Indigenous Russian Delegation Visits Akwesasne

Feb 20, 2013

Six indigenous leaders from the Russian Far East (RFE) paid a visit to the Akwesasne Territory on February 13 and 14, 2013. The visit was hosted through the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) via the International Center of the Capital Region of Albany. The purpose of the program is “Building Sustainable Sustainable Communities with Indigenous People: Supporting Use of Common Resources.”

The purpose was to meet and discuss issues concerning the environment, retention of culture, self-governance and journalism. During their visit they met with officials from the tribe’s Environment Division, visited the Akwesasne Museum, met with Chief Ron LaFrance, Chief Randy Hart, Chief Paul O. Thompson and Sub-Chief Eric Thompson from the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council and Chiefs Brian David and Steve Thomas of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. They also met with Native journalist Ray Cook. “It’s clear that these indigenous people face many of the same issues as we do in North America,” commented Tribal Chief Randy Hart. “Sharing information will hopefully let them better face them.”

They face numerous problems as economic development and outsiders encroach further into their ancestral lands and hinder their traditional way of life. This includes loss of language and culture, loss of traditional economic activities such as hunting, reindeer herding and fishing.
Nineteen minority ethnic groups make up about 100,000 of the just over six million inhabitants of the region. The largest of the groups are the Evenk (30,000 people), Chukchi (15,000), Nanais (12,000), and Koryak (9,000). Most of the indigenous peoples live in small villages close to their traditional subsistence areas where they pursue reindeer-herding, hunting, raising stock, fishing, and harvesting wild plants.

The six individuals were Mr. Alexander Gavrilyevich Grigorev, Chair, Association of the Indigenous Nomadic Clans, Ms. Olga Yurievna Khuriun, Office of Culture of Indigenous Peoples, North State Institution of Culture, Mr. Aleksei Victorovich Kudriavtcev, Game Warden,
TIGER Indigenous Community, Mr. Fedor Sergeevich Mygun, Chief Editor, Nivkh Diff Newspaper, Ms. Liubov Vladimirovna Passar, President, Regional Public Organization of Indigenous Peoples and Ms. Evgeniia Gennadyevna Tynetegina, First Vice-President, Association of Indigenous Peoples, North Kamchatka. Two translators accompanied them.

Their visit to Akwesasne was part of a larger visit to the U.S. They also traveled to Seattle, Washington, Albuquerque New Mexico to meet with other tribes and to discuss issues such as education, hunting and fishing rights, health care and youth programming.
“We are happy and proud that they chose to visit our Mohawk community here in Akwesasne,” said Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance. “We can all learn from each other and find ways to preserve our cultural heritages, languages and way of life.” The delegation will return to Russia on February 17, 2013.

For more information contact David T. Staddon, Director of Public Information at 518-358-2272, ext. 286.

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