On July 29, 2022, on a shore of Lake Baikal, Evenks from all over Russia meet for the first time.
Indigenous people of reindeer herders, they found in the Tungus Congress the opportunity to visit
their original site, the cradle of their culture. More recently, the Evenks occupied a vast territory
from the Yenisei River to Kamchatka, from Yakutia to China.
For an Evenk, the nature that surrounds him is his whole life. Traditional hunters, they have been
roaming the eastern forests of Siberia for centuries. So, the Evenks settled in the taigas of Yakutia,
among larch, blueberry and reindeer moss. They lived in the presence of deer, elk, brown bear, fox,
capercaillie, sable, taimen, pike, whitefish, perch and trout. It is therefore no coincidence that the
toponymy of natural sites has Evenks roots.
For their nobility, ease and courage, these nomads were called “the aristocrats of Siberia”. The
men's official costume, similar to a tail coat, has even earned them the nickname "Frenchman of the
forest". It was they, the Evenks of Yakutia, who guided Russian prospectors to the riches of the
subsoil, playing the role of mushers for geologists whom they taught to survive in a harsh climate.
Like many indigenous peoples elsewhere in the territory, they enabled the industrial development of
the Soviet Union.
Today, Russia is the third largest producer of gold, while one out of three diamonds mined in the
world comes from Yakutia. Somehow, the Evenks cohabit with the industrialists who exploit their
lands sacrificed on the altar of economic growth. They regret it all the more because they hoped for
a better tomorrow for their children. The taiga is massively demolished, the beds of the rivers are
ransacked, the water tables are polluted, and the ethnological expertise in prevention of each
construction site is only too rare, whereas the law systematically requires it.
The preservation of natural environments is however the priority of the Evenks. Without the
reindeer and the environment that nurtures them, they will no longer be able to exist as a people.
But who better than them can protect the planet from climatic upheavals? They, these natives
attached to their land, these natives from the four corners of the world. They are an integral part of
They understand them and know how to maintain them. Let's listen to them!
Even melting permafrost could have a local solution. The event is catastrophic for the northern
regions, but it also affects the whole globe with the release of methane and dangerous bacteria. In
Chersky, Yakutia, the director of the Northeast Scientific Station has his own idea on the matter:
Nikita Zimov has taken up the torch from his father to explain how important large herbivores are
for balancing the environment. In summer, they keep the grass short, limiting the development of
trees that absorb heat from solar radiation. In winter, they clear the snow and allow the earth to cool
faster. Reindeer have their place there, of course, but also yaks, bison, horses, goats... in the end,
maybe it's worth more than all the gold in the world?
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