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The Horse of Sakha

Ethnic Symbol in Post-Communist Sakha Republic (Iakutiia)

Emilie Maj

This report is on contemporary processes related to horse breeding in Sakha (Iakutiia), northeastern Russia. I demonstrate the importance of the horse figure in the philosophy of the Sakha, a hunting and herding people of Siberia, as well as the parallelism between the diminishing utilitarian function of the horse and reinforcing symbolism in the post-communist context.

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Sakha Music Business

Mission, Contracts, and Social Relations in the Developing Post-Socialist Market Economy

Aimar Ventsel

This article is about the Sakha music business and the people involved in it. It discusses different strategies of making music and shows that different music genres have their own setting of social relations. Due to the specific economic and social situation, social relations in the music business are often informal. The classic theory of the cultural industry states that producing music is a calculated market economy-oriented activity. This article questions such an approach and shows that social and cultural ideas are present in the music-making process. The Sakha music business cannot be seen as only a profit-oriented sphere. Whereas producers and musicians are interested in formal, contract-based relations in purely economic cases, the informality maintains its importance. Ideas of solidarity and mutual support are linked to the perception of being in one music community, which uses different elements of Sakha culture in their music. As is demonstrated in the article, incorporation of Sakha motives is not only a marketing strategy but also a way for musicians and producers to act as carriers of the Sakha culture whose mission is to develop it.

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Sakha Community Leaders and Their Historical Mission

The Relevance of Soviet Ideology to Contemporary Sakha Politics

Eleanor Peers

This report presents an analysis of material from regional government-owned newspapers in the Republic of Sakha (Iakutiia). The analysis reveals a high level of respect for Sakha community leaders who regard the technological and industrial progress of the Sakha people as their main interest. The newspapers indicate tolerance for Sakha nationalism on the part of the republican government, even though this tolerance could jeopardize its relationship with the Russian Federation's central government.

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Ekaterina Chekhorduna, Nina Filippova, and Diana Efimova

Translator : Jenanne K. Ferguson

In the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), one of the promising areas of ethnocultural education over the past two decades has been the introduction of the Olonkho—the Sakha heroic epic—into the educational system. During this time, the pedagogy of the

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Zoya Tarasova

Sakha epic songs, collectively called olongkho, embody the Sakha people's religious and mythological traditions. The olongkhos recount fascinating and dramatic connections between humans and deities, and portray ancient Sakha rituals. This article examines the roles of female characters in the epic "N'urgun Bootur the Swift," recorded by Platon Oiunskii. Female roles in this epic include goddesses, female shamans (udaghan), abducted beauties (bride or sister of the hero), and female warriors. The article compares these roles to the historical image of women in past and present Sakha culture, and interprets the underlying message of the olongkho for today's generation.

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Aimar Ventsel

This field report summarizes an international interdisciplinary research project in Saidy, Republic of Sakha, in the Russian Far East. The aim of the research was to study ecological adaptations of communities in northern Sakha, combining methods of anthropology, archaeology, and ecology. Most indigenous communities in this region demonstrate a high level of self-organization—for example, forbidding sales of alcohol and transforming drinking to a hidden activity. These communities are actively engaged in the informal economy where officially unemployed people run informal grocery stores, hunting, and transport enterprises. Local practices are a mixture of Evenki and Sakha culture with emphasis on individualism. People in these communities are not nostalgic about Sovietera collective farms—something that is unusual in Siberia—and see current life as better than that in the Soviet era.

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Akulina Mestnikova

Translator : Jenanne K. Ferguson

On 27 September 2011 at the Sakha Republic’s public forum “The Spiritual Potential of Society in the Innovative Development of Yakutia,” the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) proclaimed the Declaration of the Spiritual Values of the Peoples of Yakutia

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Sensory Perception of Rock Art in East Siberia and the Far East

Soviet Archeological “Discoveries” and Indigenous Evenkis

Donatas Brandišauskas

whole up to the present time ( Brandišauskas 2017 ). 1 These sites can be seen as being linked to the ideas of animism as well as human interactions with spirits and animals (see Brandišauskas 2011 ). During my field research in the Republic of Sakha

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“Is It Bad That We Try to Speak Two Languages?”

Language Ideologies and Choices among Urban Sakha Bilingual Families

Jenanne Ferguson

This article discusses urban ethnic Sakha bilinguals and their language ideologies and choices, especially with regard to the language socialization of their children—both at home and within the educational system. The usage of the Sakha language within urban spaces has been on the rise in the post-Soviet years, but still tends to be acquired in the home environment as a first language, whereas Russian is acquired later in the public sphere and reinforced in the educational system. The article explores some of the ideological and structural barriers toward Sakha acquisition and maintenance that speakers face, with apprehension regarding bilingualism and the mastery of two languages in educational contexts being a key concern for many Sakha parents. The article also discusses language instruction—especially in schools—in light of the need to begin to accommodate those with little or no Sakha knowledge in order to continue to increase the usage of Sakha by urban speakers.

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The Alaas

Cattle Economy and Environmental Perception of Sedentary Sakhas in Central Yakuti

Csaba Mészáros

Thermokarst depressions in the permafrost environment of Yakutia (northeastern Siberia) provide fertile hayfields for Sakha cattle economy. These areas of open land in the boreal forest are called alaas in Sakha language. At this northern latitude cattle breeding is particularly in demand of nutritious fodder, because cows spend nine months on average in winter stables. Therefore alaases are the focus of Sakha environmental perception. Sakhas not only dwell in alaases, but through their economic activities, they modify and maintain them. This process is based on control and domination rather than on procurement of food by a “giving“ environment. Villagers in Tobuluk (central Yakutia) consider the areas surrounding their village as controlled islands of alaases (hayfields) in a sea of uncontrolled forest. This article examines Sakha environmental perception in which landscapes and cardinal directions evoke and define each other, and characterize those who reside there. Due to the subsequent transformations of Sakha economy and lifestyle by the Soviet and Russian state administration in the last 100 years (collectivization, centralization, and decollectivization) the way that Sakhas interact with their surroundings has transformed radically within the four generations causing profound differences in the way generations relate to, interact with, and understand alaases.