

In the USSR, the use of land and the ec. of the N ethnic gr. underwent transformation as the result of the collectivization of the 1930-40s, of nationalization of farms in the 1950-60s, and of the growth of settl. and the ind. exploitation of N terr. in the 1970-80s. The integration of trad. N ec. into the “large” ec. of the country did not bring about radical changes in the activ. of most N p. (see Economy of Northern Peoples). After 1990, when the state stopped imposing sedentary ways of life on nomadic pop., the number of nomads increased. Limits on the number of livestock that could be owned by indig. N p. were also expanded, and resolutions were adopted transferring the use of land to separate fam. and clan communities.