ABSTRACT: In 2005, during a visit to northern Buryatia to explore Evenk views regarding a the Eastern Siberian Pacific Ocean Pipeline, which was at that time slated to cut
through their homelands, ethnographer Anna Sirina and I were taken on a guided walk to visit the “Tree of Memory” (Derevo pamyati). This tree is located some 14 kilometers
up the “Ecological Path” (ekologicheskaya tropa) from the Evenk village of Kholodnaya.
In this talk I explore how the Tree of Memory, the Ecological Path, and our carefully choreographed journey along it, were used to assert Evenk rights to this territory to a wider world, in a particularly Evenk manner. Through the Path and the Tree, the Evenks of this region are resisting the place-annihilation that is being effected by both resource development and the less direct but still detrimental effects of declining place-based knowledge of the landscape among the local Evenks. Moreover, the local Kindigir (clan) are engaging in a contested politics of place, claiming their priority rights to this
territory as the original Evenks of this region, rights challenged other local Evenks. By performing a landscape of Path and Tree, for visitors from afar, Kindigir elders manipulated the memories of indigenous pasts (both pre-Soviet and Soviet) to communicate Kindigir/Evenk belonging, instruct in Evenk landscape, assert rights at two scales (clan and people), and emphasize Evenk persistence and revival.
Author: Gail Fondahl is a professor of Geography of the University of Northern British Columbia, and has acted as her University's vice-rector for many years. She currently also serves as the President of IASSA, the International Arctic Social Sciences Association. Her background is in human cultural social geography.
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Gail Fondahl speaking at Arctic Centre, 13 Nov, 2012
Mon, Nov 12, 2012
Prof Gail Fondahl (University of Northern British Columbia, Canada, and President, International Arctic Social Sciences Association) will present a guest lecture, "Reflections on a Visit to the ‘Tree of Memory’: Evenki land rights, territoriality and resource development in Siberia." in the Borealis lecture room of the Arctic Centre (University of Lapland) on Nov 13 at 1000.