WB01637_.gif (294 bytes) Executive Summary WB01637_.gif (294 bytes) Policy paper WB01637_.gif (294 bytes) Research Paper

Summary of the OSI IPF Proposal










OSI IPF photos

Tomsk Laboratory of Siberian Indigenous People

Survival International

 VISAN studio


The indigenous population of Siberia can be considered as historically disadvantaged with regards to its historical role as a subject to abusive assimilative policies throughout the history of Russia: forced acquisition of territories and oppression of traditional religious practices, forced collectivization, forced migration to bigger settlements, compulsory boarding-school education with prohibition of mother tongue, general diminishing of the social and cultural status of indigenous ethnic groups as compared to that of majority nationals.

The endeavor to create a so called "new historic community - a soviet nation", i.e. efforts aimed at  ethnic fusion into a "socialist nation", have resulted in assimilative policies towards indigenous ethnic minorities which were discriminatory in their practice and outcome. Such practices towards numerically small aboriginal nations dominated both in Russia and worldwide.

The most serious ethnodemographic upheavals were provoked by wide scale exploration since 1960-ies of the Western Siberia oil- and gas-depositions, located exclusively on native territories. In few years from indigenous majority in the area this people become an insufficient ethnic minority, while their traditional habitat and culture suffered an uncompensated harm.

A repercussion of the above is the near extinction of many indigenous Siberian languages.

Of approximately 6500 languages currently spoken world-wide it can be assumed that around two-thirds of these languages will become extinct in the 21st century. All languages and cultures of their speakers are intimately inter-dependant representing specific expressions of human thought and social organization. Thus, every extinct language denotes the loss of priceless humanistic values.

More than a half of the minority languages of Russia are into the seriously endangered group.

Recent research suggests that the XVIII-XX centuries saw a steady increase in total number of Siberian natives, however, this increase does not guarantee their survival as a distinct cultural and linguistic entities.

The Indigenous cultures of the native Siberia are often and undeservedly considered primitive.

In the circumstances an action is to be undertaken to:

  • - document and research the socio-cultural and linguistic prerequisites for preserving and revitalizing the indigenous cultures and languages of Siberia
  • - provide visibility of the problem - promote the languages and cultures of Siberian Indigenous minorities via the world wide web, publications and other activities, to rise the level of awareness of the scope and urgency of the problem in academic community and general public
  • - establish information basis for researchers, policy analysts and policy makers, NGOs, grassroots and activists in the area of indigenous minorities.

At the current stage, indigenous minorities' issues can be entered in the range of concern and addressed by most of the OSI ad Soros Foundation Network programs. Equally the experience, procedures and results of some of the programs implemented within the network are often applicable or easily adjustable for indigenous programs. There is a history of partnership and consistent interest in such programs on behalf of international foundations and non-profit organizations. The OSI and Soros Foundation Network is well positioned to perform the leading, coordinating role in projects addressing such issues as:

  • Support of the research of autochthonous cultures and languages
  • Training and organizational development for activists in the area of indigenous rights.
  • Support of minority education efforts and initiatives, using international experience in the area of minority education and minority language maintenance and preservation, international and local legal acts and norms.

Filtchenko A.Y. 07.05.1999