Koryaks and Kerek - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. If the whole multilevel administrative system of Russia is taken into consideration, Koryaks have autonomy at the lowest level. Even this 0autonomy is more nominal than real, however, because Koryaks are a minority in their autonomous district and cannot influence political and economic life in it.

Political Organization. There were Koryaks who were members of the Communist party of Russia, party activists, and administrative workers. One or two Koryaks were permanent representatives in the Supreme Council of Russia.

Conflict. The history of the Koryaks, especially those who were nomadic, is filled with conflicts with neighboring peoples—Even, Yukagir, Chukchee, and keimen. The word "war" ( tan'nicetyijnin ) is etymologically related to the word "stranger" ( tan'nitan ) . The Koryaks were usually defeated by the Even, but they pressed the Yukagir rather mercilessly. In the first half of the eighteenth century, fighting between Koryaks and Chukchee, who continually seized reindeer herds and captives from Koryaks, had a bitter character. Reconciliation with the Chukchee took place in the second half of the eighteenth century. Hostilities with the Even were resolved at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Koryaks sought help from the Russian administration, and it played an active role in all these events. Nevertheless, the Koryaks carried out separate revolts against Russians and attacks on Russian strongholds (Russian: ostrozhki ) . In the first third of the nineteenth century the location of Koryaks who were pressured by Even and Chukchee was stabilized within the modern northern boundary of the Koryak Autonomous District.

On the southern boundary, Koryak reindeer herders penetrated with their herds down to Cape Lopatka (the southern extremity of Kamchatka). This penetration brought resistance from the keimen who were, however, not able to force the Koryaks out of Kamchatka. The situation stabilized after the arrival of Russians. The smallpox epidemic that descended on Kamchatka in 1768-1769 did not spare Koryaks. The modern southern boundary of the Koryak Autonomous District includes the territories that are inhabited by remaining keimen of the western coast.


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