Belts and Roads of Eurasia: Chumikan - on the Frontier of Cultures

07/12/2021 13:53

Family albums, diaries and genealogies of modern Chumikan residents, the descendants of the Americans Gutchinsons, Latvians Prusovs, Yakuts Ivanovs, Russian Cossacks Khabarovs, Evenks Chepalovs or Koreans Pak keep the history of not only this small fishing village, but also the history of all Eurasia.

Member of the Eurasian Peoples' Assembly, Head of the project "Belts and Roads of Eurasia", Doctor of Historical Sciences, Associate Professor of the Educational and Scientific Center for Social Anthropology of the Russian State University for the Humanities Maxim Mikhalev, together with colleagues - social anthropologists, as well as novice scientists - conducts research work on living in populated areas settlements of small indigenous peoples of Russia and Australia. The research work takes place in settlements that were previously studied and visited by the project participants: several Evenk villages of the Khabarovsk Territory, located in the Tugur-Chumikansky District, and several Australian Aboriginal villages on the Cape York Peninsula.

Maksim Sergeevich shares his impressions of an ethnographic expedition to the Tugur-Chumikansky district of the Khabarovsk Territory, which was supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation "On the frontier of cultures: from individual biographies to the historical fate of ethnic communities (Evenks of Siberia and indigenous Australians in the context of modernization)":

“This region is quite inaccessible, and it is connected to the Big Earth only by a winter road, which the residents of the village build on their own in January-March, and a short navigation period in July-August, when it is possible to deliver foodstuffs, fuel, lubricants and other essential goods necessary for a long winter. The rest of the time, the only hope for a helicopter and for flights of "Khabarovsk Airlines", which are rare and at the same time are often delayed or canceled due to weather conditions. The members of the expedition themselves could see that this was indeed the case while awaiting departure from Chumikan for more than three days. They had to get to the snow-covered village airport in the old fashioned way, on sledges, for the snow storm that had been raging all this time not only led to a partial power outage, but also generated drifts that even a specially adapted transport was unable to overcome. ...

Despite such isolation, Chumikan turned out to be a self-sufficient, economically prosperous and at the same time surprisingly cosmopolitan settlement, which became a second home for representatives of cultures and peoples living at great distances from each other. As it turned out, this small village on the very shore of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk intertwined the fate of Polish gold miners and Yakut guides, Korean workers and Evenk reindeer herders, Russian Cossacks and Japanese smugglers, Latvian hunters and American whalers. Their descendants cherish the memory of their ancestors. It is these personal biographies of people from all over the world who, by the will of fate, find themselves where the sea meets land, and day meets night, and became the basis for conclusions that will form a collective monograph dedicated to studies of individual biographies of the residents of the Far Eastern frontier of Russia.

The frontier, which, only from the point of view of the residents of the central regions, is located on the very edge of the Oycumene, but which in reality, is a point of attraction and a meeting place for people from all over the world. In fact, in family albums, diaries and genealogies of modern residents of Chumikan, descendants of the Americans Gutchinsons, Latvians Prusov, Yakuts Ivanovs, Russian Cossacks Khabarovs, Evenks Chepalovs or Koreans Pak, there is a story not only of this small fishing village, but of the whole of Eurasia. It turns out to be woven into a single, inseparable knot by the threads of their destinies, because it is in such small villages that the inextricable connection of its peoples is felt truly deeply. Especially at the moment when it seems to you that the plane will never fly to the mainland and your own destiny will be forever connected with the history of this land."