Evenki Autonomous Okrug

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Evenki Autonomous Okrug


(Evenkia), part of Kras-noiarsk Krai, RSFSR. Formed Dec. 10,1930, and called Evenki National Okrug until 1977. Located in Eastern Siberia. Area, 767,000 sq km. Population, 15,000 (Jan. 1,1977). Evenki Autonomous Okrug is divided into three raions. The administrative center is the urban-type settlement of Tura.

Natural features. Evenki Autonomous Okrug occupies the central part of the Central Siberian Plateau. The most elevated area is the Putorana Plateau, which reaches a maximum elevation of 1,701 m at Mount Kamen’. The greater part of the Tunguska Coalfield lies within the okrug, and the Nizhniaia Tunguska and Podkamennaia Tunguska regions contain deposits of iron ore, nonferrous metals, graphite, Iceland spar, petroleum, and natural gas.

The okrug has a distinctly continental climate. Winters in the okrug are long and harsh. The mean January temperature is –26.9°C in Vanavara, –36.8°C in Tura, and –37.2°C in Essei. Summers are short and warm, with a mean July temperature of 13.3°C in Essei, 15.5°C in Tura, and 16.6°C in Vanavara. Precipitation, which falls chiefly in summer, ranges from 300 mm per year in Essei to 500 mm per year in Kochumdek. The frost-free period ranges from 40 days in the north to 110 days in the south. There is extensive permafrost.

The principal rivers are right tributaries of the Enisei: the Nizhniaia Tunguska and Podkamennaia Tunguska. The Nizhniaia Tunguska flows for approximately 1,300 km within the okrug. Its principal tributaries are the left tributaries Ilimpeia, Nidym, Taimura, and Uchami and the right tributaries Kochechum, Vivi, and Tutonchana. The Podkamennaia Tunguska is more than 1,500 km long. Its principal tributaries are the right tributaries Tetere and Chunia and the left tributaries Vel’mo, Oskoba, Taiga, and Kamo. The Kureika River, which flows into the Enisei, rises in the okrug, as does the Kotui River and its tributary the Moiero. The most important of the okrug’s numerous lakes are Essei, Vivi, Agata, Severnoe, and Niakshingda.

Mountain-forest podzolic soils predominate in the okrug. Mountain tundra soils are found in the northwest and sod-podzolic soils in the south. More than four-fifths (64 million hectares) of the okrug, most of which lies in the taiga subzone, is forest. Mixed dark coniferous forests of larch and spruce predominate in the south, in the Podkamennaia Tunguska region; light coniferous forests of larch, pine, and spruce grow in the interfluve of the Podkamennaia and Nizhniaia Tunguska rivers. In the Far North the taiga gives way to thin larch forests and moss-lichen tundra (one-tenth of the okrug).

Evenki Autonomous Okrug has a diverse fauna. Common fur-bearing animals include the sable, squirrel, and Siberian weasel. Other animals include the Eurasian brown bear, blue hare, wolverine, Siberian chipmunk, snow weasel, fox, wolf, reindeer, and moose; the muskrat has become acclimatized. Birds include the capercaillie, black grouse, hazel hen, and willow ptarmigan. The rivers and lakes are inhabited by such fish as sturgeon, taimen, sterlet, whitefish, broad whitefish, grayling, peled, burbot, pike, Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis), crucian carp, and cisco.

Population. According to the 1970 census, Russians make up more than 61 percent of the okrug’s population, Evenki 25.2 percent, and Yakuts 6.6 percent. The average population density is 0.02 per sq km. The urban population, which constitutes 35 percent of the total population, is concentrated in the okrug’s one urban-type settlement, Tura.

Historical survey. Early in the second millennium A.D. the Evenki settled the region they inhabit today. Their principal occupations were hunting, reindeer herding, and fishing; the most important game were such ungulates as wild deer and moose. Hunters used the bow and arrow and various homemade traps. In the first half of the 17th century the okrug was incorporated into Russia. This development was a historically progressive step: the Russians introduced the Evenki to firearms, and the indigenous population began using such foods as flour, tea, salt, and sugar. At the same time, the iasak (tribute) was imposed on the Evenki, and the people became subject to the rapacious policies of the tsarist government, which caused the death of a considerable part of the indigenous population.

The October Revolution of 1917 dramatically changed the life of the okrug’s population. Kolchak’s forces were driven out of Siberia in 1920. The Committee of the North, formed in 1924 under the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, rendered considerable assistance to the indigenous population.

In accordance with the Provisional Statute on Governing the Native Tribes and Peoples of the Northern Frontiers of the RSFSR, which was drafted by the Committee of the North, bodies of self-government were created for the peoples of the north: clan soviets, raion native councils, and raion native executive committees. Among the clan soviets formed in the okrug were the Murukta, Chirinda, Chapogir, and Pankagir clan soviets, all of which were subordinate to the Turukhansk raion executive committee.

In 1927, native raion executive committees were organized: the Ilimpeia, with headquarters at the Tura kul’tbaza (multipurpose cultural center), and the Baikit, with headquarters at the trading post of Baikit. In December 1930, Evenki National Okrug was formed, and the Evenki were granted equal political status with other peoples. In 1925 a decree of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR released the peoples of the north, including the Evenki, from national and local taxes, thereby greatly improving their economic position.

Collectivization of the Evenki’s primitive economy began in the early 1930’s: simple production associations were formed, which later were transformed into artels. Collectivization helped the indigenous population make the transition to a settled way of life. Land cultivation, animal husbandry, and fur farming, together with traditional occupations, underwent development at kolkhozes and sovkhozes.

Between 1930 and 1932, Soviet geologists discovered numerous deposits of coal, Iceland spar, building materials, and salt in the okrug, all of which provided a basis for industrial production. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 the working people of the okrug increased the reindeer herd, the fish catch, and the fur output and collected a considerable amount of money and warm clothing for use in the country’s defense. The Evenki serviceman Innokentii Petrovich Uvachan was posthumously awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.

During the postwar five-year plans, the Evenki people made important economic advances. The Evenki Autonomous Okrug was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in January 1971 and the Order of Friendship of Peoples in December 1972.


Economy. The principal branches of the economy of Evenkia are fur production and reindeer herding. The okrug, which accounts for 13 percent of the fur output of Krasnoiarsk Krai, produces sable, silver fox, ermine, squirrel, and muskrat furs. Hunting provides 55 percent, and cage fur farming 45 percent, of the furs produced. Silver foxes and blue arctic foxes are bred on fur farms.

The Evenki Autonomous Okrug has approximately one-third (45,000 as of Jan. 1, 1977) of the reindeer in Krasnoiarsk Krai and more than 1 million hectares of pastureland for the grazing of reindeer, primarily in the northern part of the okrug. In 1976 there were 11 sovkhozes, including four reindeer sovkhozes: Surinda, Tutonchany, Poligus, and Nidym. Dairy farming and the cultivation of potatoes and other vegetables are developing.

Industrial production is represented primarily by mining. Graphite is mined at the Noginskii deposit and shipped to Krasnoiarsk for processing. Iceland spar is extracted from deposits on the right bank of the Nizhniaia Tunguska and near the Nidym and Chambei rivers.

In 1975 the okrug had 2,200 km of waterways; the Nizhniaia Tunguska and Podkamennaia Tunguska rivers are navigable. The well-developed system of air transport connects the okrug with various points, including Krasnoiarsk and numerous raion administrative centers. Reindeer are an important means of transport.


Education and cultural affairs. In the (1977–78) academic year 3,600 students were enrolled in the okrug’s 31 general-education schools of all types, and 100 students attended the specialized secondary educational institution, a medical school. There are no higher educational institutions. In 1976, 1,500 children were enrolled in 27 preschool institutions, and there were 27 public libraries, with 169,000 copies of books and periodicals. An okrug museum of local lore is located in Tura, and there are three amateur theaters, in Tura, Baikit, and Vanavara. The okrug has 26 clubs, 28 motion-picture projection units, and three extracurricular institutions.

The okrug newspaper, Sovetskaia Evenkiia, has been published since 1933. Programs of All-Union Radio are transmitted, and krai and local radio programs are broadcast in Evenki and Russian for 11.5 hours daily. Programs of Central Television are relayed via the Orbita system for 12 hours daily.

Literature. Before the revolution the Evenki, then called the Tungus, had no writing system. Various genres of folklore were widespread among them. The first literary works came from Evenki writers among the students at the Leningrad Institute of the Peoples of the North in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. A. M. Salatkin (1908–43) wrote the first collection of poems in the Evenki language— The Taiga at Play (1937)—and the epic folktale Gegdalluken and Uglerikken (1935). Soon there appeared the collection of poems The Song of an Evenk (1938), by A. N. Platonov (1912–39), and two works by G. Ia. Chinkov (1915–70): the collection of poetry My Native Land (1938) and the epic folktale Garpanindia (1939). N. Sakharov (1915–15), who fought in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 and died at Berlin, wrote poems about V. I. Lenin, the novella Red Suglan (1938), and stories about the new life among the Evenki.

A. Nemtushkin (born 1938) is the author of numerous literary sketches and the poetry collections Morning on the Taiga (1960) and My Tokma (1968). The poetry of such young writers as I. M. Udygir (born 1930), V. D. Lorgaktoev (born 1934), and S. N. Pi-kunov (born 1922) has been published in the national and local press. Many works by Russian and Soviet writers have been translated into Evenki, and the works of Evenki writers have been translated into various languages of the USSR.



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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.