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?
Karolina Sikora & Maria Fedina
Izvatas are a separate group of the Finno-Ugric Komi people, dispersedly inhabiting the vast territories of the Russian North. In the 1920s the policy of ’korenizacija’ aimed at unifying all the Komi people by downplaying the groups’ diversity. As a result, 70 years later the apparent consolidation deprived the Izvatas of the possibility to acquire the status of an Indigenous small-numbered people. The greater prevalance of the Izhma Komi ethnic identity in the early 2000s revealed the ambivalence in self-description as a group, both internally and externally. While some Izvatas have identified themselves as a northern subgroup of the Komi Zyryan people, others have been claiming their ethnic distinctiveness. At the same time, the mere belonging to the group has been contested as well. Recognising the phenomenon of fluid, blended and multiple ethnicities, none of these perspectives can be dismissed and thus need to be perceived as valid. In this paper, we analyse the meaning of the “Lud” festival tradition for constructing and representing Izvatas’ distinct, yet unified, identity across the group divide. In this context, we argue that the recognition of the “Lud” celebration as the cultural heritage of Izhma Komi can facilitate the recognition of the community as such. In the end, we demonstrate that cultural heritage listings may become a valid tool for the wider cultural and political self-determination interests of Izvatas.
This article presents research on the oral narration context and content of Yoik, the traditional Sámi acapella form of singing. The Sámi people are recognized as Indigenous in northern Fennoscandia. Although yoik has been brought into the modern world through combining with music forms such as rap and country, yoik traditionally was created and performed by individuals who imparted their own experiences of people, animals, and places on their narratives. For it to conform to its traditional form, yoik can never be taken out of its original context, because outside of that context the narrative becomes something else, only text, taking on new connections. The word yoik is used as if it were a verb, which comes from the north Sámi word juoigat. To yoik is to express yourself verbally with song or speech; one yoiks a song that is to say a vuolle, vuölle, vuelie, or luohti. The differences between what one calls songs is only geographical. In the Scandinavian languages the word yoik has also become a substantive noun, nominative, one talks about the wolf’s yoik, person’s yoik, and so on. Every individual has its own song, but you cannot create it yourself, it has to be given to you. Animals do, as well, have their own songs. Some sing them with characteristics; you have to be the animal you are describing in the song. Landscape is a third theme that has to be described. Sometimes these themes are intertwined, which is what professor Israel Ruong calls ‘complex yoik’ (Arnberg et al, 1997).
The article gives an overview of the concepts of “feeling of place”, “place attachment” and “sense of security” in phenomenological tradition in the fields of geography, psychology, and culture studies. The author demonstrates the utility ofthe drawing method in the interpretation of "sense of security" in relation not only to specific places, but to the entire urban environment. The results of the study among the children and teenagers from Tornio (Finland), Haparanda (Sweden), Nikel (Russia) and Kirkenes (Norway) are presented. The study was based on an anonymous questionnaire with open-ended questions and children’s drawings. A total of 56 questionnaires in Nikel, 33 in Haparanda, 35 in Tornio and six in Kirkenes were collected between 2015 and 2020. The schoolchildren were asked if they considered their cities clean, safe, and friendly. The questionnaire also included questions about specific places in the cities that the children and teenagers associated with the feelings of interest, joy, comfort, pride, anxiety, sorrow, disgust, and shame.
The study identified the criteria of a secure urban environment, the most important of which being a “feeling at home”. This was reflected in the drawings of places triggering positive emotions of comfort, joy, interest (emotopias of peace and activity). It was proven that negative emotions such as sorrow in connection with cemeteries, shame and disgust in connection with dirty and polluted places do not diminish the sense of security among schoolchildren, as opposed to anxiety (dark places, abandoned buildings). The obtained results were visualized by means of interactive emotion maps.