Dzhuliiana Semenova

The Arctic and circumpolar regions throughout the world are home to many ethnic groups with diverse cultural practices and long histories that have been wounded by imperialistic invasions for centuries. Still situated within complicated politics of place, Indigenous peoples have found their own unique ways of connecting to one another under the changing circumstances. One of such places is the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) – a self-governed region of Russia inhabited by Native peoples of Far Eastern Siberia. After gaining sovereignty (1990) and electing the first Sakha president (1991), the issue of reviving self-consciousness and self-identification of the peoples became acute and a great number of initiatives have been created to support these ideas through education, culture, language, law, economy, research and art. However, consequences of globalization along with state decisions on support of primarily economic well-being of the region may lead to commodification of culture and contribute to complication of the processes of supporting socio-cultural agency. Nevertheless, there are several initiatives that ground themselves in Indigenous self-determination, have critical viewpoints regarding relevance of Western paradigms in local contexts, and attempt to avoid cultural oppression. What role does cultural identity play in shaping ethical relationships? How can cultural participation support decolonization of place? And what can we learn from these civic initiatives to move towards a viable future in the Arctic and circumpolar regions?

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