The Specifics of Even Folklore

Genre Composition and Regional Features

in Sibirica
Author:
Sardana Sharina Researcher of Northern Philology, Department of Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Yakutsk, Russia.

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Raisa Kuzmina Senior Researcher, History and Arctic Research Department, Institute For Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies, Russian Academy Of Sciences, Yakutsk, Russia

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Abstract

Even folklore, represented by original epic canvases, original texts of fairy tale and non-fairy tale prose, samples of ritual song and dance art, and a variety of other genres, represents unique spiritual wealth, a component of the common cultural heritage of the Even people. Even folklore is a stable and well-established system, having an oral form that has been handed down by storytellers from generation to generation since ancient times. At present, the Even, like all indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East, are experiencing a gradual loss of folklore traditions and a narrowing of their repertoire, which is illustrated by the authors’ field material. This article deals with the circumstances of Even people concentrated in thirteen regions of Yakutia. A brief review of the history of Even epic folklore collecting from the eighteenth century to the present is provided. The modern repertoire and the degree of preservation of Even folklore genres in all regions of Even settlement in Yakutia are characterized. There is a gradual extinction of minor genres, such as riddles, proverbs, and sayings, along with the disappearance of archaic epos and fairy tales.

The study of the endangered languages of the indigenous minority peoples of the Russian North1—namely, the documentation and linguistic description of the diversity of their dialects and folklore traditions—is one of the priority areas of humanities research in the Russian Federation. This article addresses the question of diversity in the folklore of the Even people. We devote our attention to the least developed aspects of this domain, such as the documentation and consolidation of folklore materials; the study of genres, text variants, plots, and motifs of samples of Even folklore; and their comparative study.

For several centuries, researchers have collected and published interesting Even folklore materials: small genres (riddles, proverbs, sayings, wishes, prohibitions-amulets, customs and regulations, advice-admonitions, signs), texts of fairy tale and non-fairy tale prose, archaic epic narratives, and samples of ritual song and dance. However, they require qualitative and quantitative complementary analysis in the form of new recorded folklore materials.

In order to collect Even and linguistic folklore material and study the current linguistic situation, from 2004 to 2018 the employees of the Northern Philology Department (of the Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North, Russian Academy of Sciences) made a series of field trips to the regions of Yakutia where Even people live: Abyiskii, Bulunskii, Verkhnekolymskii, Kobiaiskii, Momskii, Nizhnekolymskii, Oimiakonskii, Srednekolymskii, Tomponskii, Ust’-Ianskii, Eveno-Bytantaiskii. Informants were mostly middle-aged and elderly Evens. During the field trips, materials on the ritual culture of the Evens were also recorded. Records were also made in Yakutsk during short-term trips by informants from different districts.

In this article, we rely on field materials collected by the authors in areas where Even settlement is concentrated. These materials include orally-conducted interviews and surveys, which were recorded in both audio and video formats.

The Evens and their Language

The Evens are one of the minority indigenous peoples of the Russian North, settled in Northeast Asia. The Evens have carried their distinctive language and unique culture to the present day, preserving and transmitting to new generations their unsurpassed skills for nature management, reindeer herding, and handicrafts, thus setting a unique example of successful adaptation in the extremely harsh climatic conditions of the Arctic and Subarctic. The Even language belongs to the Northern, or Siberian, branch of the Manchu-Tungus languages, which also includes the Evenki, Negidal, and Solon languages. This subgroup of genetically related languages shows the greatest degree of closeness with the family. The ethnic history of the Siberian group and the origins of the ancestors of the North Tungusic peoples is a subject of scientific inquiry for many researchers; nevertheless, there is still no consensus among researchers about their origin. Today there are two conceptions of the ethnogenesis of northern Tungus peoples: the first is known as the Pribaikalian theory of Tungus ethnogenesis;2 the second shifts the supposed ancestral home of the Tungus to the southeast—to Dunbei (Manchuria) and the Middle Amur. Available data from archeology and paleoanthropology give no reasons to single out the Tungus or their ancestors as ancient inhabitants of Siberia. Researchers assume that the ancestors of the Tungus—known as the Uvani—came from the south and ended up in Transbaikalia and Priamur'e, having separated from the Khi people under pressure from their forest-steppe neighbors. Thus, characteristic of all Manchu-Tungus languages is a large number of Mongolianisms (defined as old borrowings), which can be explained by their early close contacts with Mongols.

At present, the Manchu-Tungus peoples are settled over a vast area stretching all the way from the Yenisei River to the Sea of Okhotsk. The Evens, specifically, have settled in the northeastern part of this area. Even population distribution is illustrated by the map of Even languages and dialects (Fig. 1). This territory has been an area of cultural and economic interaction between different peoples for many centuries.3 The North-East part of Asia is a region with unique natural, climatic, and ecological conditions where, as a result of complex ethnogenetic processes, certain ethnic communities with a particular system of nature management, particular economic and cultural practices, their own languages, and a unique sense of identity were formed. The beginning of the development of the tundra of northeastern Yakutia by the Tungus dates back to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In the process of migrating north, the Tungus assimilated some members of other local cultures, such as the Koriaks and the Yukaghirs.

Figure 1:
Figure 1:

Map of Even and dialects

Citation: Sibirica 21, 3; 10.3167/sib.2022.210303

There are many stories of military clashes with the Koriaks in Even folklore, but later the enmity gave way to cultural interaction with the Koriaks, and some Evens of the Okhotsk coast adopted the Chukotko-Kamchatkan culture. Thus, the Evens, being included in the array of other cultures, become the subjects of different sociocultural processes and intercultural interactions, which is reflected in almost all levels of the Even language.

The population of Evens, according to the All-Russian census of 2010, is 21,830 people. The Even population has been increasing each census period: in 1959 there were 9,121 people, in 1970—12,029 people, in 1979—12,529 people, in 1989—17,199 people, and in 2002—19,071.

At present, the Evens live in five administrative-territorial formations of the Russian Federation: Magadan Oblast’—in the Ol'skii, Severo-Evenskii, Srednekanskii, Susumanskii, Tenkinskii districts and in the town of Magadan; in Khabarovskii Krai—in the Okhotsk District; the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug—in Anadyr'skii District, Bilibinskii District, and the city of Anadyr’; Kamchatka Krai—in Bystrinskii District; Koriakia (now part of Kamchatka Krai)—in Oliutorskii, Penzhinskii, and Tigilskii districts, and in the settlement of Palana; the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)—in the Abyiskii, Allaikhovskii, Bulunskii, Verkhnekolymskii, Verkhoianskii, Kobiaiskii, Momskii, Nizhnekolymskii, Oymyakonskii, Srednekolymskii, Tomponskii, Ust’-Ianskii, and Eveno-Bytantaiskii ulusy.4

The morphological structure of the Even language is suffixal-agglutinative. In the nominal domain, the inflectional categories of number (singular and plural), case (13 cases), and possession (personal-attributive and impersonal-attributive forms) are present. In the Eastern dialects and in written language, adjectives have concordant marking of number and case. There are up to ten classes of numerals, with some classes (restrictive, divisible, multiples) having a categorical subclassification due to diminutive and magnifying suffixes. Among the personal pronouns there are two forms of the first-person plural expressing the meaning of exclusiveness-inclusiveness; the reflexive pronoun distinguishes number forms; there is a large number of determinative pronouns; and the system of interrogative pronouns morphologically correlates with all parts of speech. In the Eastern dialects there is a separate class of possessive pronouns, while in the Western varieties possessive pronouns coincide with personal ones. In the verb there are four different tenses (present, past, future I, and future II, although in the written language just one form of the future tense is used), and eight moods (some moods have their own tense paradigms). The Even verb has about 30 morphological indicators expressing the nature of the action, and special indicators of the forms expressing the attitude of the action to the subject and object—indicators of reflexive, passive, and causative, as well as the forms of reciprocity and joint action included in the collateral category. There are up to 11 adjectival forms in the Even language. The system of auxiliary parts of speech is characterized by a branched system of postpositions, mainly expressing spatial relations, weakly developed conjunctions and unions, as well as a large number of particles expressing various shades of modal meanings. In the 1930s, a written Even language was developed based on the Ol'skii dialect (from the name of the settlement of Ola in the Ola District of Magadan Oblast’), widespread throughout the Okhotsk Coast, the upper and middle reaches of the Kolyma River, and in Chukotka.

Divergences at the phonetic, lexical, and dialectal levels of the Even language are not yet fully apparent. There are currently three known classifications of Even dialects (Western, Central, and Eastern) which differ significantly both in their grammars as well as their lexicon, requiring refinements and the addition of new materials, since new data is emerging from field studies of previously undescribed Even language dialects. There is only fragmentary information about regional varieties, based primarily on the dialects spoken by the Evens of Yakutia. At present, only the eastern range of the Even population (in Kamchatka, Chukotka, Magadan, and Khabarovskii Krai) is well studied.

Dialectological research on the territory of Yakutia is far from complete. Therefore, the characterization of the dialects and accents of the Evens of Yakutia, the identification of their distribution and linguistic features, and the systematization and classification of the available data that distinguish these varieties from one another are of great importance for the description of the disappearing languages of the minority indigenous peoples of the North.

We adhere to a classification of Even dialects that largely coincides with that presented in the works of V. I. Tsintsius, but that also takes into account materials on dialects not previously known (see Table 1).

Table 1.

Classification of Dialects and Accents of the Even language

Western group Central group Eastern group
Indigirskii dialect

(Abyiskii, Oimiakonskii, Tomponskii, Momskii variants)
Okhotskii dialect

(Arkinskii variant, Ul'inskii variant)
Kamchatskii dialect (Bystrinskii and Oliutorskii variants)
Ust’-Ianskii variant Ulakhan-Chistaiskii variant Oklanskii dialect
Sakkyryrskii dialect

(Tiugesirskii and Lamunkhinskii variants)
Ust’-Maiskii dialect Ol'skii dialect (Penzhinskii, Gizhiginskii, Tavatumskii, Ol'skii, Tauiskii, Prianadyrskii, Berezovskii, Rassokhinskii variants)
Northern dialect (Allaikhovskii, Nizhnekolymskii variants) Verkhnekolymskii varant Tenkinskii dialect
Armanskii dialect (no longer spoken)

In addition to the three dialect groups of the Even language—Eastern, Central, and Western—a special position is held by the so-called Armanskii dialect, the language of the Armanskii Even people who lived in the Ol'skii District of Magadan Oblast’. It seems inappropriate for us to separate the Sakkyryrskii dialect of the Even language from the other Even dialects of Yakutia and to single it out as a separate “extremely western” dialect. The only feature that separates the Sakkyryrskii dialect from the Evens of the Indigirka basin is the o-shaped articulation of the short vowels [a] and [e] in non-first syllables in this dialect, which appears irregularly and is most likely a consequence of contact with the Yakut language.

The dialects and variants of the Eastern dialect of the Even language on the territory of Kamchatka, Chukotka, Magadan Oblast’, Khabarovskii Krai (Novaia Inia settlement, Okhotsk district), and Yakutia (Srednekolymskii ulus, Ulakhan-Chistaiskii heritage of the Momskii ulus) are quite close to each other and mutually understandable. The dialects and variants of the Western dialect of the Even language on the territory of Yakutia and in the Okhotsk district of Khabarovskii Krai also show considerable closeness to each other and are also mutually understandable for the majority of the speakers of these dialects. However, mutual understanding of the broader dialect groupings of the Even language is extremely difficult. It is important to take into account some of the factors shaping how the Even language functions in contemporary conditions.

The particulars of the Even language situation are determined by several factors. The first factor is territorial. There is an exceptional dialectal disunity in the areas of Even settlement. In Yakutia, examples of almost all the currently known dialects and variants of the Even language are present, except for the extreme Eastern and Kamchatka dialects, while the dialectal composition of the other territories of Even settlement is rather homogeneous. There are more than ten dialects and variants among the three dialectal divisions of the Even language in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) alone; in fact, each ulus has its own special dialect or accent. At the same time, the dialect on which the literary Even language was based, the dialect of the Evens of Magadan Oblast’ (Ol'skii dialect), is widespread only in Srednekolymskii ulus, where, due to the economic and cultural specificity of this group of Evens, the language situation remains one of the most favorable for using the spoken and written Even language.5

The degree of ethnic consolidation, unlike other peoples, differs in its decline, due to historical and geographical factors. The differences in economy and culture between individual territorial groups are also quite significant and are caused by different natural and climatic conditions and ethno-cultural ties. For example, the Evens of the Allaikhovskii and Nizhnekolymskii districts, living in the tundra zone along the coast of the East Siberian Sea, the Alazeia River, and the lower reaches of the Indigirka, differ noticeably in their material and spiritual culture, which is associated with the fishing industry (methods of processing and storing fish, rituals and prohibitions associated with sea, etc.). They use sledges with arc-shaped supports, which are convenient for the tundra landscape, and wear Chukchi-like clothing. Among the Evens inhabiting the mountain taiga zone, for example among the Kobiaiskii Evens, there are unique customs and prohibitions associated with hunting mountain sheep, and horses are used when moving.

The second factor is ethno-social: the majority of Evens in Russia are historically characterized by Sakha bilingualism, and in the twentieth century by Sakha-Russian trilingualism. Some regions of Yakutia, such as Nizhnekolymskii, are characterized by multilingualism, expressed in the spread of Even, Yukaghir, Chukchi, and Sakha languages and the dialect of Russian-speaking Starozhily-Kolymchany outside the respective ethnic groups.

Thus, the particulars of the linguistic situation of the Evens of Russia have given rise to a number of serious problems in the teaching of languages in schools, the development of artistic literature, the popularization of folklore samples, and the work of the media.

Experts recognize that a systematic impact on the linguistic situation of the minority peoples of the North can reverse the assimilation processes that lead to language loss (Arefiev 2014; Burykin 1997; Robbek 2011; Strogalshchikova 2019). In connection to this, it is conceptually important for the revitalization of the languages of the minority peoples of the North to focus on the teaching of these languages in general educational institutions.

The general education system of the Russian Federation is taking some necessary measures to organize the study of native languages of the indigenous peoples of the North. A basic curriculum has been developed that makes it possible to introduce a native language as a mandatory subject. Incentive allowances for teachers of native languages of the peoples of the North have been established. Textbooks are being published, and Olympiads, contests, and seminars are held.

The conditions for teaching the Even language in the Russian Federation have been created in 24 schools in places where Even people are concentrated. The number of schools where the Even language is taught appears to be increasing, and the number of children studying the native language is also growing. For example, in 1989, the Even language was studied only in three schools in Yakutia, whereas in 2000, it was studied in 15 schools, with a total of 882 school children. In the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the Even language is taught in 18 schools, where over a thousand children study.

The linguistic situation remains favorable for the use of the oral and written language only in a few settlements where Even settlement is concentrated: in the village of Berezovka in Srednekolymskii District, the village of Sebian-Kiuel’ in Kobiaiskii District, Topolinoe in Tomponskii District, and Andriushkino in Nizhnekolymskii District. In the remaining districts the Even language is practically lost.

The real language situation reflects the fact that, of the children learning the Even language, more than 70 per cent of the students do not speak it. The available textbooks do not meet modern requirements, are designed only for the minority, and serve the interests of only a quarter of the children. While originally the textbook was just a tool for teaching literacy in the native language, for at least 30 years the mother tongue textbook was supposed to be the medium of instruction in the language as a whole. It has become a common phrase among educators that children learn Even as a foreign language. However, the textbooks of native languages nevertheless have not yet become methodologically similar to the textbooks of a foreign language, which teach language as a means of communication, and do not only focus on literacy.

Methodologists and scientists working in this field have long been aware of this situation, but at present there is not a single teaching kit or program that can be used to teach Even to non-native speakers, despite the fact that the Sakha Republic has the unique experience of native language teachers, educators, and directors of children's folklore groups in reviving languages.

An analysis of the work of teachers shows that learning a native language by the immersion method for the purpose of intensive language acquisition is very successful for children and adults in places where indigenous minorities of the North are concentrated. After an academic 45-minute lesson, children who did not know Even (in Naiba village, Bulunskii ulus in 2008, and in Kazach'e village, Ust’-Ianskii ulus in 2011, with the teacher V. G. Beloliubskaia) wrote mini essays and stories at the end of the lesson. The result was very encouraging for the children and their parents—the children who attended the lessons emphasized in a questionnaire that they wanted to learn their native language. This method, which implies an emphasis on the oral language, does not so much teach as elicit interest among the students, creating a positive impulse toward the language and culture of their ancestors and increasing the level of motivation among children to learn their native language.

However, the study of a native language by non-native speakers using the immersion method for the purpose of intensive language acquisition is not practiced everywhere at the present time. On a voluntary basis, teachers from the M. K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University have managed to introduce a certain number of teachers to this method as part of the Even and Evenki language education projects, which are pilot projects of the Department of Peoples’ Affairs and Federal Relations of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). But its use, due to the absence of any programs or manuals, presupposes immense creative potential among the teachers and the organization of very costly seminars and master classes (taking into account air travel). Here there is an alternative in the form of a special resource website for teachers of indigenous languages of the North, with video lessons by the best methodologists. It is now imperative to introduce innovative technologies in the education of children of minority peoples of the North: to create electronic educational resources and electronic language teaching aids and place them on the resource website for teachers.

However, no educational programs can compensate for the destruction of the linguistic community. Traditional economies and societies are domains where the use of indigenous languages is preserved, as in communities that practice reindeer herding. The modern problems of indigenous peoples of the North dictate the need to link education with the traditional way of life. Here, nomadic schools play a great role in teaching and upbringing, introducing the language, traditional occupations, and native culture to the children of reindeer herders and hunters, strengthening the family, and preserving the environment of traditional language use. At present, nomadic schools functioning in Yakutia are experiencing a rebirth in the conditions for innovative development of pedagogical theory and unique educational practice (Gabysheva 2012; Terekhina 2021; Zhirkova 2010). In this regard, state support of reindeer herding and other branches of traditional economy of the peoples of the North is one of the main and necessary measures for the preservation of the Even language as well.

One of the forms of preserving and developing the language of the people is to organize the work of folklore ensembles and creative art collectives to promote the folk art of the minority peoples of the North. Ethno-cultural centers are being created in the country to preserve and revive the Even culture. Currently, 13 children's Even folk ensembles and 19 Even ethno-cultural centers are successfully operating in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).

Based on the above, we can formulate some conditions for a more comfortable existence for the Even language. Traditional economic activities serve as a full-fledged economic base for all social groups of the aboriginal population and are a condition for the preservation and development of unique cultures and languages. The state's support of reindeer herding and other branches of the traditional economy of the peoples of the North is one of the main and necessary measures for the preservation of their languages. Language learning in educational institutions plays a decisive role in regulating the language situation. In the future, it is necessary to work on improving the teaching of the native language to non-native speakers using new teaching technologies, including distance education technology, electronic resources, and audiovisual textbooks on native languages. Programs should focus on a systematic approach to language learning.6

Promoting the use of official languages in public life in areas where minority peoples of the North are concentrated—cultural events, mass media, administrative bodies, and public service—seems to be an important area for active and creative language building. Today there are no publications in the Even language in the districts, there are no effective programs and courses for professional development for the adult population, and the Even language is not used as an official language in the administrative and state institutions. In this situation, it would be advisable to introduce the practice of adult training courses in the Even language in every municipality where Even people are concentrated, and to start working on the use of official languages in their territory in office work.

It is necessary to continue the linguistic support of the development of the Even language, primarily in the service of storing linguistic information and transmitting it through space and time—the creation of different types of grammars, dictionaries of different volumes and purposes, the publication of collections of Even folklore, and so forth. An exhaustive description of the Even dialects and variants in Yakutia, a dialectological map of the Even language, collection of language and folklore materials in the Even dialects, as well as publication of archival materials on the Even language remain urgent scientific tasks.

The linguistic environment in which a language feels comfortable and exists stably is a multigenerational linguistic environment. This means that, in order to preserve the language, it is necessary to avoid the aging of the speech community, which can ideally be achieved in only one way: by learning the language as the first, mother tongue in families where the older generation still speaks Even, so that younger family members could endeavor to learn and use the language as much as possible. To this end, all kinds of promotional and organizational activities should be deployed by public ethnic associations and unions.

Adherence to all of the above conditions can help improve the language situation among the Even people and create conditions for maintaining the full functioning of the Even language in the future.

For a more accurate assessment of the functioning of the languages of indigenous minorities of the North, it is necessary to conduct monitoring that allows for timely identification of the rate of loss and the degree of language preservation, as well as the development and creation of a favorable linguistic environment .

In the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), within the territory of 13 ulusy (districts), there live 15,071 Evens (more than 70 per cent of the ethic group). Ten districts with high concentrations of Evens are located in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. The language of the Evens of Yakutia is very diverse in dialectal composition: there are dialects belonging to Eastern (Berezovskii dialect—Srednekolylymskii district), Central (Verkhnekolylymskii dialect in Verkhnekolylymskii, Ulakhan-Chistai in Momskii, Ust’-Maiskii variant in Tomponskii district) and Western (other districts) dialects. Nevertheless, all local ethnic groups of Evens share common features, characterized by a special harmonious attitude to nature and to human beings, and with certain spiritual and moral foundations.

According to our data, only a minority (16.6 per cent) of the Evens in Yakutia currently speak their native language. The data was collected by means of a questionnaire in 2018 (AFM). The greatest degree of preservation of their native language is demonstrated by the Evens of the Srednekolymskii, Kobiaiskii, and Nizhnekolymskii districts. The worst situation is observed in Bulunskii, Verkhoianskii, and Eveno-Bytantaiskii districts, where the Sakkyryrskii dialect, previously widespread in these districts, has disappeared. The Evens are experiencing assimilation processes, and the knowledge of their native language correlates with the age of the speakers. At the present time, when the languages and cultures of minority peoples of the North are being transformed, it is important to record existing materials from older speakers. The materials collected will contribute to the further study of folklore and the reconstruction of traditional culture.

Collecting and Publishing Even Folklore

The folklore of the Evens has a rich genre composition and structure: archaic epics, tales, myth (nimkan), legends and tales (tələŋ, ukchənək), well-wishes (hirgəchin, əen), songs (ike, alma, djargan ikə), riddles (ŋənukən), proverbs and sayings (gömkən, gönməj), prohibitions and averments (tönŋəkich), customs and regulations (toma, itka), and omens (ham).

For the earliest accounts of the Evens’ oral art, experts refer the materials of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Samples of narrative texts of the Evens of Yakutia were published as early as 1874 by A. Schifner, and an excerpt of them along with the most interesting shamanic texts were recorded as early as the 1740s by J. I. Lindenau (Burykin 2007). At the end of the nineteenth century, Vladimir G. Bogoraz began to record Even folklore. His materials were published in 1931 under the title “Tunguskii Collection.” (Bogoraz 1931).

The systematic collection and publication of Even folklore also began in the 1930s. The first collectors who recorded and published works of Even folklore were Veniamin Il'ich Levin and Anatolii Rodionovich Bespalenko; the materials were published in study guides developed by them. Nikolai Prokop'evich Tkachik conducted pedagogical work and was engaged in collecting folklore among the Evens of the Khabarovskii region in the 1930s. It is thanks to him that Nikolai Georgievich Mokrousov's Even epic tales “Dəlgəni,” “Chibdəvəl,” “Geakchaval,” whose publication was undertaken in 1986 in Yakutsk by Vasily D. Lebedev and Zhanna K. Lebedeva, are widely known to specialists.7 Further work on the collection and publication of Even folklore was done by Klavdia A. Novikova. She compiled two collections of Even folklore (Novikova 1958, 1987). Texts were also recorded by Yakut scholars Lebedev (Lebedev 1978), Vasily A. Robbek, and A. A. Danilova (Keptuke and Robbek 2002). A study of the Even archaic epos was conducted by Lebedeva (Lebedeva 1982, 1986). In 1996, a textbook was published by Khristofor I. Dutkin, Even Folklore, which contains samples of Even oral art covering a wide diversity of genres (Dutkin 1996). Aleksei A. Burykin's work Minor Genres of Even Folklore (Burykin 2001) was the first attempt at generalizing the genre composition, circulation, language features, and poetics of samples of minor genres of Even folklore. The work also contains a preliminary excursion into the coverage of parallels to the samples of aphoristic genres of Even folklore in the oral art of other peoples of Siberia and the Far North-East. The manual by Evdokia N. Bokova, Even Folklore (Bokova 2002), is very popular among specialists, and it contains an extensive number of previously unpublished materials. But the author does not give translations of the texts into Russian and thus the book is accessible only to Even-speaking readers. In this respect, the book Folklore of the Evens of Berezovka: Samples of Masterpieces, compiled by Robbek (2005), is more advantageous, because here the folklore texts are published in their original language and in Russian translation. It is also the most complete bilingual edition of Even folklore texts to date.

Related to this, it is worth mentioning the preparation of the Even corpus in the 60-volume series Folklore Monuments of the Peoples of Siberia and the Far East. In 2012 the Institute of Humanities Research and Problems of Minority Peoples of the North of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, together with Burykin, undertook the preparation of a volume of Even epics based on a typewritten copy of Tkachik's texts. The prepared volume includes, besides the epic of the Okhotsk Evens, separate texts of Even epic tales recorded by Lebedev, Robbek, Danilova, and others. This corpus is a vital scientific apparatus. Poetic images and ethnic and everyday realities that are specifically featured in the folklore are explained in comments and dictionaries. Accurate documentation and metadata of texts is given, and they are annotated with the necessary folkloristic, philological, and ethnographic interpretation. A scientific publication of the highest achievements of the original oral-poetic creativity of the Evens should aim to introduce lesser-known works into wide scientific circulation as a rich integral part of the common cultural heritage of mankind.

Also, employees of the Even Philology Sector of the Institute of History and Philology of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have prepared a version of the volume Tales of the Even, including 97 tales with translations and analysis, and a version of the volume Myths, Tales, Legends, consisting of 22 texts with indexes of names of narrators, names of collectors, and places where the texts were recorded. Musicological analysis of the materials, clarification, and expansion of the initial analysis remain to be done.

Modern Repertoire and Preservation of Folklore Genres among the Evens of Yakutia

In this article, we pay more attention to those regional groups of Evens that have not yet been examined by Even dialectologists or have been poorly studied, and, accordingly, there are no samples of any texts or folklore materials from them. We mentioned above in our review of the collection of materials on Even folklore that the folklore repertoire was studied in detail in the Srednekolymskii (Berezovskii variant), Momskii (Ulakhan-Chistai and Dogdo-Chebogalakh variants), Tomponskii, and Allaikhovskii districts.

In the course of the work, samples of the following folklore genres were recorded: nimkan—epic tales, animal tales, magic, cumulative tales; tələŋ—stories, legends, myths and mythological stories; ikə—personal songs, improvisations; tönŋəkich—customs and taboos. The following table (Table 2) shows the occurrence of folklore genres among regional groups of the Evens in 13 districts of the Republic.

Table 2.

Functioning of Folklore Genres among the Evens of Yakutia

Districts Minor Genres of Folklore Song and Dance Art Legends, Myths, Stories Tales Archaic Epic
Abyiskii + +
Allaikhovskii + + + +
Bulunskii +
Verkhnekolymskii + + +
Verkhoianskii +
Kobiaiskii + + + +
Momskii + + + +
Nizhnekolymskii + + +
Oimiakonskii + + + +
Srednekolymskii + + + + +
Tomponskii + + + + +
Ust’-Ianskii + + +
Eveno-Bytantaiskii +

In the table above, the [+] sign denotes the occurrence of a particular genre in the group of the Evens of a particular region, while the [–] sign denotes the absence of a genre. As the table shows, the system of folklore genres is fully represented only in two places where Evens are concentrated—in Berezovka village of the Srednekolymskii district and in Topolinoe village of Tomponskii district. According to our observations, the preservation of the system of folklore genres correlates not only with the well-being of the vernacular from a sociolinguistic point of view (Berezovskii dialect in Srednekolymskii District), but also with the will and mastery of individual storytellers, nimkalans, with the high degree of proficiency and sense of responsibility of the last speakers of a language (Ust’-Maiskii variant in Tomponskii District, Allaikhovskii dialect in Allaikhovskii District, Verkhnekolymskii dialect in Verkhnekolymskii District, Abyiskii dialect in Abyiskii District). It is a surprising fact that even with the disappearance of the Sakkyryrskii dialect, we still find the occurrence of song and dance art (Bulunskii, Verkhoianskii, Eveno-Bytantaiskii districts).

Narrative genres dominate in the recorded texts—tələŋi (legends about həjeks, about the global flood, toponymic legends, fairy tales). For example, a text recorded in 2013 by I. A. Suzdalova, an Even from the Diallankin clan of the Ust’-Iansk district of Yakutia, tells about the past life of Evens, where the character is a həjek. The description of the həjek by the informants is rather ambiguous. Most often, the word həjek is translated as an ethnonym: “Chukchi, Koriak.” In some tələŋs this character appears as a “snowman.” But most of the informants translate həjek as “wild man or cannibal.” Suzdalova recalls her mother's story about həjeksː Ötəl stadav igin ilbəhni həjekel bigrər gönikən. Onton bəju d’əpti həjekel bigrər. Bərgəv ərə ahiv d’əpti həjekəl bigrər. “The story goes that in the old days there were həjeks who used to steal herds of deer. There were also such həjeks who ate human meat and only ate the meat of fat girls” (AFM).

To the question: “What did the həjeks look like?” Suzdalova answered: “My mother told me that həjeks looked like people, had beards, were very tall and very strong. They stole reindeer herds. They did not eat venison; they ate more human meat” (AFM). The informant herself suggests that they were likely feral people: bəjəl tachin ograchal bid'ir bi tolkujdavattam. Tarav həjəkəl gövəttə. “I think people would turn into such beings” (AFM).

A teleŋ about the Flood was recorded from a member of the Meme clan of Evens, a native of the village of Utaia in Verkhnekolymskii Ulus, named Praskov'ia Ivanovna Gromova, born in 1938. In this narrative, we encounter the fairy tale characters churiba, who should appear after the next Flood instead of people (AFM).

Among the Lamunkhinskii Evens we recorded a tələŋ narrative about the taboo against killing mosquitoes. This story tells about a young man who, being angry with mosquitoes, caught them all and collected them in a bag; in retaliation, a year later the mosquitoes killed him (AFM).

In 2013, E. N. Tataeva recorded several samples about ancient matchmaking among the Ilkan Evens, which contained ritual information (Sharina and Kuzmina 2018: 134–137, 156–158). The texts recorded from her can be likened to household tales, which have an instructive nature (Meletinskii 1969; Propp 1964).

Various toponymic legends are widespread and have been recorded among the Evens of Abyi, Moma, Nizhnaia Kolyma, Eveno-Bytantaia, and Sebian-Kiuel. Akulina Dmitrievna Sleptsova from the village of Kebergene of the Abyiskii ulus related ten such legends (AFM).

Samples of epic tales were also recorded among the Evens of Yakutia. At present the storytelling culture is preserved among the Allaikhovskii, Srednekolymskii, and Tomponskii Evens thanks to individual nimkalans such as Daria Mikhailovna Osenina, Anna Ivanovna Khabarovskaia and Maksim Il'ich Dutkin. Here it is important to note that the folklore of the Evens of Berezovka, Tompo, and Allaikhi contains all genres of oral folklore, despite the differences in spoken varieties and the (low) degree of language preservation.

In 2015, we recorded folklore samples “Nivrinju” (song and prose, performed by A. I. Khabarovskaia), “Ilan asatkan djugulin,” “Ömchək,” “Dőr nöŋənurəl hurkəl,” “Ilan bəi djugulin” (song and prose, performed by D. M. Osenina), “Ömən asatkan njan noŋan nöŋilni” (song and prose, performed by K. M. Zakharova), and “Umchəgin” (prose, performed by M. I. Dutkin) (AFM). We refer to these as the archaic epos (Putilov 1972; Pukhov 1975), as the plot structure and poetics of these samples reveal both genre-forming features of the epos and characteristic features of the archaic epos. These include the following features: the plausibility of the content, which puts the epic between myth (known truth) and fairy tale (known fiction); the presentation of events belonging to the category of not seen, but possible (war scenes, particular cruelty); the absence of indications about the ethnicity and genealogy of characters; the traditional method of including new characters in the text, in which the visual appearance of a new character is preceded by an audible monologue; and minimalism or complete absence of poetic means (Sharina and Burykin 2017).

It is known that in the Dogdo-Chebogalakhskii heritage of the Momskii district, Lebedev recorded Pavel Semenovich Atlasov, 89 years old, of Miamial clan, in 1955. He recorded the unique epic texts “Nöltək” and “Məŋun,” where the narrative is in prose and dialogues of the characters are in song form. To date, we have no data on the use of the archaic epos by the Evens of the Momskii district. In the Ulakhan-Chistai and Khonu villages we recorded various tales, toponymic legends, stories about the həjeks, various songs, and the round dance called the həde.

In 2007 and 2010, we recorded several animal tales and a toponymic legend from Khristina Mikhailovna Zakharova in the village of Topolinoe, Tomponskii district. Very interesting folklore materials were recorded from another resident of the village, Natalia Mikhailovna Golikova, an Even of the Godninkan clan; these are classified as mythological stories about the creation of animals, fairy tales, and a clan song (AFM).

The greatest preservation of fairy tale forms is found in cumulative or dialogue fairy tales. As field experience shows, cumulative tales are very stable in folklore tradition and are preserved even when language and folklore in any territorial group are on the verge of loss or are almost completely lost. We found the functioning of cumulative tales in certain groups of the Kobiaisk, Oimiakon, Ust’-Ian, Nizhnekolymsk, and Eveno-Bytantai Evens, in the absence of other fairy tale forms in the given ethnic groups.

This type of fairy tale is well known to those who have come across them in their childhood or in their practice as a teacher or folklorist; these are tales in the form of a conversation between two birds or between a character (e.g., a boy) and a bird. The text is based on their dialogue, usually starting with a request to “bring water,” to which the other character finds a lot of excuses not to fulfill the request, citing various reasons. Folklorists have come up against the fact that tales of this type are characterized as “childish” either by the performers or by those who listen to them, and as a result, both the performance of these tales and the attention that collectors give them are considered equally non-prestigious.

The microcosm of these fairy tales, in which the action has not actually taken place but could possibly occur, is the nearest part of the natural sphere: the nearest reservoir where one character sends another; a bush by the reservoir; parts of clothing (mittens); tools with gender attributions (needle—a feminine tool; bar—a male tool); daily activities (“go for water”); and items packed for migration.

Two Little Birds: An Even Fairy Tale

There are two little birds. Sisters. The elder sister said:

– Bird, go for water!
The younger one said:
– I won't go for water! I can fall into the river!
– You will hold on to the willow.
– My hands might be covered with calluses.
– Put on your mittens, you'll hold on.
– But my mittens might get torn.
– You can sew them up with your older sister's needle.
– My older sister's needle might become dull.
– You will sharpen it with your older brother's bar.
– My older brother's bar might be wearing thin.
The older bird said:
– Sister bird, how lazy you are! Well, now tell me, what are you covering yourself with?
– Dog skin.
– What are you putting down?
– Skin from a dog's forehead.
– What kind of knife do you use?
– A dog rib.
– How do you wrinkle the skin when dressing?
– With a dog jaw.
– What do you ride?
– On a dog's tail.
– How do you tie packs?
– Dog intestines.
– What do you have instead of a double pack bag?
– Dog kidneys.
– What do you use as a cauldron?
– A dog head.
The older bird said:
– Sister bird, what a liar you are! Well, now tell me, where did you put that cauldron?
– Wrapped up in bed.
– Where did you put that bed?
– I put it in my travel bag.
– Where did you put that travel bag?
– Tied into a knot.
– Where did you put that knot?
– I put it in the cover of the chum.
– Where did you put that cover?
– Tied together with the poles for the skeleton of the yurt.
– Where did you put those poles?
– I put them in the barn.
– And where's this barn of yours?
– It burned up in the fire.
– What fire?
– The rain put it out.
– And where is that rain?
– The nutcracker drank it up.
– And where is that nutcracker?
– Right here, at the top of the burnt tree. (Novikova 1987: 32–33)

Tales of this type are a component of the memories of the middle generation (35–55 years old) of their own childhood. As everyone recognizes, the addressee of such fairy tales is children, probably young children. We believe that tale-dialogues with a stable set of characters and an equally stable static plot, which also reveal a limited set of realities and a correspondingly limited set of words relevant to communication, had a special purpose—to teach children the language. In the vast majority of cases, these tales were told to children to teach them their native language, and were focused on a communicative minimum that corresponded to the child's knowledge of the surrounding reality. However, these same tales could have been successfully used to introduce adult listeners to the native language of the performer.

The linguistic-didactic potential of such tales in terms of teaching language as a means of communication, the formation of speech skills, and the development of linguocultural experience is undeniable. Thanks to such texts, children can develop their aural linguistic comprehension and memory abilities, and the ability to establish narrative connections (learn, hypothesize, store information in one's memory, understand one's motives and hidden intentions). A fairy tale dialogue contributes to the acquisition of grammatical patterns and vocabulary, since it contains new words and expressions, familiar vocabulary used in a new context, new grammatical constructions, or new contexts for the use of known grammatical phenomena.

We do not undertake in this article to discuss the possible variety of grammatical constructions that can be encountered in a dialogue, we only show potential examples in Even tales: for example, for “I fall in the water,” mölə tikchim (future I tense), tikchiŋəv (future II tense), tikchikəriv (the cautionary mood of the future tense), mölə-kke ətəm tikrə, mölə tikchim-kkə ətəm… (a special emphatic turn of phrase: “But then I'll fall in the water;” “I will fall—how could I not?”).

Apparently, the potential of these tales can be used for the same purpose now, for which the best, most complete texts of such tales can be selected for inclusion in various self-instruction manuals, phrasebooks, and textbooks.

Among the paremiological genres of all groups of the Evens, a stable occurrence of tönŋəkich “prohibitions-obligations” is noted. We recorded hunting bans, female bans, and bans about the spirit of fire. From an informant in the village of Andriushkino in the Nizhnekolymsk district, E. M. Tataieva recorded a prohibition concerning the spirit of the Sea:

Mian d'ur chas odakan əhəp kunivkaŋnar kuŋalbu. Utərəpəl tachin mutu tatkatkarar. Nam hunŋin hiraːld'in gumi. əd'ildə əntəkəjə törər guŋnər. Ineŋ bolla əvilde, jalda. Mian d'ör od'in-da əd'ilde turər guŋnən ən’əju. Mut n'an tik tachin turu tatkatkarrap. Mut obıchajat tarbachan bolla.

When it is twelve o'clock, we forbid the children to make noise. The old people taught us so. In order not to make the Spirit of the Sea angry, they forbade talking loudly. In the daytime you may play and make noise. When it is twelve o'clock, you must not make any noise. We do the same thing. We have this custom. (Sharina and Kuzmina 2018: 137)

The strict observance of the custom nimat concerning the rules of hospitality, the relationship of people to each other, was embodied in the recordings of all Even groups’ tönŋəkich; for example: Oldaːv höpköŋnərəp adalat horcha bihəkən əgd’ən. D’ə tarov irittid'ur, əchin chikirid'uːr, saːmaj ibgovan əgd’ən tarelkala nettid'ur tartiki һuruvrərəp. “Fish was caught by a net if big fish were caught. Then, having boiled it, cut off the best of it, put it on a plate and spread it among neighbors” (Sharina and Kuzmina 2018: 147).

From the Evens of Upper Kolyma, there is a recording of a hunting prohibition not previously recorded among other groups of Evens (AFM). According to this tönŋəkich, a young woman was forbidden to cut the shoulders of a mountain ram or other animal harvested by her elder brothers or father, so that their luck in hunting would not leave them (AFM). According to the record from Sofia Kirillovna Krivoshapkina, born in 1938, a native of the village of Sebian-Kiuel’ in the Kobiaiskii district, it is believed that if men go hunting mountain rams, women should not skin them during this time, so that luck does not turn away from the hunters (AFM).

Tönŋekich plays an important role in the education of the younger generation, and this genre embodies the rules of etiquette and proper attitude to the elderly, non-compliance with which is considered hinimkin (“sin”) among the Evens. The occurrence of such prohibitions is noted at the present time among the Nizhnekolymsk Evens. Evdokiia Mikhailovna Tataeva told us that a daughter-in-law should not talk to her husband's older brother and father-in-law. The daughter-in-law should not laugh in front of them when they talk, she should listen in silence (Sharina and Kuzmina 2018: 159).

Krivoshapkina told us about the prohibition that existed earlier among the Lamunkhinskii Evens: Ötərəp atikal mataktur n'urutur-də östö ichukəŋnər—ər töŋкə, hin'in. D'ulgədəlin-də əhni girkavrar-hin'imkin. “In the old days, women were forbidden to show their sons-in-law uncovered hair—it was a sin. You could not even walk in front (of the son-in-law)—it was a sin” (AFM).

One of the paremiological genres of the folklore of the Evens, xam (“omens”), is steadily preserved among the Lamunkhinskii Evens. Omens about the weather and omens related to animals were recorded from P. V. Zakharov; for example: Osikat khuromtorokon—ingehyidu. “When the stars often fall, then it's cold” (AFM).

In the traditional musical culture of the Evens there is a developed institution of personal songs. The circle dance həde and its various variants (dehrije, dehondi, etc.) are actively used in the modern spiritual culture of the people. One should note the stable preservation by the Evens of such genres as personal and clan songs ikə and alma, which are performed by the Evens at different moments of life, during holidays, in moments of joy or sorrow. In some ikəs the Evens sing about their relatives who have passed away, while in others they sing about the surrounding nature and love of young people; for example: Huti ikəriv taro Jurkaŋi. ə, tar javraram bolla ikəvrərəm. Hutu achcha bolla, tar hоŋgararaːm. Taduk ətəm ikər guŋdərəm. Goru ikəvrərəm. Hoŋgoraraːm bolla hutchəmi. “I sing of my son, my son Iura. My son is gone, so I cry for my son. So, with a song I express myself. I sing for a long time. I cry for my son.” (Sharina and Kuzmina 2018: 139).

The Evens of Yakutia are reviving the ritual festivals of əvinək and Həbdenək, a wedding ceremony. We can see a fragmentary preservation of funeral rites but no functioning fishing rites.

All groups of Evens have a ritual of feeding of the tog muhonni (“spirit of the fire”), which has a sacred meaning in the traditional worldview of the Evens. They address the spirit of the fire during important events, during celebrations to express gratitude, or to request a blessing. Such feeding or veneration of the tog muhonni is accompanied by propitiatory words and well-wishes.

From Dora Mikhailovna Neustroeva, an Even of the Ilkan clan born in 1955, a ritual of feeding the spirit of the fire after the birth of a child was recorded. After the birth of a child, the spirit of the fire is necessarily fed, and then the dwelling is fumigated with wild rosemary. When a newborn child is brought home for the first time, the child's forehead is smeared with coal and the fire is fed with the words that a new person has arrived (Sharina and Kuzmina 2018: 166).

Funeral rites with some local peculiarities are observed among almost all Even groups. Among the Nizhnekolymskii Evens, this ritual has preserved its authenticity, according to the stories of informants (killing a sacrificial deer according to the canons adopted by the Evens during funeral rituals, distributing the meat of the sacrificial deer to all the people who came to the funeral, burning the belongings of the deceased) (Sharina and Kuzmina 2018: 161).

Stories about ancient ways of healing people and maternity rites were recorded from the Evens of Nizhnekolymskii, Srednekolymskii, and Verkhnekolymskii districts. There were special midwives who attended to women. P. I. Gromova (Verkhnekolymskii District) notes that the Verkhnekolymsk Evens used to have special methods to help women recover after childbirth (AFM). D. M. Neustroeva (Nizhnekolymskii District) told us that when a sick child was born, they tied a puppy near the cradle and gave the child a second name so that the bogeymen from the lower world would mistake the child for the puppy and could not harm it (Sharina and Kuzmina 2018: 167).

Conclusion

The current state of Even folklore is characterized by low preservation of many genres, their instability, and a lack of continuity of folklore tradition; there is a gradual extinction of such genres as archaic epos, fairy tales, riddles, proverbs, and sayings. Song culture and narratives are still the most active folklore genres. Only a few Even ethnic groups have the entire system of folklore genres represented today. As the last connoisseurs of language and culture pass away, it is becoming more and more difficult for researchers to collect material from the older generations. Therefore, there is now an urgent need for documentation of living folklore heritage.

The modern functioning of Even folk culture in Yakutia demonstrates a general unity across all Even folklore traditions; however, it reveals dialectal diversity and specificity to some local groups. The distinctive features and originality of certain genres are dictated by natural and climatic conditions and the cultural landscape. For example, the occurrence of narratives with maritime themes is observed only among the inhabitants of the East Siberian Sea coast, and in the folklore of the Oimiakonskii, Momskii, Abyiskii and Kobiaiskii Evens there is wide use of names of the mountain landscape and zoonyms characteristic for the area. Mythological stories about river spirits are common among the Evens, who traditionally roam the mouths of large rivers. The presence of zoomorphic characters toki (“elk”) and ujamkan (“mountain sheep”) is quite common among the Evens of the mountain-taiga zone.

Living in the same territory and interacting with other ethnic groups makes its imprint on the specificity of the narrative, traditional circle dance, and song culture of the Evens. The differences connected with the cultural landscape are mainly found in the Sakha and Yukaghir borrowings in the dialectal vocabulary, and coincides with the presence of representatives of one or another ethnic group.

In the folklore discourse of the Evens of Yakutia at the present time the greatest preservation is noted in such genres as nimkan (cumulative tales), tələŋ (mythological stories about həjeks, toponymic legends), and tönŋəkich (prohibitions and protections). In ritual culture, all groups of Evens preserve funeral rites and the rite of feeding the spirit of the fire, demonstrating the uniform pan-Even specificity in which the traditional outlook, norms of behavior of Evens in relation to surrounding world, and spiritual values of people are reflected.

Despite the fact that extensive and interesting Even folk materials have been collected and published through the efforts of many researchers, they have not yet been subjected to a comprehensive review with folkloristic, philological, and ethnographic interpretation and musicological analysis; there are still no publications of the Even corpus in the 60-volume series Folklore Monuments of Peoples of Siberia and the Far East. Almost all published books lack scientific analysis of the texts, and variants of texts, plots, and motifs of Even folklore, as well as comparative study of plots, motifs, and images of Even people's oral folklore with the materials on folklore of other Siberian peoples, still remain unexplored. In this connection, the publication of three works prepared by the Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, within the series Folklore Monuments of Peoples of Siberia and the Far East would be a notable event not only in the collection and study of Even and other Manchu-Tungus folklore.

Today, when the natural transmission of the Even language in families is almost lost and there is a danger of the disappearance of the language and ethnic group, it is necessary to preserve and expand the teaching of the native language within the education system. And here it is impossible to overestimate the importance of folklore for teaching the language and national culture. The content of folklore, its genres, are the life of the people, their world outlook, and their traditional conceptualization of the world. With the help of folklore, a person not only expands his horizons and elevates his culture and morality, but also deepens his knowledge of the language. The verbal traditions of the indigenous peoples of the North, presented in folklore, are very voluminous in terms of linguistic methods and means. The repertoire of linguistic units, with a large variety of genres, is very different and varies from a morphological unit, to a word, to text fragments that form a rich folklore language in a corpus. Therefore, it is very important to widely use Even folklore when teaching the language to children and adults. In this regard, when compiling programs, textbooks, and teaching aids, it is important to pay special attention to the folklore component.

Sources and Abbreviations Used

AFM—Authors’ field materials, collected from 2004 to 2018 in places where Evens are concentrated. The field materials were collected by interviewing and recording on audio and video equipment in the Abyiskii, Bulunskii, Verkhnekolymskii, Kobiaiskii, Momskii, Nizhnekolymskii, Oimiakonskii, Srednekolymskii, Tomponskii, Ust’-Ianskii, Eveno-Bytantaiskii regions.

Notes

1

The phrase “indigenous minority peoples of the Russian North” is a loose translation of the Russian term korennye malochislennye narody severa, an official census designation for ethnic groups of fewer than fifty thousand people who reside in the traditional territories of their ancestors within the Russian Far North, Siberia, and the Russian Far East and preserve their traditional lifestyles.

2

In his monograph, G. M. Vasilevich (1969) concludes that the “historical homeland” of the ancestors of modern Tungus is located in the mountain-taiga region of the southern Baikal region—the coast of Lake Baikal.

3

These include the Aleuts, Itelmens/Kamchadals, Kereks, Koriaks, Chuvans, Chukchis, Yupiks, Evenki, Yukaghirs, and Sakha.

4

Ulus—administrative district in Yakutia

5

Due to their isolated location, Evens of the Srednekolymskii region (in the village Berezovka) became involved in socialist labor and production only in the early 1970s, and retained their original nomadic lifestyle along with their material and spiritual culture.

6

The systematic approach to teaching languages that is envisioned here holds that the process of learning communication in traditional Indigenous languages like Even is the reverse of majority languages: first, the goal of the communication is outlined, and then the tasks that can lead to this result are determined. This takes place within the entire course, across all lessons, and applies to all aspects of instruction.

7

“Epos okhotskikh Evenov” [An epic of the Okhotsk Evens], in the recordings of N. P. Tkachik, 1986 (Yakutsk).

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  • Putilov, Boris N. 1972. “Epos narodov Sibiri i ego istoricheskaia tipologiia.” [The epic of the peoples of Siberia and its historical typology] In Voprosy iazyka i fol'klora narodnostei Severa. [Issues of language and folklore of the Peoples of the North], ed. B. N. Putilov, 121142. Yakutsk: Research Institute of Languages, Literature and History.

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  • Pukhov, Innokentii V. 1975. “Epos tiurko-mongol'skikh narodov Sibiri: Obshchnosti, skhodstva, razlichiia.” [Epic of Turkic-Mongolian peoples of Siberia: Commonalities, similarities and differences] In Tipologiia narodnogo eposa [Typology of folk epic], ed. V. M. Gatsak, 1263. Moscow: Nauka.

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  • Robbek, Vasily A. (compiler). 2005. Fol'klor Evenov Berezovki: Obraztsy shedevrov. [Folklore of the Evens of Berezovka: Samples of masterpieces]. Yakutsk: Institute for Indigenous Studies of the North.

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  • Robbek, Vasily A. 2011. Sokhranenie, vozrozhdenie i razvitie iazykov korennykh malochislennykh narodov Severa, Sibiri i Dal'nego Vostoka Rossiiskoi Federatsii v pervoi chetverti XXI veka (kontseptsiia). [Preservation, revival and development of the languages of the indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation in the first quarter of the 21st century (concept)]. In Ustoychivoye razvitiye narodov Severa Rossii [Sustainable Development of the Peoples of the North of Russia], 444501. Novosibirsk: Nauka.

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  • Sharina, Sardana I., and Aleksei A. Burykin. 2017. “Obshchie tipologicheskie svoistva rannikh form eposa severnotungusskikh narodov.” [The general typological properties of the early forms of the epic of the North Tungus peoples] In Epicheskoe nasledie narodov mira: Traditsii i etnicheskaia spetsifika. Sbornik tezisov po materialam mezhdunarodnoi nauchnoi konferentsii (Epic heritage of the peoples of the world: Traditions and ethnic specificity. Collection of theses on the materials of the international scientific conference), 1314. Yakutsk: Alaas.

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  • Sharina, Sardana I. and Raisa P. Kuzmina. 2018. Nizhnekolymskii govor Evenskogo yazyka. [Nizhnekolymskii dialect of the Even language] Novosibirsk: Izd-vo SO RAN. DOI:10.15372/Dialect2018SSI.

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  • Strogalshchikova, Zinaida I. 2019. “Iazyki korennykh narodov malochislennykh narodov Rossii v sisteme obrazovaniia: Predlozheniia po sovershenstvovaniiu pravovoi bazy.” [Indigenous languages of the small-numbered peoples of Russia in the education system: Proposals for improving the legal framework] In Iazyki v polietnicheskom gosudarstve: Razvitie, planirovanie, prognozirovanie [Languages in a multi-ethnic state: Development, planning, forecasting], ed. G.A. Dyrkheeva, A.N. Bitkeeva, S.V. Kirilenko, B.D. Tsyrenov, 123128. https://doi.org/10.31554/978-5-7925-0559-9-2019-123-128.

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  • Terekhina, Aleksandra N. 2021. “Kochevaia shkola v sovremennoi sisteme obrazovaniia dlia narodov Severa RF: kontseptsii, diskursy i praktiki” [Nomadic school in the modern system of education for the Peoples of the North of the Russian Federation: Concepts, discourses and practices]. Abstract of a dissertation for the degree of candidate of historical sciences. Moscow, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, RAS.

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  • Vasilevich, Glafira M. 1969. Evenki: Istoriko-etnograficheskie ocherki (XVIII–nachalo KHKH v.). [Evenki: Historical and ethnographic essays (18th to early 20th century)] Leningrad: Nauka.

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  • Zhirkova, Sargylana G. 2010. “Kochevaia shkola: Istoriia i sovremennost’.” [Nomadic school: History and modernity] Siberian Pedagogical Journal 2: 276284.

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Contributor Notes

Sardana Sharina (ORCID: 0000-0002-7536-2757), PhD, is a leading researcher of the Northern Philology Department of the Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yakutsk, Russia. Her research interests include Even language, folklore, functional grammar, and dialectology. Email: sarshar@mail.ru.

Raisa Kuzmina (ORCID: 0000-0003-4964-3448), PhD, is a senior researcher at the History and Arctic Research Department of the Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yakutsk, Russia. Her research interests include Even language, folklore, dialectology, and ethnography of Evens. Email: raisakuzmina2013@yandex.ru.

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Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

  • Arefiev, Aleksander L. 2014. Iazyki korennykh malochislennykh narodov Severa, Sibiri i Dal'nego Vostoka v sisteme obrazovaniia: istoriia i sovremennost’. [Indigenous languages of the North, Siberia and the Far East in the education system: history and modernity] Moscow: Center for Social Forecasting and Marketing

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  • Bogoraz, Vladimir G. 1931. Materialy po lamutskomu yazyku [Materials on the Lamut language]. In Tungusskiy sbornik [Tunguska collection], 1108. Leningrad: USSR Academy of Sciences Publishing House.

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  • Bokova, Evdokia N. 2002. Evenskii fol'klor. [Even folklore] Yakutsk: Bichik.

  • Burykin, Aleksei A. 1997. “Iazykovaia situatsiia i voprosy prepodavaniia rodnykh iazykov v natsional'nykh shkolakh Chukotskogo avtonomnogo okruga” [Language situation and issues of teaching native languages in national schools of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug]. In Malochislennye narody Severa, Sibiri i Dal'nego Vostoka: Problemy sokhraneniia i razvitiia iazykov. [Minorities Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East: Problems of preservation and development of languages], ed. D.M. Nasilov, 162180. St. Petersburg: Institute for Linguistic Studies, RAS

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  • Burykin, Aleksei A. 2001. Malye zhanry evenskogo fol'klora. [Minor genres of Even folklore] St. Petersburg: Peterburgskoe Vostokovedenie.

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  • Burykin, Aleksei A. 2007. “Pervoe sobranie obraztsov fol'klora evenov Iakutii (k 135-letiiu izdaniia).” [The first collection of samples of Even folklore of Yakutia (for the 135th anniversary of the publication)] Acta Linguistica Petropolitana 3 (3): 361392.

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  • Dutkin, Khristofor I. 1996. Evenskii fol'klor: Spetskurs dlia studentov Evenov. [Even Folklore: Special course for students of the Evens] Yakutsk: YSU Publishing House.

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  • Gabysheva, Feodosia V. 2012. “Opyt sozdaniia i deiatel'nosti kochevykh shkol v Respublike Sakha (Iakutiia).” [Experience in the creation and operation of nomadic schools in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)] In Sovremennoe sostoianie i puti razvitiia korennykh malochislennykh narodov Severa, Sibiri i Dal'nego Vostoka Rossiiskoi Federatsii. [Current state and pathways of development of the indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation], 202209. Edition of the Federation Council.

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  • Keptuke (Varlamova), Galina I., and Vasily A. Robbek. 2002. Tungusskii arkhaicheskii epos (evenkiiskie i evenskie geroicheskie skazaniia). [The Tunguska archaic epos (Evenki and Even heroic tales)]. Yakutsk: IPMNS SB RAS.

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  • Lebedev, Vasily D. 1978. Iazyk evenov Iakutii. [Language of the Evens of Yakutia] Leningrad: Nauka.

  • Lebedeva, Zhanna K. 1982. Epicheskie pamiatniki narodov krainego Severa. [Epic monuments of the Peoples of the Far North]. Novosibirsk: Nauka.

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  • Lebedeva, Zhanna K. 1986. Arkhaicheskii epos Evenov. [Archaic epos of the Evens]. Novosibirsk: Nauka.

  • Meletinskii, Eleazar M. 1969. “Strukturno-tipologicheskoe izuchenie skazki” [Structural and typological study of the fairy tale]. In Morfologiia skazki (Morphology of the Folk Tale), ed. V. Y. Propp, 134166. Moscow: Nauka.

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  • Novikova, Klavdia A. (compiler). 1958. Evenskii fol'klor. [Even folklore] Magadan: Book publishing house.

  • Novikova, Klavdia A. 1987. Evenskie skazki, predaniia i legendy. [Even tales, traditions and legends]. Magadan: Book publishing house.

  • Propp, Vladimir Y. 1964. “Zhanrovyi sostav russkogo fol'klora.” [Genre composition of Russian folklore] Russkaia literatura [Russian Literature] 4: 5876.

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  • Putilov, Boris N. 1972. “Epos narodov Sibiri i ego istoricheskaia tipologiia.” [The epic of the peoples of Siberia and its historical typology] In Voprosy iazyka i fol'klora narodnostei Severa. [Issues of language and folklore of the Peoples of the North], ed. B. N. Putilov, 121142. Yakutsk: Research Institute of Languages, Literature and History.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pukhov, Innokentii V. 1975. “Epos tiurko-mongol'skikh narodov Sibiri: Obshchnosti, skhodstva, razlichiia.” [Epic of Turkic-Mongolian peoples of Siberia: Commonalities, similarities and differences] In Tipologiia narodnogo eposa [Typology of folk epic], ed. V. M. Gatsak, 1263. Moscow: Nauka.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Robbek, Vasily A. (compiler). 2005. Fol'klor Evenov Berezovki: Obraztsy shedevrov. [Folklore of the Evens of Berezovka: Samples of masterpieces]. Yakutsk: Institute for Indigenous Studies of the North.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Robbek, Vasily A. 2011. Sokhranenie, vozrozhdenie i razvitie iazykov korennykh malochislennykh narodov Severa, Sibiri i Dal'nego Vostoka Rossiiskoi Federatsii v pervoi chetverti XXI veka (kontseptsiia). [Preservation, revival and development of the languages of the indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation in the first quarter of the 21st century (concept)]. In Ustoychivoye razvitiye narodov Severa Rossii [Sustainable Development of the Peoples of the North of Russia], 444501. Novosibirsk: Nauka.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sharina, Sardana I., and Aleksei A. Burykin. 2017. “Obshchie tipologicheskie svoistva rannikh form eposa severnotungusskikh narodov.” [The general typological properties of the early forms of the epic of the North Tungus peoples] In Epicheskoe nasledie narodov mira: Traditsii i etnicheskaia spetsifika. Sbornik tezisov po materialam mezhdunarodnoi nauchnoi konferentsii (Epic heritage of the peoples of the world: Traditions and ethnic specificity. Collection of theses on the materials of the international scientific conference), 1314. Yakutsk: Alaas.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sharina, Sardana I. and Raisa P. Kuzmina. 2018. Nizhnekolymskii govor Evenskogo yazyka. [Nizhnekolymskii dialect of the Even language] Novosibirsk: Izd-vo SO RAN. DOI:10.15372/Dialect2018SSI.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Strogalshchikova, Zinaida I. 2019. “Iazyki korennykh narodov malochislennykh narodov Rossii v sisteme obrazovaniia: Predlozheniia po sovershenstvovaniiu pravovoi bazy.” [Indigenous languages of the small-numbered peoples of Russia in the education system: Proposals for improving the legal framework] In Iazyki v polietnicheskom gosudarstve: Razvitie, planirovanie, prognozirovanie [Languages in a multi-ethnic state: Development, planning, forecasting], ed. G.A. Dyrkheeva, A.N. Bitkeeva, S.V. Kirilenko, B.D. Tsyrenov, 123128. https://doi.org/10.31554/978-5-7925-0559-9-2019-123-128.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Terekhina, Aleksandra N. 2021. “Kochevaia shkola v sovremennoi sisteme obrazovaniia dlia narodov Severa RF: kontseptsii, diskursy i praktiki” [Nomadic school in the modern system of education for the Peoples of the North of the Russian Federation: Concepts, discourses and practices]. Abstract of a dissertation for the degree of candidate of historical sciences. Moscow, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, RAS.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vasilevich, Glafira M. 1969. Evenki: Istoriko-etnograficheskie ocherki (XVIII–nachalo KHKH v.). [Evenki: Historical and ethnographic essays (18th to early 20th century)] Leningrad: Nauka.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhirkova, Sargylana G. 2010. “Kochevaia shkola: Istoriia i sovremennost’.” [Nomadic school: History and modernity] Siberian Pedagogical Journal 2: 276284.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

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