Siberian Native Religious Culture Vs Modernization
Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories
From All Creatures Articles Archive

Submitted by: Yuri Klitsenko

This article is in response to the comment: "One way to help these cultures is to show what they have been in the past and what they are today, as you do".

I am writing for both the Russians and the English Internet. For Evenkis, I am the bad guy who does prohibited things - asks about shamans and wants to see graves. Museum or second hand things are specially dangerous for Evenkis, because of multitudes of "bugadyl" (spirits) residing on everything ancient or second hand. That is why any shaman tent is for single use only. For the same reason - because of "bugadyl" - Evenkis avoid visiting graves.

Favourite personal things of dead Evenki sacrificed reindeer carries to the land of the dead, some other things can be sold or given to Russians. Their ideas of past, today and future are different from history in European understanding. Their "history" depends on continuous dialogue with living nature around them, which unites the past, the present and the future. Evenkis don't want to know what they have been in the past, but they are eager to understand what taiga is telling them. Once taiga saved me from unfriendly drunken young Evenki, who was listening to the forest before starting to attack "lucha-mi" (damned Russian).

I am also responding to the question: It is true that now in Tura, etc. there is an interest in preserving the ancient culture. Can we have some hope?

Evenkis are in conflict with industry. I don't say that Evenkis are "technically stupid". Of course, they are more inclined towards art, poetry, mysticism and, unfortunately, towards alcoholism. But I knew Evenki boy who himself repaired old useless "vezdekhod" - being afraid of bears I hired his "vezdekhod" to visit some interesting places. Yet the truth is that majority of Evenkis don't want industry in their forests.

Surinda, Ekonda, Sovrechka etc. are remains of traditional Evenki life. Their survival depends on internal and external factors. Evenkis need to understand that alcohol is much more dangerous killer than "bugadyl" of history, museum and second hand things. USA and EU need to restrict their oil and gas consumerism. Russia, China, Japan need to rethink fanatic faith in unlimited industrial development. I think that Evenkia besieged by globalization will fall down soon and its fall will not be even noticed by busy humankind.

Mrs. Anna Nerkagi, Nenets writer, predicts victory of "the Horde" (Europeans) over "the Dirty Ones" (Siberians):

"The Horde. This is the only way to define that gathering of pale, frightened, forsaken people. They exist like ants in an enormous anthill. But at least in an anthill there is order and law, a division of labor. In the name of labor, each industrious ant brings to the anthill each blade of grass, each grain of sand. But in the Horde ... The horrible Horde is like a nest of worms ingesting filth, then feeding on each other.

Enmity is old. Its roots are deep and cannot be traced, because these Moles were the last free ones. For a long time they did not acknowledge the Horde itself, and it was they who gave the Horde its scornful name—"Khaly-Mya"—the dwelling place of worms. The members of the Horde scorned them in turn, calling them "the Dirty Ones".

The moles are descendants of those who were once rooted in labor. The essence of their life was the reindeer—that beautiful animal with four legs, a fluffy tail, and wonderfully warm fur of different colors, from bluish-black to light blue, like the lake's morning mist.

The crowning greatness of the reindeer was its antlers. They grew on the top of its head like rays of the rising sun, sprouting through the fur and gradually turning to strong bone, then gracefully branching. In a similar way songs are born. The antlers were the reindeer's song, so the ancestors would say. The reindeer and the people lived one life, so closely connected that the death of the one became the death of the other, both physically and spiritually.

The moles came here last, unable to survive on their own, migrating on the few remaining reindeer. And they were met by mocking jokes and the scornful laughter of the worms, who had their moment of triumph. Like howling evil dogs, the worms greeted the caravans, throwing stones at the reindeer.

The last of the free people passed through the Horde as if running a gauntlet. Many were killed and mutilated. The rest set up their dwellings, for good, in this shameful place of death. The women caressed the reindeer for the last time. The men held their life-brothers by the mane, fell on their knees, then raised the executioner's axe. They let the axe fall without realizing that their souls were now dead forever.

At that moment a new era began, an era of slavery. For people without labor—labor assigned to their hands, mind, and soul by God—turn into slave".

"The reindeer and the people lived one life, so closely connected that the death of the one became the death of the other, both physically and spiritually". That's true! For example, newspaper "Kolymskaya Pravda" published didactic article about Tungus who by mistake shoot his personal reindeer (in dark weather mixed up his domestic reindeer with wild reindeer) - that "evil and damned person" was expelled from community and soon himself died because spirits of killed reindeer took him and his wife.

Go on to: Slavic Creation Stories
Return to: Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories