The population of Chukchi was small, only about 8-9 thousand people at the beginning of the 18thcentury. It would seem like not a lot. Especially, considering that Chukchi in their development were still in the Stone Age, and didn’t even have iron. Iron only just began to appear in Chukchi life due to exchanging or capturing trophies from neighboring tribes. But the development of the Far East by Russia was conducted by very small forces. Moreover, in those days, government officials did not attach too much importance to the Far East.
“Chukchi are strong, tall, courageous, broad-shouldered, powerfully built, reasonable, fair, belligerent, freedom-loving people that don’t tolerate cheating and are vindictive …”
Captain D. Pavlutsky
The Arrogance of Chukchi
The very name Chukchi, “real people”, unequivocally implies that Chukchi put other peoples a step below them. At the same time you can only put other people a step lower in the North with fire and a spear.
“Twenty Chukchi will chase away fifty Koryaks.”
Objectives and Tactics of Chukchi Raids
In the North, the main thing of value is deer. Chukchi staged raids on Koryaks and Yukagirs (the latter were almost completely wiped out), and seized their deer and grazing lands.
In fact, Chukchi became in the 17-18thcenturies Russian competitors in the development of new areas in Chukotka.
Deer herders from other tribes always movedin small groups, just a few yarangas. Chukchi gathered in groups and attacked yarangas at dawn. Part of Chukchi threw arcans (rope with a noose) on top of yarangas and tried to overturn them. The second part of Chukchi using sharp spears tried to pierce the second canopy of yarangas where everyone slept and kill them all. The third part of Chukchi, without delay, drove away deer herds.
Slow Expansion by Russia
Russia was gradually moving in its territorial expansion towards America. But you cannot go to America, having in your rear half-conquered lands of Chukotka. Plus, on the Far East coast of Russia other foreign seafarers began to appear.
But the confrontation between Chukchi and Russians was only beginning.
This article contains some materials of V. Kuz’minykh
The pic from “Asian Russia”, V.1 (1914)
To discover Russia with Alexey Gureev