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Chukchi People of Russia

The Chukchi Peninsula was once home to a variety of native people such as Korvaks, Eskimos and the Chukchi People. Bordering this peninsula is the Bering Strait, the Chukchi Sea and the Bering Sea, with Uelen being the nearest village. In the year 1990, it is estimated that a hundred and fifty-five thousand people populated the peninsula. The biggest industries in the area are fishing, mining, hunting and reindeer raising. There are still populations of Chukchi living on the Chukchi Peninsula, who originated from the Okhorsk Sea and communicate in the traditional Chukchi language.

The migration of the Chukchi was documented by Spencer Wells (an American geneticist), and shows that the group was following the herds of reindeer from Central Asia to the Chukchi Peninsula. It is believed that a group of Chukchi, as small as twenty individuals, migrated an estimated thirteen thousand years ago across the Bering Sea, moving into North America, and from there moved as far as South America. The name Chukchi is derived from the Russian word Chauchu, which is translated to "Rich In Reindeer", distinguishing their tribe from coastal tribes, which are referred to as the Anqullyt. There only approximately fifteen thousand Chukchi in the world today, and in Russia, they can be found in the Chukota Autonomous Okryg, with others spread in different regions.

As mentioned before, the Chukchi People are also divided into two different tribes. One group resides along the coastline and are maritime Chukchi, or Anqullyt, who live off the ocean; while the other live more inland, where tundra regions provide ideal habitat for their reindeer, and are therefore referred to as Reindeer Chukchi. They are a very spiritual tribe, and every item or object represents a spirit. Due to humanitarian aid, the Chukchi, as well as other rural communities, were able to survive, and many went on to secure university degrees, contributing to the country as doctors, poets, writers and even politicians.

The garments worn by the Chukchi tells a lot about the individual. They generally wear khonbas that are made from reindeer fur and believe that the tattoos placed on their bodies will ward off evil spirits and protect them from sterility. Other items such as beads and bracelets can show that an individual has had contact with traders and other industries. The Chukchi people are an ancient civilization that has survived the ages, and are vital to the history of Russia.


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