In recent decades the number of domestic reindeer stock across indigenous communities in the Siberian taiga have fallen dramatically. While this has been viewed as a crisis, this paper discusses how reindeer herders are adjusting their traditional herding strategies to modern conditions. A methodology of contextualization is used to evaluate five reindeer herders’ communities situated in different regions of Eastern Siberia. Changes in Siberian reindeer herding are analyzed according to three main types of contexts differing as to the period of their formation: a) traditional contexts that pre-existed the Soviet system, b) contexts formed in the Soviet time; and c) contexts created by post-Soviet reforms. Under modern conditions reindeer stock reduction is important relative to the economic context, but the role of reindeer herding in cultural and political contexts is increasing. The slow formation of “buffer” social contexts makes the taiga reindeer herding communities’ condition vulnerable.
Konstantin B. Klokov
In the 1990s, dramatic socio-economic changes caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union greatly impacted reindeer husbandry across Russia. The overall decline of reindeer population at the federal level can be directly linked to economic reforms, which affected all branches of the economy. However, different local herding communities adopted different strategies, which resulted in various and even contradictory trends of reindeer numbers at the regional level. This article analyzes this diversity using statistics from the federal, regional, and local levels, and interviews with herders in different northern regions.
Konstantin B. Klokov and Sergey A. Khrushchev
This article surveys the population dynamics of twenty-six indigenous small-numbered peoples of the Russian North, using the data from eight General Censuses of Russia (1897-2002), and the Polar Census of 1926/27. The article demonstrates that each of these peoples responded to central state policies in diverse ways, and that often different populations of the same group showed differing trends in different regions. During the Soviet period there was strong assimilative pressure on the indigenous small-numbered peoples. The opposite tendency is evident in the post-Soviet period—a process referred to in this article as "ethnic re-identification."Because there was little inter-regional migration of the indigenous peoples, we conclude that the population dynamics of each nationality in each region is the result of the interplay among fertility, mortality, assimilation, and ethnic re-identification.