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Elena Shumakova, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District: “These are unique places of power that nurture a person”

Date: June 17, 2024 Time: 03:55:25

Elena Shumakova in the Komsomolskaya Pravda studio at SPIEF 2023

Photo: Andrei MINAEV

Support for the indigenous peoples of the North has become one of the priorities of socio-economic policy in the Arctic regions. One of the most optimal forms of such support is ethnographic tourism. What it is? How to visit a real pest? And how does all this help to preserve the traditional way of life of the indigenous peoples of the North? Elena Shumakova, Deputy Governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District (KhMAO), spoke about this and not only at the Komsomolskaya Pravda studio at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

– You are a co-organizer of the Soul of Russia festival, which was held as part of SPIEF. Tell us briefly, what is it?

– Yes, this is a great festival “The Soul of Russia – the North”. It was held at the site of the Lenfilm film studio as part of the SPIEF. This is our big joint project: the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, the Roscongress Foundation and the government of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (Yugra). Why Yugra? Because in many ways this idea was born in our region. And at the last forum we brought a great exhibition “Heart of Yugra”. It is about how a photo artist from Moscow came to our region and simply fell in love with her, told about her love for indigenous people, for our unique nature, culture, traditions, crafts and crafts. Having seen the great resonance that this exhibition caused, we decided to go further and already on the site of the Eastern Economic Forum, together with Roscongress and the Ministry for the Development of the Far East, a large house of indigenous peoples and the first festival. “Heart of Yugra” appeared. Then he had already united several regions of the country and showed how important it is for the representatives of the indigenous peoples of the north, those who write ethnic music, are engaged in ethnic fashion, work in such a direction as ethnic theater, craftsmen and craftsmen to exchange including the opportunities they have. And what is probably more important is to attract young people. Because the culture of the indigenous peoples of the north lives in camps, in the tundra, in the taiga, in hard-to-reach remote settlements, and it is very important to involve representatives of modern creative industries in making modern products. of creative activity based on this rich heritage. This includes cinema, animation, comics of various kinds and those modern genres that will transmit the primordial tradition and philosophy of life of the indigenous peoples of the North to the entire country and the entire world.

– In recent years, the issue of support for the indigenous peoples of the North has been high on the agenda for the development of the Far East and the Arctic. Does this have anything to do with Russia’s presidency of the Arctic Council?

– It seems to me that there has been a really big change, because it is attention to the languages ​​of the indigenous peoples of the North. One of the issues that Russia raised during her presidency of the Arctic Council is the preservation of languages, the use of modern computer technologies to create corpuses of national languages. And we are working very closely in this direction with UNESCO, because as long as the language lives, the people live. There is an opportunity to transfer knowledge, primordial traditions. And here, too, a very big step has been taken in terms of using modern technological platforms, such as Yandex, to create these native language online translators. The second important direction is the creative industry. A lot of support is given to those indigenous people who live in camps, are engaged in reindeer herding, the extraction of aquatic biological resources and the production of modern food products based on them. Here I would like to put special emphasis on cinema, because this is what allows you to bring the culture of indigenous peoples, to transmit it to the whole world. At the Soul of Russia – North festival, our Spirit of Fire academy presented a special ethnocinema program. These are films that are shot in different regions of Russia and tell about people living in the north, about nature, the possibilities of ethnotourism, the opportunity to visit real camps, feel the culture and cuisine of indigenous peoples. It seems to me that this is very important, because now, when special attention is paid to the development of domestic tourism, the possibilities of ethnic culture are colossal. This is a very popular address today.

– Are these activities already available to a wide range of tourists?

– If we talk about our region, the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (Ugra), then this direction of tourism is very actively developing here. We have ethnic camps. Last year, 140,000 people were able to visit them and take advantage of this tourist offer. When you come to the camp, you understand in a new way, both through yourself and your own life experience, what sustainable development is. What is a connection with nature, what is harmony with nature, what are natural forces. Because these are unique places of power that nurture a person. During the pandemic, this type of tourism received a whole new round of growth. Not only because you find yourself alone with nature, secluded from civilization, but also because you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in traditional recipes related to health, with the preservation of active longevity, and the culture of indigenous peoples is very rich in these kinds of recipes. even ways to treat coronavirus using only plants, herbs. Therefore, this is also a very interesting story from this side, plus a topic related to fishing, hunting and learning how it was done since ancient times by indigenous peoples is in high demand.

– Tell us more about this tour. What is he really?

– We have different ethnic camps operating on the territory of the region. You come to the taiga, you live in the chum, you can cook traditional food with your family: this is venison, fish that you can catch yourself. You can pick berries yourself, watch and participate in the preparation of various types of pies from them. Delicious bread made by indigenous peoples. unique recipes. So you can swim. We have many rivers and lakes. In this case, this is active tourism, this is ecological tourism, this is also ethnographic tourism, because you learn a lot about culture. In addition, in all these tours you can participate in learning trades and crafts. This is work with beads, work with bark, the creation of various types of amulets, including those that symbolize primordial values. For example, the spirits of the forest, the spirits of the bear. Because the bear is a sacred animal of the indigenous peoples. And it is believed that if you have passed the “Bear Games” ceremony, then you have received an incredible connection with the earth, with the cosmos, that is, you are capable of great achievements. And also the ethnosport. If you come in winter, then we have a “Reindeer Herders Tournament” – these are races on reindeer sleighs and dog sleds.

– How to get to these interesting places? They’re probably a long way from civilization…

– We have convenient logistics. Only three hours flight from Moscow. You arrive, 100 kilometers, and you find yourself in a camp. So in this case it is not such extreme tourism. And who loves extreme sports, here we also have a unique opportunity – the Subpolar Urals. In Yugra is the highest point of the Urals and Siberia – Mount Narodnaya. There is an opportunity in the mountains, in the foothills to live in glamping, climb, get into the mines. There are unique places where you can see frozen snowflakes all year round – these are caves. There are many Red Book plants. You get incredible inspiration from these places of power, from harmony with nature.

– My eyes are wide open, now I want to go everywhere…

– You have that opportunity. Literally next month, from July 6 to 8, we will have a big ethnocultural festival near Khanty-Mansiysk. These are our traditional obla races. These are narrow boats of the indigenous peoples of the North. There will be many other events around this event: ethnomusic, ethnofashion, you will be able to take part in various master classes, watch performances. We have a professional theater of the indigenous peoples of the North “El Sol”, which not only creates shows and productions, but you yourself can participate in these actions, immerse yourself in mythology, in the ethnic group of indigenous peoples.

– This is a great economic support for the indigenous peoples of the North. They get their income from the sale of deer meat, and now also tourism brings additional income…

– Yes, it is very important. We work, above all, to create employment, to create new jobs. We implement educational programs, we train representatives of indigenous peoples in entrepreneurial activities, the basics of working in creative industries, and then, through the system of a certain state conveyor, we help those who create unique artisan products to create certain packaging, marketing, promote them through the markets and thus create employment without losing identity and maintaining a traditional way of life. In addition, it is very important here that modern digital technologies allow you to stay and live in the camps. We have a unique Camping School-Kindergarten project, when the Internet works even in the most remote camps, we provide access to all public services, people have the opportunity to get an education without leaving the camp, children study in the garden of infants from the camp, through digital technologies, and thus allow children to stay with their parents and at the same time receive a quality education, and also sell services, including ethnotourism, through the possibilities of the Internet and the social networks.


SPIEF-2023 was held from June 14 to 17 in Saint Petersburg. According to the Roscongress Foundation, more than 17,000 people from 130 countries and territories participated. The main theme of the forum is “Sovereign development is the foundation of a just world. Let’s join forces for the sake of future generations.” Komsomolskaya Pravda is the official media partner of the event.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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