Chukchee - Settlements

The Chukchee reindeer herders did not have permanent settlements. Rather, they made small nomadic camps of two to three families, usually not exceeding ten to fifteen people. In the nomadic camps there were from one to four yarangas, or tents, although some camps had up to ten. The large camps had from twenty to thirty people. Each camp was a self-sufficient unit. They maintained only loose, friendly relations with their neighbors, with whom they united for festivities or games. The herders who migrated to the coast traded with maritime Chukchee and Eskimos, whereas the Western Chukchee traded with Russians. The yaranga of the Chukchee herders was collapsible, cylindrical, and cone-shaped and was covered with reindeer hide. Inside the tent they set up a bed made of fur, a big sack sewn from thin hides of young reindeer. The tent stretched over thin poles in the form of a large, four-cornered box without an opening for light. In such a "room" one could accommodate several people. The sleeping area was lit and heated by a fat-burning lamp.

Until the mid-nineteenth century the maritime Chukchee traditionally had a wooden, semisubterranean type of house, the poluzemlyanka. The replacement of such houses by the yaranga was a large step forward, significantly facilitating their lives.

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