Orok - Orientation



The Orok are one of the indigenous peoples of Sakhalin Island. They are divided into two groups: the Southern Orok live near the Bay of Patience and the Northern Orok on the Val River. The Russians on Sakhalin have erroneously called them "Orochi" or "Orochoni" In the census of 1897, 446 Northern and 334 Southern Orok were counted. In later censuses, they were not distinguished as a separate People of the North. According to the data of ethnographic researchers during the 1970s, the Orok population stood at about 450 to 500. They continue to speak their native language, which is a member of the Manchu-Tungusic Branch of the Altaic Family. Despite the linguistic similarity of the two peoples, the Orok almost never came into contact with those Evenki who had moved over to Sakhalin in the 1860s.

Soviet linguists maintained that there are ancient Altaic residues in the languages of the Orok, the mainland Ul'cha, and the Nanai, which would point to the great antiquity of the settlement by these three peoples in this territory. It has also been maintained that in both Orok culture and language, there are many ancient autochthonous (non-Nivkh and non-Tungusic) traces. All this new information refutes earlier claims that the Orok were later settlers on the island.


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