Kamchadals – a Small Nation in Russia that is Returning from Oblivion

Kamchadals

This small nation has learned to survive in the harsh conditions of Russian Far East.

Kamchatkais a land of pristine nature and a harsh climate. The development of this territory by Russians led to the emergence of a new ethnic group of mixed origin. Mixed marriages became the beginning of a new nation called Kamchadal. The resulting families got settled in communities.

The Birth of a New Language

The indigenous people of Kamchatka converted to Christianity, new schools were opened where Russian and indigenous children studied together. A natural bilingualism of these mixed settlements became the basis for the formation of the “Kamchatka dialect” of the Russian language.

Traditions and Lifestyle of Kamchadals

Researchers of the northern territories of Russia described this nation in detail. The main economic activity of Kamchadals were fishing and hunting for forestand marine animals. Women kamchadals made clothes, gathered berries, roots and mushrooms. The most popular mushrooms were amanita. This hallucinogenic mushroom was used as a narcotic during rare holidays.

The main way to get around for Kamchadals was dog sledding.

Swarthy, with high cheekbones, slightly awkward and short, living in yurts with minimal home ware – this is how the researchers from the 19thcenturydescribed them.

Interlacing of Cultural Traditions

In Kamchadals worldview oddly interlaced pagan traditions and orthodoxy, combined with a strong influence of the harsh northern climate. Kamchadals were truly “children of nature”, deeply aware of their connection to it and wisely using natural resources.

Active development of the northern territories of Russia in the last few centuries has contributed to the loss of many indigenous traditions and transformed their culture and faith.

Today, among Kamchadals there is a growing interest in Orthodoxy and the revival of their ancient culture. Their music and singing folklore is being revived as well as traditional crafts.

Why the Population of Kamchadals is Growing So Fast

The population of Kamchadals over the past century has increased by more than 3 times. At the same time the nominal list of Kamchadal communities is much bigger than the official results of the census!

Maybe this is the explanation: many Kamchatka residents call themselves Kamchadals because the program of revival of indigenous peoples of the Russian North gives them an opportunity to fish with virtually no restrictions.

The number of Kamchadals is growing, and we hope that they will preserve both their traditional culture and the customs of Kamchadals.

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To discover Russia with Alexey Gureev

The pic from “Description ethnographique des peuples de la Russie” (1862)

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