TUNGUS-MANCHU PEOPLES OF MANCHURIA

NANAY
The Nanay in Russia live mainly in the lower Amur river basin - Khabarovsk kray, Primorye kray, the republic of Sakha (Yakutiya). Nanay also live in Manchuria (China).

The Nanay are closely related to the Ulch, the Oroks and the Oroch, who all consider themselves to be part of the larger Nani group.

By the mid 19th c., the Nanay were caught between Chinese and Russian expansion. From both sides, there were strong pressures to assimilate. North of the Sino-Russian border, immigration of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians was of such a scale that, by 1915, the Nanay were outnumbered more than 100 to 1. Russian and Ukrainian farmers took the best lands, deforested huge areas, hunted the sable to extinction, and thus forced large numbers of Nanay to work as servants and wage laborers in the Russian commercial economy.

After the Bolshevik revolution, the pace of change accelerated. The Nanay economy was collectivized, and the Nanay were forced into ever larger settlements. During World War II, when much of the Soviet industry was moved into Siberia, and there was a lack industrial labour, many young Nanays were recruited to Russian industry. This trend continued also after the war, and by 1970, more than 25% of the Nanay lived in cities. As a result of this urbanization combined with active government efforts to eliminate Nanay as a language of instruction in schools, less than half of the Nanay spoke Nanay as their primary language by 1980.

Soviet industrialization has had disastrous effects on the environment in the traditional Nanay homeland. With Glasnost and the fall of the Soviet Union, the Nanay have strongly protested this trend, and demanded a reduction in industrial development. Contrary to these wishes and demands, the problems of the Russian economy and the heavy reliance on natural resources will probably lead to an acceleration of the industrialization in Siberia, which in turn will make it harder for the Nanay and other indigenous peoples to maintain their culture.


NEGIDAL
The Negidal are a Tungus-Manchurian people of the Far East. They live in the Khabarovsk Krai, mostly in the basin of the Amgun River (the lower Amur tributary in its lower reaches. Some compact settlements of the Negidal are also found in the Nikolaevsk District at the Amur River and Udyl Lake. According to the 1989 Census, their number was 587. They speak the Negidal language of the Tungus-Manchurian language group. The sub-dialects (some researchers consider them dialects) of the Amur lower reaches and the middle reaches, show some differences, caused by the effect of the Ulch (in the lower reaches and Evenk languages. On the whole, the Negidal language is the most close to the Evenk. The language is nonliterate, being used domestically. In 1989, it was considered to be native by 26.6 % of the Negidal (156).

Originally, the Negidal were Evenk, who mingled with the Nivkh, Ulch, and Nanai. They are characterized by numerous features of the Evenk taiga cultures: the methods of harvesting fur-bearing and game mammals, cone-shaped dwelling, broad, kamus-lined skis, chest-bib, skin and fur clothing, with a slit along the mid-line, birch omorochka boat, the shape of the cradle, etc. In the upper Amur River reaches, the riding reindeer husbandry of the Evenk type has been retained. Very considerable is the effect of the lower-Amur River culture : dog breeding, type of sled, dog team pattern, board punt boat, marine mammal hunting, fish skin clothing, and methods of fish skin treatment, etc.

The Russian documents first mention the population of the Amgun River in the 17th century. During that time the first Russian winter log cabins were built there. The information obtained from the Cossacks mentions only the Tungus reindeer-free and reindeer-possessing clans, and the Ghilyak (Nivk) living in the lower reaches of the Amgun River the reports contain no word Negidal, but the clan composition of the Amgun Tungus of the 17th century partly coincides with that of the modern Negidal. The Russians started the population of the lower Amur reaches as late as the second half of the 19th century. By that time, the Negidal social system was characterized by clans and neighbour communities. The clan regulated the marital relations, and cooperation customs. Being very small, the clans were united into the dokha unions, including unions with members of other tribes. All the clans were exterritorial. Mixed marriages were widely practised. The rural community had no fixed territory. Each family was an independent unit, and was engaged in individual economy. The Negidal were administered on a basis common of all other Siberian peoples. Administratively, they belonged to the Ud District, and were formally recorded as Orthodox Christians. The Census of 1897 recorded 423 Negidal, and by the year 1926, their number rose to 683. During the Soviet period, the Negidal culture has undergone great changes. Today, they all live in several built-up areas jointly with Russians and other peoples. Their dwellings, means of transportation, occupations do not differ from those of the surrounding population. Ethically mixed families predominate. Along with that, the national awareness of the Negidal is very stable.

The Negidal are traditional fishermen and hunters. Fishery played a leading role in the lower reaches of the Amgun river and at the Amur River. The Negidal of the upper reaches, fishing and hunting were supplemented by reindeer herding of the transport type. The Negidal hunted throughout the year. The wild reindeer and moose were harvested for subsistence. The sable was the most important furbearer. The fur-bearing mammals were hunted by reindeer-riders, and in the lower reaches of the Amgun river, the hunter walked with a hand sled. In search of the sable, the hunters would reach the Amur liman, Sakhalin, the Gorin and Khungari basins. The pelts obtained were marketed. The hunting methods and equipment did not differ from those used by the Evenk. Some Negidal widely practiced the harvesting of marine mammals in the Amur liman and off the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk. Seals were hunted, using rifles and spears. In the early 20th century, the Negidal became engaged in winter cabbing, using dogs and reindeer. Vegetable gardening also became popular.

The religious beliefs of the Negidal have very much in common with those of the Ulch. They believed that the Universe comprised three worlds, situated one above the other. The Upper World is the firmament, consisting of 9 spheres. The middle world ("Tui") is the earth surface, which has a single layer. The deceased live in the lower, subterranean, world. The sky was considered the ultimate force, and its spiritual assistants were the sun and the moon, having the beneficial power. The worshipping of the sun found reflection in the decorative art of the Negidal. Among other spirits, particularly respected were Sinken (taiga guardian, spirit guardian of all beasts), Uiguli (spirit guardian of the bears), Tamun (water guardian), Podya (spirit guardian of the fire). The master spirits were depicted in the form of flat anthropomorphic figures, which were installed in a larch tree at the clan worshipping site. A number of beliefs relating to various ethnic traditions are associated with the bear. According to one of them, borrowed from the Nivkh, the bear is the mountain man Uei Beienin. The second set of beliefs regarding the bear Duente (the guardian spirit of taiga) is characteristic of all the Tungus-Manchurian peoples of the Amur. The killing of a bear was accompanied with a festival. The bones and the skull of the killed bear were buried thoroughly. In log houses, they also buried the killed tiger. The beliefs of the role of the bear and tiger are manifested in the shaman pantheon. The increasing role of the furbearer harvest in the life of the people gave rise to the belief in a furbearer hunt guardian spirit. The folklore comprises legends, folk tales, proverbs, and sayings.


NIVKH
The Nivkh are a Tungus-Manchurian people, related to two other Sakhalin peoples, the Ainu and the Goldi. The history of Sakhalin before Russian occupation is full of wars between these peoples, especially between the Nivkh and the Ainu.

The first contact between the Russians and the Nivkh occurred in 1645, when a Russian expedition led by Cossack V.D. Poyarkov camped in a Nivkh settlement at the mouth of the Amur river. In 1850, the Russian government annexed the Amur Delta, including some Nivkh territory. Five years later a Russo-Japanese condominium was established over Sakhalin, where the other half of the Nivkh live. When Russia ceded the Kurile Islands to Japan in 1875, Sakhalin became part of the Russian Empire, and was used as a penal colony until 1905. When the Civil War broke out in Russia after the Revolution, local people on Sakhalin invited the Japanese to take advantage of the power vacuum and occupy the island. Conflicts between Bolsheviks and Japanese on the island culminated with the Nikolayevsk massacre in March 1920, when Red forces murdered countless "reactionaries".

In 1922, the area was merged into the Soviet Union as part of the RSFSR. Three small national areas were established for the Nivkh, two on Sakhalin and one at the Amur delta. The Nivkh were collectivized, and their traditional forms of self-government were destroyed.

In the new situation that was created by Glasnost and by the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Nivkh joined 25 other native Siberian peoples in establishing the Association of Peoples of the North. The Nivkh Vladimir Sangi was elected President of the Association. A major concern of Sangi and other Nivkh leaders has been the development of oil shale deposits in the sea off Sakhalin Island, which may cause serious environmental damage.


OROCHI
The Orochi are a Tungus-Manchurian people. The live mostly in the Khabarovsk Krai, mostly in the Sovetskaya Gavan and Vanino districts. The native name of the Orochi is Orochisel. There is also another form of native name, borrowed from the Nanai: Nani. In 1989, the number of the Orochi was estimated at 915. The Orochi speak the Orochi language, which is attributed to the southern (Manchurian) subgroup of the Tungus-Manchurian languages. This is an nonliterate language. Morphologically it is the closest to the Tungus group. The younger people speak only Russian.

It is widely believed that the Orochi were established as a result of interaction of autochtonous tribes of the Primorie with newcomers of Tungus origin. In fact, anthropologically, the Orochi, together with the Nivkh, and, partly, Ulch pertain to the most ancient Amur-Sakhalin type, however, they also show a later Baikal type features, characteristic of some Tungus. A strong Tungus influence is also indicated by linguistic evidence. It is known that the Orochi language is much closer to the Evenk than the languages of all other peoples of the Cis-Amur Region. A certain role in the evolution of the Orochi ethnos was also played by the Nivkh, Ainu, and tribes of Mongolian origin.

A notable Russian influence on the Orochi culture has been manifested since the second half of the 19th century. By that time, the Orochi occupied a large area on the coast of the Sea of Japan from De Castri in the north to the mouth of the Botcha River in the south. At the end of the 19th century some of the Orochi moved to the Amur and Khungari rivers. The Orochi living in the region of the Imperatorskaya (Sovetskaya) Gavan, retreated northward to the Syurkuma Region. At the beginning of the 20th century, a small group moved to Sakhalin. As a result, five territorial Orochi groupings were established, differing in cultural properties: the Amur, Khungari, Tumninskaya, Primorskaya (Khadinskaya) and Kopninskaya. In the 20th century the ethnic range of the Orochi has been invariably dwindling. The collective and Soviet farms and the construction of fish industry projects promoted the concentration of the population in the area adjacent to economic centers, and mingled members of different groups. The Khungari, Koppinskaya and Khaldinskaya virtually disappeared. Today, the largest Orochi settlements, the villages Datta and Uska Orochskaya are in the Vanino District.

Hunting is the main Orochi occupation. The harvested animals were the musk deer, Siberian stag, moose, wild boar, squirrel, sable, seal, and other mammals, and also waterfowl and forest game birds. Furbearers were tracked down and taken by means of a hair loop, set on trees placed across streams and small rivers. With the onset of heavy frosts the deadfall traps langu were mostly used. Fishing played a no less important role than hunting. The Orochi fished throughout the year, but the best season was August to October when the humpback salmon and keta reached their river spawning grounds. At the beginning of the 20th century, commercial fishery was started on the coast of the Tatar Strait, and the Orochi began marketing their catch. Gathering was only auxiliary. Women gathered wild onions, sarana, stub-wort, coltsfoot, ramson, roots of wild lily, nettles, various berries, which served both for food and as medicine. To prevent scurvy in spring, they used ramson, wild onions, and garlic. The plantain juice proved good in case of gastrointestinal diseases. In case of stomach ache, they drank a redcurrant extract.

The Orochi were animists. The worshipping of the tiger and the bear was well-developed. Some special rituals were performed in their honor, and they were considered to be the ancestors. The cult of the bear and the tiger is closely associated with the twin cult. The Orochi believed that spirits took part in their birth, most often animal ancestors. The birth of the twins was regarded by them as a gift of fate. Unusual natural objects were widely worshipped. Until the mid-1930's the Orochi widely used shaman services. The shamanism was the core of spiritual culture, although it did not turn into the dominant form of religious beliefs. The national intelligentsia greatly contribute to the Orochi present-day cultural life.


OROCH
The Oroch are closely related to the Ulch, Nanay, Orok and Udegey, all of whom consider themselves to be part of the Nani group. Their languages are mutually intelligible.

The living conditions of the Oroch changed radically after the Bolshevik revolution. Before that, they had been able to live in relative peace from the outside world. But in the 1930's, they were pressured to leave their original homelands and settle permanently. Most of them eventually ended up in the village Uska in the Sovetskaya Gavan rayon of Khabarovsk kray. They were organized into fishing collectives, and schools were built where their children learned Russian. By the mid-1980's, only about one third of the Oroch claimed Oroch as their mother tongue.

Soviet industrialization has severely damaged the environment, and brought tens of thousands of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians to their area, so that the Oroch now constitute only a small fraction of the population in their region. The Oroch are protesting what has happened to them, and an Association of the Oroch has been established to lobby for environmental protection of their homeland. The survival of the Oroch culture faces a difficult challenge.


OROKS
The Oroks are closely related to the Ulch, Nanay, Oroch and Udegey, all of whom consider themselves to be part of the Nani group. Their languages are mutually intelligible. The Oroks originate from the Udegey, Nanay, Ulch, Negidal, Nivkh and Evenk peoples.

The living conditions of the Oroch changed radically after the Bolshevik revolution. Before, they had been able to live in relative peace from the outside world. During the 1930's, they were brought into reindeer collectives, and their traditional lifestyle was limited.

At the outbreak of World War II, there were about 300 Oroks in southern Sakhalin, who came under Japanese occupation. After the war, Soviet officials executed many of them for collaborating with the Japanese. Many of the survivors migrated to Japan, where they have been assimilated.


UDEGEY
The Udegey live in the Sikhote-Alin mountains and on the coast of the Sea of Japan - Khabarovsk kray, Primorye kray (Nanay, Khabarovsk, Lazo, Pozhar, Krasnoarmeyskiy, Terneyskiy rayons).

The Udegey are closely related to the Ulch, Nanay, Orok and Oroch, all of whom consider themselves to be part of the Nani group. Their languages are mutually intelligible.

The Udegey enjoyed realtive freedom from Russian cultural and political pressure until the 19th c. They were hunters, organized into powerful clans.

In the 19th c., then, the Udegey were caught between Chinese and Russian expansion. From both sides, there were strong pressures to assimilate. After the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1907, Udegey territory received a large influx of Russian and Ukrainian settlers. They seriously damaged Udegey hunting lands, forcing the Udegey to migrate further north.

During the Civil War years after the Bolshevik Revolution, the southern parts of the Russian Far East were turned into a battleground for White and Red forces as well as Japanese soldiers, and the native peoples were subject to rape, destruction of property and outright murder. Relative peace was established in 1925.

The Udegey tried to avoid contact with the Russians, but they were tracked down by Soviet agents, and subjected to collectivization. Collectivization was a failure among the Udegey, however, as inter-clan rivalries disrupted collective operations.

During World War II, when much of the Soviet industry was moved into Siberia, and there was a of lack industrial labour, many young Udegey were recruited to Russian industry. This trend continued also after the war, leading to a radical change in social structures. The Udegey became more and more russified, and by the 1970's, more than 70% of them spoke Russian as their native language.

Soviet economic policies of the 1980's laid waste large parts of the Udegey hunting grounds. Udegey leaders protested, and in the enlightened political environment of Glasnost, they were given economic control over the Samarga River valley in 1990.


ULCH
The Ulch are closely related to the Udegey, Nanay, Orok and Oroch, all of whom consider themselves to be part of the Nani group. Their languages are mutually intelligible. The Ulch are descended from a group of Tungus tribes which came from Manchuria, and from the Jurchens, ancestors of the 16th c. Manchus.

The Ulch are a relatively settled people, occasionally shifting locations between seasons. Tribal loyalties were traditionally relatively weak, and Ulch also often intermarried with neighbouring Negidals, Nanay, Oroks and Ainu.

Russia annexed the Amur delta in 1850 and established a settlement at Nikolayevsk-na-Amur. During the Civil War years after the Bolshevik Revolution, the Lower Amur region was turned into a battleground where the native peoples, including the Ulch, were subject to rape, destruction of property and outright murder. Relative peace was established in 1925.

Collectivization began in the late 1920's, and was not so difficult with the already half-settled Ulch. By 1930, they were all collectivized, and by 1934, there were seven schools for Ulch children. Instruction was in Russian.

During World War II, when much of the Soviet industry was moved into Siberia, and there was a lack of industrial labour, many young Ulch were recruited to Russian industry. This trend continued also after the war, leading to a radical change in Ulch social structures. A wide generation gap gradually emerged, between younger Ulch who had attended Russian schools and their parents and grandparents who still held traditional beliefs and lived in the traditional way. In 1980, only one third of the Ulch spoke Ulch as their mother tongue.

Soviet industrialization has had disastrous effects on the environment in the Lower Amur region. With Glasnost and the fall of the Soviet Union, the indigenous peoples of the area have strongly protested this trend, and demanded a reduction in industrial development.

Source: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs [NUPI] - Centre for Russian Studies
Photos: Konstantin Mikhailov


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