Environmental Knowledgeof the North


Indigenous knowledge and traditional values in interaction with nature are set in relation to the results of natural science research.


Fishing is one of the most important livelihoods for all the peoples of the North and is done on the coasts, but mainly in the seasonal rhythm of fish migration along the rivers. Fish stocks also serve as food for dog teams and thus provided reliable transportation, especially in the past. Fish is prepared in many ways and preserved by drying, smoking and, in more recent times – salting.

Photo: S. Dudeck

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Together with fishing, hunting of marine mammals provides an important livelihood for coastal populations. In addition, there is hunting of larger land animals as well as small game, according to their varying occurrence in different parts of the country. Thus, hunting provides reliable food in all seasons. Furs have played an important role especially in the past – primarily as a means of exchange and as a commodity.

Photo: E. Kasten

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Reindeer herding

Reindeer were initially used only for transportation purposes. Over time, they were kept in larger herds in order to supply consistently available meat food. To this end, people had to adapt their way of life to the animals' pasture migrations. For many inland populations, reindeer still represent their main source of livelihood and also provide important materials for clothing.

Photo: Reindeer herd of Evens in central Kamchatka. E. Kasten

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Gathering plants

The short snow-free period of summer is used to collect vitamin-rich plants and berries, which are preserved in a variety of ways for the winter.

Photo: E. Kasten

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Threats to sustainable nature relations

Climate change, environmental impacts from industrial production or other inappropriate behavior in dealing with nature, even within indigenous communities, can threat their natural livelihoods.

Photo: S. Dudeck

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Worldview and Ritual

In worldview and ritual, particular values in dealing with nature are expressed and communicated to others and especially to younger generations. This provides the necessary orientation to implement the transmitted environmental knowledge in practice and in everyday life with regard to sustainable relations swith nature.

Photo: During the Kilvej feast in Achaivaiam. E. Kasten

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Natural sciences research

Natural science research on climate change and sustainable nature relations will be linked to and complement the environmental knowledge of indigenous peoples.

Photo: The Alfred Wegener Institute research team travels on the frozen Lena River from Tiksi to Samoylov Station. (Photo: Thomas Opel, Alfred Wegener Institute, Potsdam, Germany)

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Transmission of environmental knowledge to younger generations

The main objective of this initiative is sustaining indigenous knowledge of the natural environment and how it can be passed on to future generations. To this end, new methods must be developed to combine traditional forms of indigenous knowledge transfer with modern digital technologies using social media.

Photo: School teaching with the use of the DVD Traditional Knowledge in the World of Koryak fishing. E. Kasten

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