Iengra is located in the Neryungri district, a place of compact settlement of the Evenki indigenous minority. Its population is approximately 1,200 people, of which three quarters are Evenkis. Residents of the village are engaged in reindeer herding, game hunting and fur farming.
About 180 guests from Norway, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Taimyr, Chukotka and seven regions of Yakutia came to Iengra to participate in the first Arctic Skills event on April 3-4, 2018. The professional championship was held within the framework of the international workshop “Reindeer Husbandry – Basis for Indigenous Livelihoods in the Arctic”.
More than 60 young indigenous men and women took part in competitions in five categories: Reindeer Herder; Operation and Maintenance of Motor Vehicles and Generators; Lavvu Keeper; Designing a Reindeer Herding Camp, Lavvu Building; and Stroganina, frozen fish slicing. The competition concluded with reindeer races on the river with 48 reindeer herders competing.
We know that the Arctic is changing, and the Arctic needs youth who can handle many worlds and be keepers of both traditional and academic knowledge. More than 24 indigenous peoples have developed their unique economy based on reindeer, but face challenges due to loss of pastures, changes in biodiversity, loss of traditional knowledge, and lack of young professionals active in herding. Considering this, the Arctic Skills is an important initiative. The youth need an arena which emphasizes knowledge, and an arena where they can share their knowledge and get inspired by others who also value the reindeer. This way they will build confidence and have important roles in the development of their own societies.
Officials and academics gathered for a roundtable discussion during the Arctic Skills to share their overviews on rendeer husbandry and its state in the different regions, as well as on how education is provided for the reindeer herding youth. In their statement they recommend, for instance, to support the Arctic Skills initiative to include the traditional skills of reindeer herders and values of reindeer husbandry in education systems and training programs. They recognize that indigenous reindeer herders in the Circumpolar North need to improve their sustainability in local communities through product-based entrepreneurship and family-based economy using their traditional knowledge and skills. They also support the development of a new education system to preserve and use the reindeer herders’ traditional knowledge and to enhance their skills. In addition, one main outcome of the event was the decision to establish a UArctic Thematic Network within the UArctic EALÁT Institute to coordinate Arctic Skills cooperation between educational institutions of the Arctic.
Main Organizers of the Event
Government of Sakha Republic in cooperation with Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH), International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR), UArctic, UArctic EALÁT Institute, the Northern Forum, Arctic College for Indigenous Peoples of the North (Chersky, Russia), and Sámi High School and Reindeer Husbandry School (Kautokeino, Norway)
Winners in the Five Categories
Reindeer herder: 1st Aleksei Kolesov; 2nd Igor Kolesov; 3rd Nikolai Vasiliev. All three are Evenki herders from Iengra, Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
Operation and maintenance of motor vehicles and generators: 1st Vladimir Maksimov from Iengra, Sakha Republic (Yakutia); 2nd Petr Avelov from Aldan district, Sakha Republic (Yakutia); 3rd Artur Semenov from Iengra, Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
Designing of reindeer herding camp, lavvu building: 1st Aleksei Ukhsek from Chukotka; 2nd Andrey Schetinin from Iengra, Sakha Republic (Yakutia); 3rd Dmitriy Lebyodkin from Tyanya, Olekminskiy district, Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
Stroganina: 1st Stepan Tuprin from Yuryung Khaya, Anabar district, Sakha Republic (Yakutia); 2nd Artur Yaptune from Taymir; 3rd Vladimir Sirovatskiy from Chersky, Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
Lavvu keeper: 1st Anna Kolesova from Iengra, Sakha Republic (Yakutia); 2nd Aksinia Stolyarchik from Neryungri, Sakha Republic (Yakutia); 3rd Zhanna Tymnenkau from Yakutsk