The Indians of Russia

The term "Indian" for native North Americans is of course wildly inappropriate, based on a 500-year-old error in geography, but the term is now thoroughly embedded in language and literature. Americans tend to have a provincial viewpoint that "Indians" are limited to the United States, or even to the American West. Those with a broader perspective extend the appelation to native Canadians, Mesoamericans, and South Americans.

Now consider Russia, the ancestral home of the peoples who in prehistoric time migrated to the New World.  The picture above comes from a photoset depicting the Itelmen inhabiting the Kamchatka peninsula in northeast Russia.  Since the eighteenth century there has been extensive intermarriage with Cossacks, so that the term Kamchadal is now used for the resultant mixed population, but some ethnic Itelmen are making a valiant effort to preserve their culture and language.

Like Native Americans, the aboriginal Itelmen thrived on the immense salmon runs of the North Pacific; their dwellings and religious beliefs also have strong parallels with those of Native Americans.  It's not clear whether the dress and adornments exhibited in the photoessay reflect a parallel cultural evolution, or whether the modern Itelmen have back-adapted the trappings of their more well-known North American counterparts.

Link to English Russia photoessay.  More info here and here.

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

The clothing style is also similar to the traditional dress of the Scythians, a group of nomadic tribes from the western area of Russia who occasionally interacted with Europeans as far south as Macedonia. Stravinsky and Nicholas Roehrich based the costumes in "The Rite of Spring" on these. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjX3oAwv_Fs
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
We have "indians" in sweden too, called Sami people. But as a Swede I'm a bit ashamed that I barely know anything about them. We were taught in primary school about them and that was it from what I remember.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Ah yes - "The" Indians...

Most of us Europeans and Americans do not have a single clue about the cultural and geographical complexity and largeness of the native tribes of the North-American continent and of Syberia. We all are just emerging from a whole time when we only knew that there was us "Civilised" Westerners and that there were them "Primitive" -non-specified because not equal or worthy- Others.

...
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Which native american tribe(s) is this society similar to?! I'm guessing those of the pacific northwest? There is a very wide variation of languages, beliefs and practices between the many different native cultures across this continent. From my various anthropology classes, I've learned that there were probably different waves of migration from different parts of the world to North America. Exactly where they were from or when they came is a subject of debate, but there are a handful of ideas that seem to hold water.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Turns out not even the 500 year old geography error is correct. According to this speech by Russel Means
http://www.dickshovel.com/Banks.html

"When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio, meaning "in God.")"

Interesting, eh?

(Disclaimer - I admittedly am taking his word for it w/o a fact check...)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.





Check out Twaggies' very funny clip:

Give a Man a Fish - Twaggies by Twaggies
Email This Post to a Friend
"The Indians of Russia"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window