There are over 100 identified ethnic groups in Russia. Of them, 41 are legally recognized as “Indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East.” These are the only groups that are legally protected as Indigenous peoples; to meet the requirements, a group of peoples must number fewer than 50,000 people, maintain a traditional way of life, inhabit certain remote areas of the country, and identify as a distinct ethnic group. Some groups are disqualified because of their larger populations, such as the Sakha (Yakuts), Buryat, Komi, and Khakas; others are currently striving to get recognition. Additionally, there are 24 larger ethnic groups that are identified as national identities or titular nations. These groups inhabit independent states or autonomous areas in Russia, but do not have specific protections under the law.
The smallest of these Indigenous groups are the Enets (350 people) and the Oroks (450 people), while the largest are the Nenets and Evenkis, which both have nearly 30,000 members. Of the 41 peoples, ten have fewer than 1,000 members and eleven live beyond the Arctic Circle. At least 16 of these peoples have such small populations that they are considered to be endangered; at least eleven have been declared extinct. Though Russia’s Indigenous peoples only make up 0.2% of the total population, or 250,000 people total, they inhabit about 2/3 of Russia’s territory.
The Indigenous peoples of Russia are so varied and diverse that it would be a disservice to try and provide a cultural overview. They do have some characteristics in common: many are nomadic or seminomadic, practice animism, and have lifestyles based on hunting, gathering, fishing, and reindeer herding. In many of these groups, an adherence to traditional lifestyle has become even more important since the collapse of the Soviet economy. The languages of the Indigenous groups of Russia are numerous, but most of them belong to one of three main ethno-linguistic groups: Uralic, Altaic, and Paleo-Siberian. We highly encourage you to look into the amazing cultures of the individual tribes – this website provides a great starting point with introductions to each group.
Unfortunately, the Indigenous peoples of Russia also share many common problems. Russia has not ratified ILO Convention 169. Though Indigenous Peoples are protected under Article 69 of the Russian Constitution, the implementation of protective laws and regulations are often not adequately enforced or are complicated by government decisions regarding natural resource use in the North. There are currently 70 places of potential conflict between local groups and extractive projects – for example, nickel mining has intruded on many reindeer pastures and sacred sites. In November 2011, the Committee of the Federation Council on Northern Affairs and Affairs of Indigenous Small-Numbered Peoples, the only federal legislation body specializing in Indigenous Affairs, was dissolved, along with several regional specialized government bodies.
In July 2012, Russia passed a law designating non-profits that accept foreign funding and participate in “political” activities such as Indigenous rights as “foreign agents,” subjecting many Indigenous organizing groups to more legal obligations and stigmatization. In November 2012, the government suspended the activities of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON). Founded in 1990, RAIPON represents 42 Indigenous groups in Russia and is a permanent member of the crucial Arctic Council.
In 2001 the government adopted a law “On the Territories of Traditional Nature Use,” the only serious attempt to ensure Indigenous Peoples land-use rights to the land on which they depend for subsistence. However, since the law has gone into effect not a single Territory of Traditional Nature
Use (TTNU) has been established. Many Indigenous groups also suffer from insufficient fishing rights – in 2008 an amendment to federal law removed provisions of priority for access to fishing grounds for Indigenous peoples, and stipulated that Indigenous peoples may only fish for their personal needs. This excludes obshchinas, or Indigenous cooperatives – in many territories, the largest providers of income and employment for Indigenous peoples. There are over 2,300 obshchinas across Russia. It is also very difficult for nomadic fishers to obtain licenses, and they face heavy fines for fishing without a license.
These problems only make currently existing problems with unemployment and poverty worse. Unemployment in Indigenous populations is 1.5-2 times higher than in the general Russian population, and incomes are 2-3 times lower. Indigenous peoples suffer from a lack of clean drinking water, inadequate food, and insufficient drinking water. These problems contribute to numerous health problems such as tuberculosis, viral hepatitis, intestinal infections, upper respiratory infections, and alcoholism.
In the Indigenous communities of Russia, tuberculosis (TB), a health problem that is virtually nonexistent in developed nations, occurs at a rate of 3 times the national average. Maternal and child mortality is much higher in Indigenous territories – in some territories, the mortality rate is several times higher than the birth rate. Because of these issues, life expectancy for Indigenous peoples is much shorter than the already relatively short Russian life expectancy – 50 years for men and 60 years for women, compared to 64 years for men and 70 years for women in the general Russian population.
The Indigenous peoples of Russia also face many threats to their traditional cultures. For example, today only 10% of Siberia’s tribal people live a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle, compared to 70% about 30 years ago. Since 2002, the population of 24 of the Russian Indigenous groups has declined, with only 10 increasing in membership. This is due primarily to a decline in self-identification with the tribe as well as assimilation with the Russian population. 90% of the population of Northern Russia has migrated there within the past two centuries, and patterns of forced promotion of the Russian language and culture have eroded many of the smaller Indigenous cultures. The proliferation of Russian-language public schools and boarding schools and mass media such as newspapers, television, and radio produced in Russia has threatened Indigenous languages – there are now 148 endangered languages in Russia.
The problems facing the Indigenous peoples of Russian are severe – but so is the will and resolve of the people. Having already survived incredible hardships – both environmental and political – the Russian Indigenous peoples evidently find great strength in their ancestors, culture, and ability to be both resilient and adaptive. Perhaps now, with the world turned towards Russia, is a good time for the rest of us to lend some support.
“I must say that the charm of the Arctic, its infinite diversity, its aloofness from the rest of the world, made it a field which gives its own reward. Only those who have seen the magnificent sunsets over the ice, who have…been buffeted by storms… can appreciate the spell which always draws us back there.”
― Louise Arner Boyd
Sailing towards the west coast of Greenland in the war-torn summer of 1941, the Effie M. Morrissey navigated its way through a narrow fjord and anchored off the town of Julianehaab. The American ship appeared vulnerable and run-down next to the impressive U.S. Coast Guard vessels Bowdoin and Comanche.
It was a perilous time. Only eight weeks before, a British cargo vessel had been torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat off Cape Farewell just to the south. As newly minted members of the Greenland Patrol of the Atlantic Fleet, the Bowdoin and the Comanche were responsible for preventing German forces from establishing a base on Greenland and for providing vital support for the Allies.
As the Morrissey’s passengers disembarked, town residents gathered onshore. Commander Donald Macmillan of the Bowdoin hurried forward to greet the person in charge. Defying all expectations, the leader was no grizzled Navy man. Instead, a stately, well-coiffed California woman of a certain age clambered out of the rowboat and strode toward him.
Louise Arner Boyd was the world’s leading female Arctic explorer and geographer. By that time, she had organized, financed and led six maritime expeditions to East Greenland, Franz Josef Land, Jan Mayen Land and Spitsbergen. She had been showered with honors by five countries, and her scientific accomplishments and daring exploits had earned her newspaper headlines and global renown. A month earlier, many journalists had covered the departure of the 1941 Louise A. Boyd Expedition to Greenland from Washington D.C. But after the Morrissey weighed anchor, more than a few local residents wondered what this outspoken, unusual woman was doing in the company of high-ranking officers engaged in war matters.
The answer to that question was a secret. Boyd, operating under the guise of her work as an explorer, was conducting a covert mission for the American government, searching for possible military landing sites and investigating the improvement of radio communications in this region. Even the captain and crew of her own ship were unaware of the expedition’s true goals.
Boyd’s extensive technical knowledge of Greenland and her work as a U.S. military consultant would make her an invaluable asset to the Allied war effort. But, for all her accomplishments and service to her country, she has largely been forgotten, and not just because historians preferred to consider the larger-than-life dramas of her male colleagues. Her focus on contributing to scientific journals rather than pandering to the sensationalistic whims of the reading public cost her some acclaim. And she had no direct descendants to carry on her legacy.
Her 1941 mission along the western coast of Greenland and eastern Arctic Canada was Boyd’s seventh and final expedition. As on her previous voyages, she pushed the boundaries of geographic knowledge and undertook hazardous journeys to dangerous places. Boyd also brought in promising young scientists to participate in vital polar research. Exploration of the Arctic seascape—with its vast expanses of bobbing ice, the rhythmic sway of the wooden ship as it traversed the surging waves, the soothing solitude of the north—resonated deeply with Boyd and defined who she was and what she did.
“Far north, hidden behind grim barriers of pack ice, are lands that hold one spell-bound,” she wrote in 1935's The Fiord Region of East Greenland. “Gigantic imaginary gates, with hinges set in the horizon, seem to guard these lands. Slowly the gates swing open, and one enters another world where men are insignificant amid the awesome immensity of lonely mountains, fiords and glaciers.”
But her life had not always been like this. Born in 1887 to a California gold miner who struck it rich and a patrician mother from Rochester, Louise Arner Boyd was raised in a genteel mansion in San Rafael, California. As a child, she was enthralled by real-life tales of polar exploration, but grew up expecting to marry and have children. Like her mother, Boyd became a socialite and philanthropist active in community work.
READ MORE : SMITHSONIAN.COM
"Shortly before Christmas in 1943, five Army aviators left Alaska's Ladd Field on a routine flight to test their hastily retrofitted B-24 Liberator in harsh winter conditions. The mission ended in a crash that claimed all but one—Leon Crane, a city kid from Philadelphia with no wilderness experience. With little more than a parachute for cover and an old Boy Scout knife in his pocket, Crane found himself alone in subzero temperatures. 81 Days Below Zero recounts, for the first time, the full story of Crane's remarkable twelve-week saga."
"In 81 Days Below Zero, Brian Murphy rediscovers one of the most astounding survival stories in Alaskan history. The account is all the more remarkable because of Leon Crane's lifelong reluctance to talk about his ordeal. Murphy has saved from oblivion a tale that resonates with inspiration more than seventy years later."
—David Roberts, author of Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration
"This is a great story, wonderfully told. From the moment the doomed plane takes off until the lone survivor rejoins civilization, the reader is taken on a thrilling, emotional, and hugely satisfying ride. Seamlessly interweaving the pilot's intense struggle against the elements with the broader history of the war, Alaska, and the home front, Brian Murphy has created a fascinating page-turner that you will not want to put down."
—Eric Jay Dolin, author of Leviathan and When America First Met China
"The hardships endured by Leon Crane are unimaginable, and author Brian Murphy expertly takes the reader into Crane's inspiring journey of survival. You will find yourself rooting for Crane to take the next step, make the next right decision, and fight on. 81 Days Below Zero pulls you into Crane's thought process, and you might find yourself wondering, 'What would I have done in a similar situation?' Few of us would have that combination of creativeness and mental fortitude to do what Crane did."
—Michael J. Tougias, author of Fatal Forecast, A Storm Too Soon, and Overboard
Kirkus Reviews, 4/1/15
“A gripping story”
“A solid entry in the perennially popular canon of real-life adventure stories.”
Roanoke Times review, 6/17/15
“[A] thrilling true story… Many have been the tales of man against nature, the struggle for survival among icy peaks in a howling wilderness—some fictitious (Jack London's “To Build a Fire”), others far too true (“Alive”). Few if any have chronicled such an epic battle as this, the journey of a lone airman from near death to life, in the course of which might be seen a series of miracles, fortified by his indomitable will to survive… It is a well-told tale.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6/28/15
“81 Days Below Zero by Brian Murphy, is a thrilling page-turner of true-live adventure… Murphy's instincts for pacing and re-creating emotions, dialogue and details are so finely crafted that you might find yourself shivering right along with Crane as he struggles to hang on in subzero conditions with only his Boy Scout knife, 40 matches, a parachute and the clothes on his back.”
Alaska Dispatch News, 7/12/15
“Pilot's genuine Alaska survival story puts reality TV to shame… As survival tales go, this one is epic…81 Days Below Zero is a traditionally crafted narrative that balances historical details with themes of adventure and unlikely survival. But there is more here than just an unexpected World War II story, which is compelling enough…Murphy shows how close the 21st century is to the events of the past and the quietly heroic actions a historian can take. Reality television has very nearly convinced us that it takes manufactured drama to get our attention. Kudos to Brian Murphy for reminding readers how far from the truth that assertion can be.”
Portland Review of Books
“An exciting, caring, and interesting story.”
Jacksonville Journal-Courier, 8/16/15
“Murphy relays the incredible survival story in subzero conditions with masterful suspense.”
Washington Post, 10/11/15
“This would be a great read at the beach on a hot summer day…A riveting story…An interesting saga of survival against formidable odds.”
WWII History magazine, December 2015
“Leon Crane's amazing story is recounted in great detail. The author relates the young aviator's harrowing tale in smooth prose, which beckons the reader to continue reading. There are many survival stories of airmen and sailors adrift at sea and how they beat the odds. This story reveals how one flyer endured an experience just as extreme and lived to tell about it.”
Charleston Post and Courier, 1/17/16
“[A] sharply detailed, gripping account…The reader shivers with Crane as he ponders each next step through a desolate Alaskan forest when a warm day during the winter of 1943 is zero degrees Fahrenheit…A fresh, vivid, film-worthy tale of World War II survival.”
Military Officer, February 2016
“Murphy vividly describes Crane's World War II Alaskan ordeal.”
Collected Miscellany, 1/28/16
“Gripping…Murphy perfectly captures Crane's predicament of trying to survive in some of the most brutal terrain and weather on the planet…This book is an epic story of one man's will to survive in a harsh environment.”
About the Author
Brian Murphy is a journalist at the Washington Post. He joined the paper after more than twenty years as an award-winning foreign correspondent and bureau chief for The Associated Press in Europe and the Middle East. He has two previous books and currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife Toula Vlahou.
Click to set custom HTML
Outside South Africa, the fate of the Sudur Havid was never big news. It was just another foreign fishing boat in trouble. Really, I should be calling her the Sudurhavid, or even Suðurhavið, for I have come to learn that this was her proper name. But on board I only ever saw the word split on life-rings, and I’ve known her as the Sudur Havid for far too long to change. To continue with the confessional, I have used the more familiar term ‘Antarctic Seas’ for the subtitle of the book when we were technically only 54° South – but we were south of the Antarctic convergence, so the water masses and ecology are much the same.
I waited a long time before I started writing Last Man Off. Partly this was due to a lack of self-belief, but it was also because I was trying to get on with my life and forget. I was trying to persuade myself that nothing of any significance had happened, so to write a book about the events was the last thing on my mind.
I’m glad I waited to start writing. In the immediate aftermath of the accident I was so caught up in being a participant, and there was so much emotion, that it was impossible to be objective in description. When the police in the Falkland Islands asked me what had happened, I barely paused for breath for three hours, producing sixty-five pages of descriptions, times and details. I kept the transcript of the interview and, eight years later, this and other evidence helped me relive and reconstruct the events. By that time the need to blame had mellowed, I had listened to others as they discussed what had happened, and processed the events myself. Time passed has made the story clearer, and less painful to tell.
There was coverage of the Sudur Havid in Cape Town. Some accounts were based on fact, some were more like fiction, but none were complete. I slipped quietly back into the UK, no cameras or journalists waiting for me at the airport, and I was grateful. My friends and family let me be; they didn’t want to drag up traumatic memories, and assumed that I would talk about things in my own time. But I didn’t want to tell those I cared about for fear of scaring them, and didn’t tell others for fear of upsetting myself. It took years for me to realize that there was a story that deserved to be known. How could the struggle of a crew against the toughest seas in the world have slipped by? While I have been writing, a number of my fellow survivors have died, leaving the biggest story of their lives untold.
I knew that I would need to describe events that I had not directly witnessed. After years out of touch, I managed to make contact with Phil Marshall of the Isla Camila and Magnus Johnson from the Northern Pride, and met to interview them. For Phil, in particular, the memories were upsetting. It wasn’t pleasant to ask him to recall as much detail as I needed, but he helped me to describe the search and the moment of rescue.
As the book took shape, and I became more committed, I travelled to South Africa to interview some of the crew. In a series of one-on-one interviews, I checked my recollections with Morné Van Geems, Sven Lizamore and Stephan Truter from the Sudur Havid, and they described events I couldn’t have witnessed in the other raft. There were small conflicts between their memories and mine, but I expected this. They also helped me to build up a better picture of the techniques that we used in fishing, which was something I wanted to describe as vividly as I could. We sat and chatted in the shade, outside their comfortable Cape Town homes, and their stories took me back to the Southern Ocean. Their enthusiasm and drive to fish still humble and mystify me; they are fishermen to the core. By the end of the book I had also been helped by Big Danie from the Sudur Havid, and finally Captain Ernesto Sandoval from the Isla Camila.
Writing has not been the healing process I had hoped for; I have been reduced to tears on many occasions. It has been less of a catharsis and more of a self-imposed torture as I have forced myself to picture and relive painful events, again and again. I am fearful of misportraying men who were operating under great stress, and know that for some I am describing the deaths of loved ones.
I wish I had more photos, which would make the boat and the people more vivid for you and for me. But my camera is still on the Sudur Havid. Port side, aft cabin, on the main deck, in the right-hand drawer under my bunk. If anyone wants to get it for me, it’s at 53º56´S, 041º30´W.
The surprise for me, in writing, was realizing how much I miss the sea, the boat and the adventure. For a short time in the Southern Ocean, I was at my most alive, at my best.
How to Detect Extra Terrestrial Sub-Atomic Particles: the Icecube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole
Sheldon Lee Glashow, 1979 Nobel Laureate in Physics: "A page-turning chronicle of the decades-long struggle by hundreds of physicists and engineers to create a frontier laboratory for the pursuit of the new discipline of neutrino astronomy."
The Telescope in the Ice is about the building of IceCube, which Scientific American has called the "weirdest" of the seven wonders of modern astronomy. It's the inside story of the people who built the instrument, the mistakes they made, the blind alleys they went down, the solutions they found, their conflicts, and their teamwork. It's a success story.
Located at the U. S. Amundsen-Scott Research Station at the geographic South Pole, IceCube is unlike most telescopes in that it is not designed to detect light. It employs a cubic kilometer of diamond-clear ice, more than a mile beneath the surface, to detect an elementary particle known as the neutrino. In 2010, it detected the first extraterrestrial high-energy neutrinos and thus gave birth to a new field of astronomy.
Aside from being a telescope, IceCube is the largest particle physics detector ever built. Its scientific goals span not only astrophysics and cosmology but also pure particle physics. And since the neutrino is one of the strangest and least understood of the known elementary particles, this is fertile ground. Neutrino physics is perhaps the most active field in particle physics today, and IceCube is at this forefront.
This book is mainly about people and the thrill of the chase: the struggle to understand the neutrino ever since it was "invented" by the extraordinary Wolfgang Pauli in 1930, the early researchers who helped understand it, the strange things it taught them about the nature of space and time, and the pioneers and inventors of neutrino astronomy.
The immense 18th-century scientific journey, variously known as the Second Kamchatka Expedition or the Great Northern Expedition, from St. Petersburg across Siberia to the coast of North America, involved over 3,000 people and cost Peter the Great over one-sixth of his empire's annual revenue.
Until now recorded only in academic works, this 10-year venture, led by the legendary Danish captain Vitus Bering and including scientists, artists, mariners, soldiers, and laborers, discovered Alaska, opened the Pacific fur trade, and led to fame, shipwreck, and "one of the most tragic and ghastly trials of suffering in the annals of maritime and arctic history."
“A funny, witty and highly personal account.” (Sandra Dallas - Denver Post)
“Full of insights . . . Roberts captivates the reader with the thrill of finding artifacts.” (Durango Herald)
“Engaging . . . enjoyable reading.” (Alex Heard - Pasatiempo)
“Stimulating, provoking, mournful. . . . [Roberts] has a deep and infectious passion for the landscapes, history and people of the Southwest.” (Gerard Helferich - Wall Street Journal)
“An utterly fascinating, beautifully written and elegiac exploration.” (Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times best-selling author)
“[H]as the pull and excitement of a suspense novel and appeals to a wide range of readers interested in this region’s deep past and great beauty.” (Booklist, Starred review)
“The rare sequel that stands alone yet also takes its rightful place as a classic alongside its predecessor volume.” (Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La)
“Part ethnographer, part archaeologist―with healthy doses of skeptical enquirer, curiosity seeker, and professional mountain climber mixed in―this talented writer navigates the secret canyons and hidden watercourses of the American Southwest in search of a lost civilization.” (Alex Beam, author of American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church)
About the Author: A veteran mountain climber, David Roberts is the award-winning author of Alone on the Ice, The Lost World of the Old Ones, and True Summit, and twenty-six other books about mountaineering, exploration, adventure, and Western history and anthropology. He lives in Massachusetts.
On a warm Saturday night in July 1973 in Bethesda Maryland, a gunman stepped out from behind a tree and fired five point-blank shots into Joe Alon, an unassuming Israeli Air Force pilot and family man. Alon's sixteen-year-old neighbor, Fred Burton, was deeply shocked by this crime that rocked his sleepy suburban neighborhood. As it turned out, Alon wasn't just a pilot—he was a high-ranking military official and with intelligence ties. The assassin was never found and the case was closed. In 2007, Fred Burton—who had since become a State Department counterterrorism special agent—reopened the case. Here, in Chasing Shadows, Burton spins a gripping tale of the secret agents, double dealings, terrorists and heroes he encounters he chases leads around the globe in an effort to solve this decades-old murder. From swirling dogfights over Egypt and Hanoi to gun battles on the streets of Beirut, this action-packed thriller looks in the dark heart of the Cold War to show power is uses, misused, and sold to the most convenient bidder.
Archaeologists in southern Israel say they've uncovered a young donkey that was carefully laid to rest on its side more than 3,500 years ago, complete with a copper bridle bit in its mouth and saddle bags on its back.
Its accessories — and the lack of butchery marks on its bones — lead researchers to believe the venerated pack animal was sacrificed and buried as part of a Bronze Age ritual.
Donkeys were valuable beasts of burden in the ancient Near East. Donkey caravans helped open up vast trade networks across the Levant and Anatolia in the 18th and 17th centuries B.C., according to archives from Amorite settlements like Mari in modern-day Syria. Ancient Egyptian inscriptions from around the same time show that hundreds of pack donkeys were used in large-scale expeditions to mining sites in the eastern desert and southern Sinai, researchers say.
Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of the K-129. by Norman C. Polmar and Michael White.
Despite incredible political, military, and intelligence risks, and after six years of secret preparations, the CIA attempted to salvage the sunken Soviet ballistic missile submarine K-129 from the depths of the North Pacific Ocean in early August 1974. This audacious effort was carried out under the cover of an undersea mining operation sponsored by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. “Azorian”—incorrectly identified as Project Jennifer by the press— was the most ambitious ocean engineering endeavor ever attempted and can be compared to the 1969 moon landing for its level of technological achievement.
Following the sinking of a Soviet missile submarine in March 1968, U.S. intelligence agencies were able to determine the precise location and to develop a means of raising the submarine from a depth of more than 16,000 feet. Previously, the deepest salvage attempt of a submarine had been accomplished at 245 feet. The remarkable effort to reach the K-129, which contained nuclear-armed torpedoes and missiles as well as cryptographic equipment, was conducted with Soviet naval ships a few hundred yards from the lift ship, the Hughes Glomar Explorer.
While other books have been published about this secret project, none has provided an accurate and detailed account of this remarkable undertaking. To fully document the story, the authors conducted extensive interviews with men who were on board the Glomar Explorer and the USS Halibut, the submarine that found the wreckage, as well as with U.S. naval intelligence officers and with Soviet naval officers and scientists.
The authors had access to the Glomar Explorer’s logs and to other documents from U.S. and Soviet sources. The book is based, in part, on the research for Michael White's ground-breaking documentary film, Azorian: The Raising of the K-129, released in late 2009. As a result of the research for the book and the documentary film, the CIA reluctantly issued a report on Project Azorian in early 2010, even though they tried to withhold details that were in that brief document from the public record by redacting one-third of it. In this book, the story of the CIA’s Project Azorian is finally revealed after decades of secrecy.