In Russia, the Chukchi are known as folk characters — the heroes of jokes about naive natives. In reality, this is a nation of brave hunters and reindeer herders, freedom-loving people whom the
tsarist forces have unsuccessfully tried to conquer for more than a hundred years.
Where guns were powerless, alcohol and Soviet forced education in orphanages played a fatal
role. Now the Chukchi nation is on the verge of extinction. This is not even assimilation, since
they do not become Russian. Loss of language and culture leads to alcoholism and untimely
This process is slowed down in the communities engaged in traditional activities — such as hunting
for sea animals — seals, walruses and whales. To minimize negative impact on the environment,
it is regulated by Russian norms and international agreements — for example, residents of 14
Chukchi villages are allowed to catch a total of 140 gray whales per year. Hunters use modern
boats, but the principle of the hunt and the construction of the harpoon have remained almost
unchanged for more than two thousand years. Sometimes community members fall in icy water
and die. But this hunt is the only way to supply fellow villagers with fresh meat.