The organisation, the Union of Reindeer Breeders of Yakutia was created on the initiative of its Chairman (Yu.I. Sleptsov) and representatives of ‘numerically-small’ indigenous peoples of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) on 29 August 1999. The objective of the Union is the protection of primordial settlement, and preservation and development of traditional ways of life, crafts and cultures of these indigenous peoples of the North. The Union was created to strengthen the unity of representatives of the indigenous peoples in dealing with social and economic problems, and also in developing participation in local self-management of the indigenous residence areas. Expansion of inter-ethnic communications between Northern indigenous peoples and other peoples of the world was a further aim.
The basic purposes of the Union are:
to promote social, economic and cultural development of the indigenous peoples of the North;
to protect the continuous residence of these peoples on their primordial lands (nature protection), their traditional ways of life and traditional kinds of nature management;
to restore stocks of domestic reindeer;
to promote experiences from conducting traditional management in different regions of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russia and abroad under free market conditions;
to advertise the traditional way of life of numerically-small indigenous peoples and members of the Union of Reindeer Breeders of Yakutia through printed publications, cinema, photo, audio, and video productions;
to render required legal and other help in the framework of the legislation of the Russian Federation;
to search for and introduce new ways of nature management based on traditional ways of life of the indigenous peoples, taking into account the legislation of the Russian Federation;
to organise annual children's camps with various themes, including ethnographical and ecological topics.
Hence, the organisation works directly to enhance life, traditional management and protection of rights for Northern indigenous peoples in Yakutia.
The Union organise nomadic camps such as the ethnographic camp “Neltenke” (Even: “Sun”), which has been working since 2000, where children study the Even language. Participants in the ecological camp “Raduga” (Even: “Rainbow”), created in 2001, travel on a certain route. Findings made by the participants - such as that of an entire fossil rhinoceros – have gained much interest from palaeontologists.
In 2002, in the territory of the Momsk National Nature Park, the Union organised the ethno-ecological camp “Garpanga”, which was to study Even language, culture and natural biodiversity. Geobotanists from the Institute of Cryo-Lithozone Studies at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Yakut State University became interested in the results of the field work. The Ministry of Wildlife Management of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is planning an expedition to study the radiation from the uranium deposits Sugun and Boruluolakh and in the Sasyr area of the Momsk region during the next years, based on results from the camp “Garpanga”. Participants in the camp took practical measures for the protection of the Momsk National Nature Park. Scientists also have expressed their desire to participate in the nature protection activities of our Union and to contribute to preservation of the cultural heritage of the Northern indigenous peoples.
The Union of Reindeer Breeders of Yakutia has accumulated experience in fundraising for projects:
2000 - a grant from the Ministry of Affairs of Peoples and Federal Attitudes of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) for the project “Ethnographic nomad camp ‘Neltenke’”;
2001 - a grant from the Ministry of Wildlife Management of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) on the project “Ecological camp ‘Maranga’”;
2002 - a grant from the Khyuletta Fund’s programme ISAR – Far East;
2003 – a reward from the Ford Motor Company in the field of preservation of cultural-historical values.
All activities of the Union are widely reflected in the mass media of Yakutia and the Far East. The idea of nomadic camps for children of Northern indigenous peoples is also established among Evens in the Magadan area and among Saami in the Murmansk area. The experiences of our Union are communicated to other regions through RAIPON.
On 27 May 2004 a cooperation agreement was signed in Vladivostok between the Association of Northern Indigenous People of the Primorskiy Kray and the open joint company “Terneyles”, one of the largest timber industry enterprises of the Russian Far East.
The agreement states the obligation to observe international principles and standards concerning the rights of indigenous people. This is of prime significance for the movement of the Northern indigenous peoples in Russia, because an industrial company wants not only to cooperate within the framework of its activities, but also to contribute on the whole to a development programme for the indigenous peoples of Primore.
The Kumandins are one of the most ancient Turkic-speaking peoples in Southern Siberia. According to the last census of 2002 their number is 1250.
The present governor of the Altai Territory, M.S. Evdokimov, is a native of the area and is therefore familiar with the problems of the Kumandin people, not just by hearsay but through first-hand experience. He considered questions of revival of the traditional economic activities and culture at a meeting on 20 May 2004 with leaders of the Kumandin people: G.A. Satlaevym, chairman of the Union of Kumandin Associations and L.P. Mamedragimovoy, head of the public organisation “Kumandin Revival” in Biyskoy.
This meeting resulted from work aimed at Kumandin revival led by the board of public counsellors of the chapter of the territory administration under the presidency of A.V. Osipov and the deputy head of the administration, Dr. soc. sci., professor S.I. Grigorev. The meeting resulted in a joint concept of development for the Kumandin people within the framework of the Federal Target Program of Economic and Social Development of the Peoples of the North. The programme, which is to last until 2011, was given a governmental status. It was also agreed that the Kumandins would gain ethnic-cultural autonomy.