International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, indigenous peoples in Russia started to organize and a movement emerged that has achieved many developments. The indigenous umbrella organization in Russia, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2000, an occasion for looking back at its work during its 10-year history and at the same time looking forward to the new millennium. Many leaders of indigenous peoples of the North gathered in Moscow for the anniversary celebration and met with people from all over the world, who were invited to join this special event. For this occasion, RAIPON produced a book with articles by indigenous leaders and politicians from all parts of Russia, who outlined the history, events, and conditions of the recent decade.
This book is the translation of the original Russian version and an attempt to strengthen the awareness outside the country of the struggle of indigenous peoples in Russia. Even though this English version is published two years after the important event of RAIPON's tenth anniversary, many statements and articles have not lost their topicality. The book contains articles by representatives of different ages, gender and background, from various regions.
Many of the problems described will be familiar to indigenous peoples in other parts of the world. Discrimination of indigenous peoples is part of everyday life in Russia. The fight for land rights and environmental protection is common to all indigenous peoples of the Arctic and not a specific Russian phenomenon. The conflict between "the greens" (the so-called environmnetal parties) and the indigenous peoples that has dominated the debates in the Western part of the Arctic has, however not occurred in Russia; rather, the conflict between industry and indigenous peoples has a long history. So have all the social problems.
Thomas G. Khler has a graduate degree in Russian and political science. He works as a project consultant (TGK Consult) with indigenous peoples in Russia since 1999.
Kathrin Wessendorf is an anthropologist working for the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) as coordinator for the Arctic region.