The Koryak People of Siberia

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ANTHROPOLOGY AND HUMANISM VOLUME 27 NUMBER 2 DECEMBER 2002 PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY FOR HUMANISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY A SECTION OF THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION 1902 • celebrating 100 years • 2002
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Transcript of The Koryak People of Siberia

ANTHROPOLOGY AND HUMANISMVOLUME 27 NUMBER 2 DECEMBER 2002

AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION 1902 celebrating 100 years 2002

PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY FOR HUMANISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY A SECTION OF THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

ANTHROPOLOGY AND HUMANISM VOLUME 27, NUMBER 2 DECEMBER 2002CONTENTSMiami Money and the Home Gal Karen E. Richman Without Deer There Is No Culture, Nothing Alexander D. King Could She Be Dying? Dis-Orders of Reality around Death in an American Hospital Helen S. Chapple 119 133

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FICTIONMaquiladora Cousins Tamar Diana Wilson 185

POEMSFive Poems in Three Languages Meditacin in and about Mbohapy ee Pax Nobiscum Muse Pride? Ignoramus Tracy K. Lewis Slugs Soft Boiled Eggs Brian Swann Imprecation against Two Cambridge Policemen for Disturbing Dave Sapirs Party Dell Hymes 192 193 194 195 197 198 199

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BOOK REVIEWSAfter Genres: A Biography That Illuminates Ethnography (In the Arms of Africa: The Life of Colin M. Turnbull, Roy Richard Grinker) Christopher Eric Garces Silicon Valley Light ([email protected] Valley, June Anne English-Lueck) Jennifer Croissant New Perspectives on Female Circumcision (The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective, Ellen Gruenbaum) Barry P. Michrina Africa Reclaiming Herself (On the Postcolony, Achille Mbembe) Donald Robotham

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A Place to Write: The Bartender as Ethnographer (A Place to Stand: Politics and Persuasion in a Working-Class Bar, Julie Lindquist) Warren Olivo

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ANNOUNCEMENTSThe Society for Humanistic Anthropology is pleased to announce that the 2002 Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing was won by Henry Stephen Sharp for his book Loon: Memory, Meaning, and Reality in a Northern Dene Community. Honorable Mention awards were won by Mary Weismantel for her book Cholas and Pishtacos: Stories of Race and Sex in the Andes, and Catherine Lutz for her book Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century. Kent Maynard won the 2001 Wick Chapbook Prize for Ohio poets. His collection, Sunk like God behind the House, was published in the fall of 2002. Several of the poems first appeared in Anthropology and Humanism.

ON THE COVERZoya Petrovna cooking for her relatives in a Koryak reindeer herders camp, Kamchatka. Zoya echoed the statement that the reindeer were the basis for the Koryaks entire culture. Photo by Alexander D. King.

Without Deer There Is No Culture, NothingALEXANDER D. KING Department of Anthropology University of Aberdeen Old Aberdeen Scotland AB243QY United Kingdom SUMMARY This article presents the pragmatics of reindeer herding by Chukchi and Koryak people in northern Kamchatka, Russia, to convey a sense of the importance of herding as a symbolic resource. A detailed description of brief visits to a reindeer herd in Kamchatka uncovers the power of reindeer as a symbol for indigenous people and indigenous culture in this area. I use a first-person, subjective ethnography and include some of the challenges I met in the field and my attempts to overcome them. The title quotes a reindeer herder impressing upon me the importance of his work for his people. Reindeer are connected to human beings in a totalizing manner. Reindeer are simultaneously index, icon, and symbol of human social organization, economic activity, spiritual practice, material culturein short, our culture, as I was told by many people in Kamchatka. The Reindeer are a dominant symbol of collective identity in northern Kamchatka, Russia. A reindeer head is featured on the official flag of the Koryak Autonomous Okrug (KAO), even though two-thirds of the population are not native and the administration is run mostly by Russians and other incomers. My first impression of this representation was that it was a romantic stereotype, similar to the generic Indian buffalo hunter used by whites in North America as school mascots or to sell Jeeps. I had little intention of studying reindeer herders directlymy focus was political discourse, and I imagined this to take place at administrative centersbut I discovered that reindeer herding was more than a romantic symbol of the primitive other. Although very few native people in Kamchatka are directly engaged in reindeer herding, they frequently refer to reindeer and to herding activities while talking about themselves and their own culture. Incomers see reindeer herding as an index of the primitiveness of native people, a problem needing a solution. Native people talk about reindeer herding in specific contexts, those of childhood experiences, the lives of relatives and friends, and religious rituals that are important to them, and as an index of traditional wealth and independence. In July 1997 my wife, Christina, and I went to the village of Srednie Pakhachi, accompanied by our friend and colleague Valentina Dedyk. Christina and I had met Valentina (Valya) and her family during our first trip to Kamchatka in 1995. She is the Koryak-language teacher at the Palana Teachers College in the administrative center (Palana) of the Koryak Autonomous Okrug. Valya had spent two months in 1996 at our home in Charlottesville, Virginia, helping me with Koryak, learning English, and conversing about ethnography. After we returned to Kamchatka in April 1997, Valya invited us to go with her family on their summer vacation to visit other members of her family and friends in her childhood home of Srednie Pakhachi. It was an opportunity to visit a village of reindeer herders where many people still spoke Koryak and where people had owned private deer through the Soviet era, even though most reindeer had been appropriated in theAnthropology and Humanism 27(2):133164. Copyright 2003, American Anthropological Association.

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1930s during collectivization. We stayed with Valyas elder sister, Tanya, and her family. The last week of my month in Srednie Pakhachi, I accepted the invitation of Tanyas husband Volodya Yatylkut to visit the herd of the villages privately owned deer. This first visit with Volodya was short, only three days in all, but it was a revelation. I discovered that the deer were a root metaphor for Koryak culture, at least in this village that was traditionally focused on reindeer herding. If I were going to have any sense of what native people were about, I had to study what I had earlier disparaged as salvage ethnography. Discourse about reindeer herding in Palana was either in the context of an economic problem in need of solving or in the context of cultural survivals of earlier, primitive lifeways (cf. Grant 1995:8, 128; Slezkine 1994:125, 260, 341). Vladimir Bogoraz (190409) and Vladimir Jochelson (1908) had done an excellent job of documenting reindeer herding among Chukchi and Koryak people. Soviet ethnographers such as Bilibin (1932, 1933), Antropova (1971), and Chesnokov (1997) had covered many of the changes in reindeer herding in the 20th century. However, the meaning of reindeer herdingthe meaning of daily pragmatics in the peoples sense of themselves, their culture, and their human dignitywas not clear from these ethnographic accounts. After my first short visit to the privately owned reindeer herd, I knew that I needed to learn the meanings of representations of reindeer herding for native people through some old-fashioned participant-observation.1 The structure of my presentation follows Abu-Lughods call for ethnographies of the particular (1991:149152). I agree that a tactical humanism, which aims for representations of other peoples everyday lives and tries to avoid exoticizing, can be used to overcome tendencies toward essentialism, false coherence, and hierarchy latent in common use of the term culture (Abu-Lughod 1991:159). My style is inspired by Edith Turners ethnography of Native Alaskan healers in The Hands Feel It, in which she concentrates on relating present-day culture in action in an Alaskan village (1996:xxvi). My article has similar goals as Petra Rethmanns ethnography of particulars in northeastern Kamchatka, which uses analytical and textual strategies that work counter to the exoticizing techniques of earlier ethnographies (2001:9). Through experience and action, not through speaking and listening, I learned the basic importance of reindeer in these peoples lives.2 Though it has become a sin for ethnographers to essentialize other people, many Koryaks and Chukchi in Kamchatka essentialize themselves by insisting on reindeer as the essential key to ethnographic understanding. A reindeer herd is not just a group of deer managed by people. It is a holographic entity providing a scale model of the social life of animate beings in the universe, or a total social phenomenon (Mauss 1990:3).3 Deer and people are connected to one another in a vital social universe. This article has three goals: to provide an ethnography of reindeer herding practices among Koryak and Chukchi of northern Kamchatka, to discuss the religion and worldview of these people in the context of reindeer herding, and to present the context of ethnographic knowledge production and problems of participant-observation. The following account of Koryak-Chukchi reindeer herding pragmatics is presented in chronological order, simulating field notes in places, to evoke a sense of experience. If the true locus of culture is in the interactions of specific individuals, as Sapir says (1949:515), then the locus of ethnography is in the interactions between ethnographer and people assisting his project (in other words, natives). I include myself as a character in the narrative to make it plain to the reader the circumstances of the invention of the culture I call Koryak/Chukchi/Srednie Pakhachi (cf. Wagner 1981:3f.).4 The

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conclusion will focus on general problems of deer, people, culture, and ethnographic understanding. July 1997 How long are we going for? I asked Volodya as I swung my pack onto my back. That depends on how long you want, he answered. When it begins to snow, you can return by sled, his son-in-law, Valeri, joked. I have a pair of really fast sled-deer at that herd. Volodyas face and arms were tanned a deep brown. Although he was only in his midforties, his hair was already graying, attributed by his wife to a close brush with a grizzly bear. He had an old army pack and wore the drab clothing of outdoorsmen common across the former Soviet Union. Sometimes I felt like a cosmonaut with my bright red Gore-Tex raincoat and fancy backpack from a mountain-climbing shop. Together with Valya and her family, my wife Christina and I had been fishing with Tanya and Volodya Yatylkut and their family for the past two weeks, and they had spent just as much time talking about deer as about fish. Volodya is a typical resident of Srednie Pakhachi in many respects. First of all, he identifies himself as Chukchi. Groups of Chukchi moved south into Koryak territory (Bogoraz 190409:15), and now there are several communities in this part of the region where locals speak a dialect of Koryak, although their primary identity may be Chukchi or Even. Their spiritual beliefs and material culture are a combination of Koryak and Chukchi cultures, as described by Jochelson (1908) and Bogoraz (190409), but when compared to real Chukchi living on the Chukotka peninsula, they walk and talk more like Koryaks by their own account.5 Volodya was born and raised a reindeer herder. He had worked all of his adult life in the local sovkhoz (government collective farm) until three years ago: They dont pay you, and when you come to town for a rest, they tell you that you owe them. A months pay doesnt buy groceries [since the 1990s]. At that time I was making 2000 [rubles] a month [about US$20], and that bought sugar and thats all. The bookkeeper keeps track of pay owed and how many groceries you take, and you end up owing them. This is a pattern being repeated all over the North, where the sovkhoz runs a company store operation, enriching the immigrant sovkhoz directors at the expense of the native population. That is why Volodya left the sovkhoz.6 They stopped paying herders with money, and he had to learn to fish for salmon to feed his family and earn cash through caviar production. This is not a new pattern. People herding deer in Kamchatka and Chukotka have traditionally fallen back on salmon fishing during hard times when deer herd populations fall or disappear altogether. It is not easy, however, for a rich reindeer herder, a chawchu, to take up the lifestyle of a Nymylan, a town-dweller. Resorting to salmon fishing when reindeer herds decline through disease or war with neighbors is a pattern that has been documented for centuries (Jochelson 1908:472474; Krupnik 2000). Subsequent shifts in deer populations also provided opportunities for settled people to take up herding (Vdovin 1973:217232), and a large reindeer herd is the traditional mark of wealth in the area of the Pakhachi, Achavayam, and Apuka rivers.7 Volodya was eager to take me out to spend time at the herd. He missed his deer and wanted to check up on them. They could not be far; any day now they would be crossing the river, and there would be a slaughter. Everyone in town was pining for meat, tired of fish every day. We set off by river, motoring

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downstream in a small aluminum outboard motorboat for about half an hour and then turning up a tributary. The main river is large and swift, navigable for even large barges carrying tons of coal or other cargo. Volodya deftly navigated the shallow tributary until the motor began scraping the bottom. He got out in his hip waders and towed on foot as I poled from the boat. The water became deeper and we set about starting the motor, not a simple task with the old, Soviet-built 25-horse. After a few pulls it was clear the sparkplugs needed one of their twice-daily cleanings. I would have thrown them away and bought new ones a long time ago, but here, even if they did have the money for new sparkplugs, there were not any to be found. They make do. As Volodya was cleaning off the sparkplugs and adjusting the ignition, we heard a rifle shot from upstream through the woods. Hunters? I asked, mildly concerned about stray bullets flying through the trees along the stream of this mixed forest-tundra area. Probably poachers, Volodya affirmed. Five minutes later a man with a rifle over one shoulder and a lasso coiled over the other appeared on the bank. Hello. Where are you going? he asked. To you! we exclaimed in unison. He was not a poacher but one of the reindeer herders with the private herd. We had expected to hike for a day and a half, lugging a tent across the swampy tundra and spending the night alone, without a rifle, in bear country (all of Kamchatka is bear country). Volodya introduced me to the young man named Slava, who was in his twenties (see Figure 1). He led us to the nearby campsite he and another herder, Viktor, were setting up in advance of the herd. As we drank tea, Volodya asked about the news of the herd. They were planning to cross the river the next day, and they had already sent a man into the village to announce the slaughter. Volodya and I went to go find the herd, farther up the valley. I had to work hard to keep up with Volodya over the rough terrain. Kamchatka tundra is bog in summer, punctuated with rugged pine bush-covered hills. Volodya walked with an unhurried, steady pace that covered ground quickly. As soon as we left the herders camp, I heard him making noises I had never heard before, a breathy song of whistles and heavy breathing. I was puzzled, and I thought that maybe breathing like that helped his measured walk, so I tried to imitate his rhythm. We stopped every five minutes to scan the landscape with binoculars, looking for the herd. After half an hour, Volodya spied deer on the ridge to our left, making their way along higher ground. As we got closer I heard a cacophony of grunts, snorts, and snapping tendons. Although it was a small herd, less than 1,500 head, it was never quiet. Even while resting, the deer seemed to be talking to each other and rustling about. It was a calm, unhurried kind of rustling, however. The men constantly whistle as they walk, loud and soft, as a sort of conversation with the deer, who as a herd are also constantly making noises, talking among themselves and maybe answering the mens sounds. While Kamchatkan domestic deer are too wild to approach closely and touch (unlike Evenki deer, for example), they are not so wild that they abhor human company. Volodya is a field consultant after an anthropologists dream. From the first hour we met, he began explaining things to me in great detail with clear language and answering all of my questions. When we got to the reindeer herd, however, he did something he had never done before. He began giving me Koryak vocabulary. In talking about fishing, Volodyas explanations were always straightforward, technical descriptions of how things were made and done, material culture with little symbolic elaboration. This is how we weight nets. We set them this way because of the following reasons, and so forth. What mattered were fillets on the drying rack for food and caviar in the bucket for cash.

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Figure 1 Slava with the rifle he carved and assembled on the tundra. Photo by Alexander King. I am learning, too, Volodya explained to me, as he had left the Soviet sovkhoz only two years before. Fishing is loaded with spiritual significance for native people in Kamchatka. Other people in Srednie Pakhachi could go on all afternoon about the significance of fish and proper ritual form for cleaning fish so as not to offend the spirits. Volodyas spiritual life was not on the river, was not with fish. It was on the tundra, with the deer. In Chukchi, in our own language, he explained, we call the deer in front yanothoy. 8 We walked across the front of the herd and up the hill. Volodyas whistles were now intermixed with calls and other kinds of grunts. He was talking to the deer, reassuring them, telling them where he was and where they should be going. As we went toward the back of the herd, Volodya continued

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his vocabulary lesson: The deer that are always in the back, coming up last, are called yavalahoy. Behind these deer we saw the herder, Volokha. Tall and confident, he was about ten years Volodyas junior, the younger brother of Valentina and her sister, Tanya. He was making noises similar to Volodyas, also talking to the deer. I asked, Who owns the deer? The whole village; each person may have ten to 70 deer. Individuals own deer, and Volokha was pointing out yearlings that belonged to Volodyas daughter, his wife, and other household members. The herd moves and eats for two hours, then rests for an hour, and thus it goes around the clock. After half an hour or so, they were ready for a rest and settled down at the foot of a ridge. We made tea up on the hill overlooking the deer. Volodya and I got wood as Volokha collected some final stragglers together with the herd and got water. I started breaking twigs near a previous campfire, and Volodya told me we had to move to where we could see the whole herd and the herd could see us. The deer stay grouped better and are calmer when men are constantly present. Volodya also pointed out that the smoke from our fire helped ward off flies and mosquitoes, although it seemed as if this particular campfire was too high up the ridge for that. Volokha asked me, Would you like some Korean noodles? It says on the packet, Ready in three minutes. Packages of instant ramen noodles in Styrofoam bowls from South Korea had become ubiquitous since the mid-1990s. He broke up the noodles into small pieces, adding only enough water to the Styrofoam bowl to soften them up without broth, so we could eat them on bread. After we were again on the move, Viktor came to relieve Volokha, and we headed back to the tent. On the way, Volodya pointed to a pretty area near the stream and said, Tanya and I had tea here two years ago when we were collecting cloud berries. I was amazed at how he could identify and remember every bend in every little stream. To me it was wilderness. To him it was where he lived.9 We had cold fish soup for dinner. I asked Slava, Who pays you? We work without pay, he answered. I asked him if it was fun work. Yeah, its fun work, he answered sarcastically. Then he continued seriously, These last deer are everything. Without deer we are not people.10 Without deer there is no culture, nothing. Herding deer is not only a way of life, it provides the core meaning for Chawchu existence. I had noticed that many native people living in the regional capital, Palana, often talked about reindeer and the problems confronting herders. It seemed to be a much bigger issue than demography or economics would warrant; these people also derive much meaning for their lives from their reindeer-herding relatives, even if vicariously. Slavas remark summed up the Chukchi and Koryak understanding of reindeer herding as holographic; herding is a trope not only of identity but of native conceptions of self-respect, their own humanity. The next day had been the day of the river crossing and slaughter at the private herd. I got up just after the others at 6:30. I had my usual cup of instant coffee and piece of bread for breakfast before going off with Volokha to watch the herd. We walked along the ridge and found the herd down below, resting. Viktor told us the night was uneventful. A strong wind came up with rain varying between drizzle. I went back to camp and fetched raincoats for myself and Volokha. As the herd began to move, we went along the ridge and then down the bank. The deer wanted to go around the ridge and back toward the west, but Volokha kept them going east. He pointed out different deer and explained the color terms and antler shapes in Koryak, as

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Volodya had done the day before. Unfortunately, I could not write anything down in that wind and rain. After Volokha and I had finished our midmorning tea break, men from town began showing up. Volokha slowly moved the herd toward the river. Herding deer is a subtle business, with more whistling and walking than shouting and running.11 By the time the herd was in the woods and near the beach, some young friends of Volokhas arrived with some spirits, American Spirit (the label read Made in Tennessee: For human consumption and Export Only). We had three cups between us, drinking in turns. My black plastic camping mug drew comments. I ended up leaving it in Volokhas pack that day, and it became part of the herders dishes. The alcohol was nasty stuff, but I choked down a small shot to be polite. We followed the deer through the trees. Several dozen men and families had shown up and were helping to gather the deer on the shore. They were all experienced herders and owners, so it was calm and matter-of-fact. The herd ran back and forth on the beach several times. People had cleaned the driftwood off a section of the river bank so no one would trip and fall, and the space was confined so the herd never went far in any one direction. Finally, one man got the deer he wanted to slaughter, and they hauled it off. They slaughtered the deer as an offering before the crossing so that everything would be fine. Volodya told me later that afternoon, It is important to slaughter a deer before the crossing. Once a sovkhoz herd leaped right into the water and swam across before they had a chance to slaughter a deer, and a man drowned that day. I crossed the river with Volokha and his friends in a rowboat. We had more shots of spirits in the woods near where the deer swam ashore. After judging the speed of the current and the width of the river, Volokha could tell exactly where they would land and was ready for them to arrive. That side of the river was where Lower Old Pakhachi had been, and there are still some ring mounds marking the location of long-abandoned, semi-underground houses, and the treeless track of a former road through the woods. Volokha told me that shore Koryaks (Nymylani) used to live there. I asked what happened to them. They mixed with the others. Everyone is all mixed up. Indigenous northeast Asians have been highly mobile for a long time. People move from one place and marry those from another; they have kin and friends in many villages over a wide area. It is impossible to provide a set of consistent and rigorous distinctions between Chukchi and Koryaks, as Bogoraz (190409) and Jochelson (1908) point out throughout their work. These ethnic terms refer to names or identities and not groups. I find the terms problematic for generalizing about cultural or even linguistic differences between communities. Every area, village, or even family may have its particular customs or cultural traditions. While one may want to label particular customs as Chukchi, Koryak, or Even, one cannot identify bounded groups such as the Koryak or the Chukchi persisting unchanged in culture or language through time. People like Volokha and his sister Tanya were aware of this in their comments on their own and others ethnic identity, describing ethnicity in a situational and flexible manner. The deer ran toward the old town site, and a few were running around and over the mounds and afterward turned away from the river. Then my wife, Christina, arrived from town with Volodya, who had gone back to town to fetch her and his family. We went off with Volodya and Volokha toward the herd. They had to bring the deer back toward a large flat area where the slaughter would take place. I thought they would turn them around and send them right back, but one cannot turn a reindeer herd on a dime. We slowly herded them in a large circle, over a hill, and then back down to a large meadow just above Old Srednie Pakhachi, as the cold, Kamchatkan drizzle soaked everyone.

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Slaughtering a private reindeer was a process I witnessed many times and videotaped (at the behest of my hosts).12 Two or three men lasso the deer and bring it over. People associated with the deerits owners and others who will eat itwalk clockwise around the animal and then stand facing east for a moment. Then a man stabs the deer in the heart with a spear or large homemade knife. After the deer is dead, the woman in charge of butchering the animal takes a little blood out of the wound and scatters it in all directions as an offering to the spirits. She then takes fresh water and ritually washes the wound and the head of the animal, speaking soothing words to its soul, asking forgiveness and explaining their need for food. A pillow of freshly cut branches is placed under the head to show respect to the deer, and then several women start skinning at each leg and under the chin. Tanya cut off the antlers with a hatchet, and set the skull aside. Later we ate the brains raw (along with liver and other choice pieces), and I was surprised at the nice flavor and pleasant texture. They removed the stomach and emptied the contents about two meters from the head of the deer. When the deer was completely skinned, they set the carcass on freshly cut branches. Organs were removed, innards cleaned, and so on. Two legs and some organs were given away to the women who helped. I was told that they may take what they want. The legs were separated at the knee, leaving the meaty thigh on the carcass. Tanya added the gallbladder, the antler skin (too old and dry to eat in July), and other inedible bits to the pile of stomach contents. The antlers, connected by a small piece of skull, were carefully set up over this pile. These actions demonstrate respect for the deer and its spirit, so that it will go to the land of the dead in a proper manner. In the next world it will be born, live with the herd of deceased ancestors, die, and be sent back to this world, returning to the herd and increasing the family holdings of deer in this world. I went to the campfire to warm up and attempt to dry my socks in the rain. I thought about the scene I had just witnessed in contrast to the slaughtering of cows at my parents small farm. It was not less gory, but it seemed less gruesome. Instead of being a cold, mechanical routine, I saw the deer slaughtered with love and respect. Every deer is connected to an individual owner, and the physical consumption of reindeer flesh by humans is organized by the spiritual connections between deer and humans. The relationship is unequalhumans are superiorbut it is symbiotic. Deer rely on people to take care of them, lead them to good pastures, protect them from predators, and pay proper respect to their spirits. People rely on the deer for food, for protection from the winter cold, and to provide meaning in their universeto be their cultural foundation. In an hour or less, Tanya came with some meat and put it on the fire to cook. She mentioned that all the others just put their meat away and took off. People are no good anymore, she commented. There was plenty for all who were standing in the vicinity. I got a big piece, as did everyone else. They do not boil it for long, so the meat was tough, but very tasty, not at all like wild game. It was the freshest meat I have ever had, cooked within a couple of hours after butchering. Without Deer We Are Not People When Slava told me, Without deer we are not people. Without deer there is no culture, nothing, I wrote it down right away. People in Kamchatka expect ethnographers to take notes and make recordings. His choice of words, liudi (people), not narod (a people, folk), is interesting. Later I heard this statement echoed by an elder in the village (pictured on the cover of this journal), who also used the word liudi. Without the reindeer, these Chukchi think of themselves as something less than people. The deer provide an index of traditional culture, a

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direct, physical connection between practices and the meanings of those practices. Of course, much of the way deer are herded has changed during the 20th century, and thus the traditions change, associated with elders knowledge and habits. Elders here are an age-grade and not a generation. Undomesticated animals live in their own societies, separated from humans. Deer are socialized into the human world like no other nonhuman entity. Every individual deer has an individual owner, and deer are gathered into herds in a manner parallel to human social organization in its networks of extended families and other coresidents. Traditionally, when a person or family changed residence, they took their deer with them to join another herd. With Soviet collectivization, people were forced to give up most of their deer (if they did not slaughter them in spite) (Forsyth 1992:297, 337). I had difficulty learning the history of the private herd from people in Pakhachi: Some people just took their deer deeper into the tundra, I was told (cf. Anderson 2000:47). Eventually, I learned that most collective farms in Kamchatka allowed each herder to own a few deer, which ran together with a sovkhoz herd (cf. Klokov 2000; Konstantinov and Vladimirova 2002), except in Srednie Pakhachi and Achavayam. These two villages organized a separate herd of private deer, which was limited by sovkhoz administrators but managed by the owners among themselves. The herd had been very large in the late 1980s, more than 5,000 head of deer. The sovkhoz director forced them to slaughter more than 2,000 head in one year, claiming that the private owners were too rich and degrading pastures. The 1990s has seen the elimination of all subsidies for reindeer herding (especially well-paying jobs that allowed families to pool cash to provision the people herding the private herd), a rise in predation, and an increase in poaching. By the time I arrived for my second stay in Srednie Pakhachi the following spring, the private herd had declined to fewer than 1,000 head of deer. April 1998Spring Corral I traveled to Koryak villages on the coast that fall and winter. In the early spring I worked with native intelligentsia in the regional capital, Palana. As April approached, I made arrangements to return to Srednie Pakhachi. The annual corrals were starting, and I wanted to see the one for the private herd. Right after arriving by the weekly helicopter flight, I got out the pictures and the video from the previous summer and watched with my hosts the videotapes of fishing on the river and the summers slaughter. Volodyas friend Dima commented, When a deer falls on its rear after being stabbed, that means that someone will die. If it falls on its left side [wound side], that is not a problem, as long as it is not butt-first. Volodya laughed and said, We try to get them to fall right, but they fall as they will. Tanya elaborated, When children come home from school or someone comes from far away, it is proper to slaughter a deer in their honor, so that everything will be good, but now we have so few deer, it is hard. Also the herd is usually a long way from town, where most of the people are. Why do you look to the east during the ritual before slaughtering? I asked. To pray, they answered. To whom? They were not sure. The sun? one person ventured. We dont know, was the definitive answer with laughter. While watching my video of people dressing a deer, I asked, To whom exactly did that deer you slaughtered first belong?

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Us, Dima informed me. I understand. Was it a family deer, or was it connected to a person? Our second daughter Natasha is the owner. When the father of Anna [Dimas wife] died, his deer were divided among the grandkids, and our second daughter got most of the deer. Dima added, It used to be connected to marriage prospects. A girl with many deer had an easier time finding a husband. Later that evening, Volodya came into my room to look at the computer and see my work. I explained how I use the notebooks to make notes while people are talking, like during the video watching, and then type it up later. He mentioned the praying, saying it was not really praying. We try to do things like our ancestors did. Of course, it is nothing like the same, but what we do is not bad. Wagner (2001:22) found that the Daribi in New Guinea also could not explain the meaning of ritual performances when he inquired. The maintaining of traditional rituals is not remembering their meanings but continuing the practices. When the ethnographer demands the meaning of such actions, ordinary people feel inadequate, put on the spot. Elders knowledgeable in such religious esoterica explained to me that the tundra includes a plethora of spirits and that one needs to be respectful to all of them, including to spirits unknown or forgotten. The east is connected with the rising sun so sun was a logical guess, but Volodya, Tanya, Dima, and Anna knew that Chukchi and Koryaks are not sun worshippers. The easts connection to the rising sun is with birth, life, and hope for a good future. Addressing the west is connected to death and misfortune and is done only to converse with the recently deceased and avert a specific misfortune or with evil intentions, that is, doing someone else harm. After breakfast the next day Tanya put a double reindeer skin parka over me for the ride from the village to the corral for the private herd. I was warm on the sled behind the Soviet-made Buran snowmobile as we traveled on the now frozen river in 30 degrees Celsius. We turned off the river and found a couple of tents. Farther up the valley, we found a group of six tents: five in a line and one the herders had set up out in front. The tent had a square European design with a peaked roof, making it easier to transport and set up than the traditional round yayanaga.13 The floor was covered with birch branches. The door was to the south, a wood stove to the west of the door, a window opposite the stove to the east. The sleeping area was in back, but people also spread skins out along the sides. Branches went up vertically to support the roof between the side beam and the peak beam. The walls were sewn reindeer skin. I visited a couple of tents, talking more about Alaska and Indians than about Koryaks and Chukchi. People often asked me if there are Chukchi in Alaska, because they know that the two areas used to be one. A tractor arrived soon after we did, pulling a ten-meter-long steel sledge with two heavy fur tents and about twenty people. In nine tents there were almost one hundred people, some visiting from other villages. I went to the herders tent and Volokha was sleeping. When I had seen him earlier that day, he was drunk. He seemed happy to see me, but he also wanted to continue drinking. He woke up and introduced me to his new wife, Rita, also drunk. She was his second wife and worked at the private herd, too. He wanted to go to town with me to get more vodka, but I insisted that I did not want to kvasat (get pickled). Valeri (Tanya and Volodyas son-in-law) laughed, Correctly said. On the first day of the corral activities, we got up at first light, before the sun was over the hill. People sleep fully clothed. They have a change of clothing, and they put on warm fur socks, boots, parka, a whole reindeer-fur suit. They sleep on winter deer skins. Some also cover themselves with blankets. In the morning

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they change into the second set of fur clothes and let the others dry out during the day. That day they brought the castrated bucks and sled deer near the camp. A few castrates were lassoed for slaughter, and about a dozen women began dressing the deer. Volokha pointed at the tethered sled deer and said to me, We are nothing. It is for them, for the children. I work so that there will be at least a few left for the children. Do you want a slug? he asked, proffering his bottle. No. He got up and walked off. Heavy drinking is common across the north. Especially at festive occasions, people shared a few bottles of vodka and I usually joined in, even if I knew I would suffer the next day. Volokha was a typical reindeer herder in this respect. After months in the tundra with the herd, he was notorious for carousing in the village for several days or weeks, then heading back to the herd for several more months of hard work.14 The second day of the corral saw the first of three deer-sled races. This one was sponsored by Sergei Kerguvye in honor of his daughter Yulias first birthday. Before the race, his household conducted a ritual offering (enelwit) to the fire and other spirits, so that everything will be fine. A fire was set up on the level above the tents where the corral area was. Blood soup was scattered in all directions by several women and racers. Then a knot of dried intestine was speared and cut up and distributed to be eaten, as a substitute for a live deer. People ate the rest of the soup, and enelwit was fed to the fire. One grandmother said some words quietly in Koryak while others looked on. Later, one of the grandmothers explained, All of our life comes from the fire. Enelwit is food for the spirits, a mixture of rabbit fur and reindeer fat. Koryak and Chukchi cosmology is similar to other Siberian peoples cosmologies: the fire is a doorway to worlds above and below the middle plane that we live on. It is used to send offerings to spirits and send the deceased into the next world, and shamans and other powerful nonhuman persons can use the fire as a gateway to the other worlds.15 First prize in the races was an otter skin; second, a seal skin plus fishing gear; and third place won a collection of store items (gloves, earrings, etc.). Elders participated (see Figure 2), but younger men were the ones who placed. Later I learned that the winner did not keep his prize but was obligated to give it to someone who asked for it based on kinship claims. A man visiting from Khailino village to the north won, and Volokha came in second. After lunch they moved the herd back to where the corral was set up, and Tanya and the other women of our tent took a shovel-full of fire over to the area for the enelwit. It was the same enelwit as the race offering. I ate the bit of intestine offered me. There was more soup to eat, but I did not ask for any, and none was offered.16 Immediately after that, when they were ready to move the herd into the corral, a big wind started up and blew the cloth fence around. It was useless. The wind was going to knock it down, so they took it down and postponed the corral till the next day. Everyone was very disappointed. I sat in our tent listening to several women talk. Like everyone else here, they wondered if there were Chukchi left in Alaska. I was surprised at this recurrent theme and said no, just Eskimos and Indians, as Kolya Evnito came in and sat down. He was surprised, At one time Alaska and Chukotka were together and our ancestors lived together. I answered that that time was about 12,000 years ago. This did not seem to be relevant information. They joked again about relatives in Alaska. Kolya said, My daughter is metis. How is that? I asked.

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Figure 2 Srednie Pakhachi elders prepare for the first race of the spring corral. Photo by Alexander King. My wife is Eskimo and I am Chukchi. She probably has relatives in Alaska. We should take our daughter to Alaska to marry an Eskimo there, so we would have Alaskan relatives to visit. Laughter all around. The Russian word metis in Kamchatka can refer to anyone of mixed parentage, and it echoes Volokhas comments the summer before about everyone being all mixed up. People are familiar with the academic ethnographic labels for people and ethnic groups, but they see that these categories are rarely actualized in peoples lives as simplistically as they are described in ethnographic writings. As another woman came in and sat down, Kolya said, She is my fathers sister. The last of our kulako, using the Koryak plural on the Russian word kulak. A kulak (literally fist) designated a rich peasant and member of the exploiting class under the Soviets, who applied the category to wealthy reindeer herders, shamans, and even heads of households. Anna commented that only now are they finding out about what the Soviets really did: They took everyones things, burned yarango [large round skin tents], killed people. Those people werent kulaks. It is from their own hard work that they were rich. The topic of Americans came up. A woman remembered her father talking about fairs. The Americans would come with all this great stuff: teapots, beads, cooking pots, rifles. Everyone would get ready for the fair, preparing skins and other things to trade. We even have a flour sack from America. Of course, it is empty now [laughter]. The old people always had good words for Americans. Anna said, One day when I was a girl in school, the teacher was going on about evil Americans, imperialists, capitalists, and so on. I said that on the contrary the old people have only good words for Americans. She put me in the corner [facing the wall]. She laughed. I asked about the term Chavchuven, What people [narod] is it? It is not a people at all. It is what Koryaks call Chukchi, rich, rich in reindeer. All present agreed on this, but others elaborated that it could refer to any kind

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of wealthy person: They could be rich in cars. It just happens that deer are our wealth. This throw-away statement may contradict Slavas assertion (and my argument) about the importance of reindeer. This contradiction, however, is situated in a different context: the classification of indigenous people into ethnic groups by Russian ethnographers, and the consequent valuations of communities and individuals as falling short of being real Chukchi or real Koryaks, based on the disjuncture between peoples lives and the dictates of the classification system.17 As I wrote notes, Volodyas brother repaired a broken riding switch. He held a small stick next to his knife blade to form a plane and shaved long strips off the long branch to make a five-foot, flexible switch, on the end of which he tied a carved walrus tooth, an effective goad when driving a sledge. Chukchi and Koryaks never ride on a deer or burden it with a pack. That is a sin, they say, because it is both physically grueling and morally offensive to the deer.18 Most of the third day was spent in the corral. Inside it consisted of a small oval space, about twenty feet long, defined by several panels of board lashed together. A narrow opening at one end led to a larger oval space about one hundred yards long defined by a fence of burlap suspended from poles. As long as the deer could not see the open space behind the fence, they thought it was impermeable and did not challenge its physical integrity. The back of the burlap fence was open, and several men quietly herded the deer toward us. I was sitting with several men in a line along one side of the lowered burlap fence. There were many herders along the back of the herd to keep the deer from breaking formation and running off in the wrong direction. An elder told me, Sometimes its quick. Other times it takes a long time; the herd runs away. The men in the rear slowly advanced and the herd moved into the corral, albeit anxiously. I noticed that the rear part of the herd started churning counterclockwise. When the herd was inside, we jumped up with the cloth wall and closed off the opening. Men set up poles and anchored lines. The herd panicked. With huge eyes, the whole mass started to turn counterclockwise as the deer ran in a circle. A herder told me, They always go that way. Another said, Once a month [i.e., rarely] they turn clockwise. They are closing off the heart side. We stood and watched for fifteen minutes or so, letting them calm down. About four hundred deer were churning like a typhoon around Volokha who stood in the center of this storm, looking for the deer his sister Tanya wanted to slaughter (see Figure 3). Most of the meat is eaten or shared by the household that owns the deer, although some portions of meat are sold or traded for goods. Then, groups of eight to 15 deer were herded into the small pen of board fencing for counting. Inside, ear tags were placed or replaced. Deer have ear notches and tags, but the tags fall out. There were three or four occasions when the ownership of a deer was in question. Ears were closely examined for markings, and the coloration was also discussed. Each family notches the ears in a particular manner (analogous to a cattle brand), but sometimes careful inspection is required to be sure of the form (cf. Jochelson 1908:492). At this time young bucks were castrated using a small knife. When done properly there is no bleeding, but it is difficult, and few people can master it.19 All deer were tallied on a master sheet and on owners sticks. A man carves a square peg with a round head on one end, thus resembling the anthropomorphic sacred fireboards used to start a fire with a fire drill. Notches are made along each corner for the different classes of deer: bucks/sled-deer, does, fawns, steers. There were kids and grandmas inside the corral, sitting and standing inside the fence. With a dozen reindeer with antlers moving in the tight space, it got chaotic

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Figure 3 Volokha looking for his sisters deer. Photo by Alexander King. at times, especially with several deer on the ground being tagged or castrated. Men would form a line and close in, and then the deer would run in front of them in a panic. It seemed hazardous to me, but no one got hurt, and people rarely do. At the end of the day there were about twenty deer left, and they decided it would be faster to lasso deer individually in the large area. At first they tried one or two at a time, then lassos were flying everywhere in all directions. Elders were swearing at younger men casting long shots. Ropes got tangled. Deer scampered as lassos sailed across one another. A deer running toward me was lassoed and stopped just four feet away. A grandmother was working on a deer with her son, tagging an ear. Just as they were about to release him, a lasso came flying out and hit her, cinching around the end of her scarf. She was there sitting on the ground in the middle, scolding the careless young man as deer were running panicked all around her. The second race was sponsored by Georgi Panteleievich on the third day. It was a race for young deer, two year olds. This made it exciting because they are not fully trained. At the last stretch, which went across the front of the encampment, two sleds veered off into wild directions at the last minute, as the deer decided on their own to go a different way. Volokha came in first, and the prize was a fishing net and skin. The other prizes included a small seal skin, storebought work gloves, fishhooks, and fishing line. When I asked Georgi why he sponsored the race, he said, Just because, adding that there must be races every year at the corral. Jochelson (1908:87) compares reindeer races among Koryaks to ancient Greek games, with all of the religious and political implications. I asked Volodyas friend Dima about motives for sponsoring a race. He explained, People have many different motives for setting up a race. The first otter I caught, I announced that I would put it up as a prize for a race. The same thing with the first wolverine I caught, so that I would have success in the future. People sponsor a race so that they will have good fortune, he concluded. People in Kamchatka use the Russian word udacha, usually translated as luck, to express a concept that has little to do with chance. One has good fortune in the future because of proper actions in the past; first hunts are significant and require special recognition. Hunts succeed, the herd and people prosper because the spiritual world is in order. This order rests on humans paying the proper respect to different spiritual powers and personae.

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Native peoples concern about reindeer made a lot more sense after four days at the corral. In Palana many people bring up the problem of the shrinking herds in conversation, in public meetings, and in the press. Now I understood that the peoples concern was not about the cash value of reindeer meat in stores, nor even subsistence. It was about the spiritual relationships that organized their universe and their personal and cultural identities, their sense of value as human beings. Koryaks who work in the Russian bureaucracy know that they are still Koryak because there are deer at the herd that belong to them. They may see the herd less than once a year, but they are secure in the knowledge that they participate in the traditional relationship of deer and owner, if only vicariously. When native culture is the topic of conversation, they use personal pronouns and make specific references to their childhood. Natives who do not have these deer in the bank, so to speak, talk about native culture more abstractly, even quoting Bogoraz or Soviet ethnographers. Still, they often invoke elders or herders out in the tundra or in the north (north of Palana) as loci of their traditional culture, which is their spiritual home, if not always physical. I still had many questions about the details of the relationship between people, deer, and spirits. After five days of working and writing in town, I went back to the private herd for a couple of weeks to observe and participate in the herders life and work in the tundra. Spring Work at the Private Herd To reach the private herd we traveled by reindeer sled. I rode on Ritas sled (see Figure 4), and it was exhilarating, with the soft sounds of hooves and runners over snowsuch a contrast to the loud, smelly snowmobile ride to the corral a week before. We stopped for a break at a sacred rock on the river. My companions laid several broken cigarettes on the ice, and I laid down some gum as an offering. They actually suggested this as I was pulling it out, and did not seem to think it

Figure 4 Traveling to the private herd on the back of Ritas sled. Photo by Alexander King.

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was funny as Valeri did the previous summer when I threw a couple of pieces into the river as we motored by in the boat. We stopped for supper about two hours later. Volokha asked if Slava had any offering, and he gave him a little plastic bag. I asked what it was, and Volokha told me it was enelwit as he handed it to me. I opened the bag and fed the fire with the mixture of rabbit fur and deer fat. Slava said, Whoa, thats a lot. Volokha answered, Its fine. Now give some to the earth. I tossed a little bit onto the snow nearby. He scolded, You shouldnt throw it, but scrape the snow away and lay it on the earth. I did that, and he explained, We throw only to dogs. You dont want the spirits to take offense. I had brought four packets of Korean instant noodles. We read the ingredients as we waited for the water to boil. The last one said, Artificial meat from its own protein. Volokha pointed this out. I said, So here we are in the tundra, reindeer herders eating artificial meat. Slava laughed and said, You can write that in National Geographic when you get home. We continued traveling after dinner, but the left deer of our sled eventually stopped pulling. He ignored the switch, and we lagged behind. The others waited for us, and Slava traded places with Rita. He said, The deer is not tired, he is just quitting on us. They do that, the bad ones do. Just wait till he lies down, then well really be fucked (Russian poebalis).20 Around 9:00 p.m. he sat down in the twilight. Slava got ready to tie him to one of the lumps that form in the tundra and leave him behind, but the deer stood up at the last minute. Slava put on my snowshoes, which I had ordered out of the Cabelas catalog. The aluminum tubing, plastic tops, and ice-gripping spikes had engendered debate about manufactured Canadian snowshoes versus Koryak wood and sealskin ones, and Slava was eager to test out the Canadian ones. He walked and I rode with the rifle that he had been carrying over his shoulder. The deer sat periodically, eventually every ten meters. A couple of times Slava was ready to tie the deer up for the night. It was really dark and snowingwhite with black shadows here and there. Once he stopped to examine a tall, dark shape on the ridge with his binoculars. Goddammit! In a month well have to worry about fucking bears, he muttered as he replaced the binoculars. After an hour or so, Slava took the switch, and every time the deer sat, he whipped him until he stood back up. You have to be careful not to hit the kidneys.21 This scene was often repeated. Sometimes a prod from the snowshoes spikes got him up, or a couple of times the first taps from the switch. Although it was totally dark, Slava knew exactly where we were. We reached the tent about 2:00 a.m. When Valeri came in the next afternoon, he asked about my trip. I answered, We arrived at 2:00 a.m. I never knew that deer can break down, using the Russian verb usually reserved for machine breakdowns. He chuckled as he nodded in agreement. As I wrote notes in the afternoon of April 21, Slava was using an axe to rough out a birch log into a rifle stock. He had carved one last fall but broke it just behind the trigger when he smacked a dog attacking a deer during the corral. The dog is still whole, but the rifle broke, he said. He cut a four-foot log about six inches in diameter with a saw, and all the other work was with an axe and knife, finished with a rounded chisel. He had it done in about a week, working on it during free time in camp (see Figure 1). During lunch I asked Slava about moving camp: We do it less in winter, more in warmer times. It depends on the speed of the herd. In winter the herd moves slowly, digging in the snow, hunting for food. Sometimes they are in one spot for a month; in spring more often. Summer every day, everything is green, and

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they are constantly on the move. When there is snow, they can hitch deer to a sled and ride to the herd to relieve the man on watch, so they need to move the large, heavy reindeer-skin tent less often. Soon they were going to switch to the canvas tent, which is easier to transport. In the morning they had to round up sled deer. I tried to help keep the deer in place while they were lassoing several others to tie up. Four ran down a draw below the tent. After they had lassoed all they needed, I asked Volokha if the deer in the draw would come back by themselves. Whats down there? Four, I said. Need to go get them, he said, walking my way. I volunteered, and he said fine. I walked down there, and the deer moved up the draw. Melting ice kept them from crossing the stream, although there was only an inch of water over very thick ice. Finally, they crossed and went up the other side and back toward the other sled deer. I was working hard to walk through the deep snow. I came back to the tent with my jacket off and shirt open. Hot, Alex? Volokha asked. I felt like a wimp, beat after that little walk. Slava returned from watch at the herd at 11:30. I fell asleep as the sun came out. I sat to boil tea and fell asleep. A wolf went by right before dawn, but I couldnt see it well enough to shoot. Need Terminator eyes and then there would be no problem. After lunch I went with Slava as he returned to the herd to check on calving does. With the deer of my sled hitched to the back of Slavas sled, we traveled along a tractor road from the tent to the herd. We came up to the rearmost deer, stopped, and got off the sleds. We slowly drove the deer east, up the valley and across a stream into new pasture. We were along the south side of a river. I asked how often they let the tundra rest to let the reindeer moss grow back. It takes 20 years for reindeer moss to grow. It varies, sometimes two, four, or five years. We travel over some areas every year. The other side of the valley doesnt have yagel [Russian for reindeer moss] because it is a corridor for the third and fifth sovkhoz herds. Two years ago they traveled over the area we were in now. Land is scarce, Slava said. Four calves were born that morning and several more during the day. Altogether, Slava cut the ears of 12 deer. The following morning Volokha cut four more. Spring means a lot of work for the herders. They need to keep a close watch on pregnant does, and they help if need be. The day a calf is born they have to catch it and notch the ears according to the owner, following the pattern on the does ears. The herders know every pattern and its owner. During tea before we left to return to camp, I asked Volokha about spirits. He was finishing off the last chunk of moose meat and said, We throw away only moose and bear bones. Deer bones must be burned or put into the water. Why? To honor the spirits. Does each deer have its own soul, or is there just one in general? Deer have a soul like people. What happens after death? They go to the upper world, just like people. The upper world is exactly the same as this one. When a person dies, some of his deer are slaughtered so that he will have them in the next world. If the deer slaughtered at his funeral are not his, then he will be poor. Likewise, if he is cremated with someone elses clothing, then in the next world he will walk naked. At the corral I was told about what happens when one slaughters deer in the name of a recently deceased person but not belonging to that person. The antlers

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are set up, and if they fall before a year has passed, then the deer belonged to someone else and did not go to the intended person. Examples included the antlers of the deer of a certain persons father, which had stood for five years already. Another said that the antlers of her mothers deer had stood for six years. Later I learned that the antlers are often knocked over by bears or other animals. This is not considered to be a random event but a directed attack on the theft of another persons deer, which is offensive to the spirit world, which acts through the bear in this world. One day several people arrived at the herd. One man, Teriocha (Sergei), came back from visiting the first sovkhoz brigade. Valeri returned with Oksana (Tanya and Volodyas oldest daughter) and their one-year-old son, Yurik. An elder, Vitya, stopped for the night on his way out fishing upstream. Oleg went to watch the herd, and the tent had eight adults and a baby in it. The weather had quieted down around 8:00 p.m. The day before it had hailed again, and we had a little rain mixed with snow. We prepared for the first phase of moving camp. With the move, we switched to a cloth tent, which was lighter and smaller. As I wrote notes late in the afternoon of April 25, I was on watch at the herd with Teriocha. Teriocha had come up from camp at about 1:00 p.m., and we had tea, brought up the laggards, and moved to the new spot where we now were, closer to the herd. He put at least three kilos of meat into the pot for us to eat. He had run out of cigarettes and was using newspaper to roll tobacco from leftover butts while the meat cooked. Yesterday I drove a sled for the first time. Slava and I were up for watch, and Valeri got two of his best deer for me and showed me how to harness them. I got the ropes confused a couple of times and dropped or almost dropped a rope connected to a deer. Valeri chided, Dont let go of that or youll be walking. This was repeated several times. If you fuck up, the deer will take off without you. Now watch Slava and do what he does. Fortunately, my deer were very well trained and tolerant of my ineptness. We walked the deer down the hill and then got ready to go at the bottom. Valeri was beside me giving me instructions, Dont put the left rein between the two deer right away because they will think its time to go and theyll take off without you. Wait until you are on the sled. We set off without incident, and I was having a blast. They were good deer and followed Slavas sled in an orderly manner. I was nearly high, thinking, This is why Im an anthropologist. No other way would I have experienced this! I even look like Santa Claus with my red Gore-Tex coat. We did not let the deer do much running because Slava was training a juvenile. I followed behind him and dumped the sled over only once. We met up with Volokha, Rita, and Teriocha, who were packing up sleds of freshly slaughtered meat for the return to camp. They gave us some meat and told Slava where to find the herd. After Slava told me we had arrived, I could not find the herd in the twilight until he pointed it out to me, right below us, on the next hump of hill. We made a fire and cooked some of the meat and had tea. We discussed life in America, music, family. His favorite band is Kino, because he enjoys Viktor Tsois words. His wife is six years his junior, although their marriage is not legally registered, but established from the native point of view. He took her off to the herd when she was 17. They have a three-year-old daughter and a seven-month-old son. Slava enjoyed high school and his foreign travel during his army service. He told me about serving in Czechoslovakia in a tank and about traveling with Volokha to Apuka on the sea coast by sled last winter. It took three days. When I asked him if he had relatives there, he responded with a gesture that he had them up to his neck. He was born and raised in Apuka and moved to Srednie Pakhachi around 1980 with his parents. Slava has relatives over a wide area,

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except in one town, where he has only a few. He commented how they lost their private herd in Apuka. Like others, he blamed them for eating all their deer themselves and not looking after them properly. Koryaks and Chukchi have known bad times with deer, and people have lost entire herds during times of famine. The best people, however, find ways to preserve a viable herd. These are reindeer people, not like the Nymylans, who live along the sea shore; and a good person is, by definition, one with many deer.22 Mishap On April 26 I wrote my notes sitting on a sled in the wind. It was cold. There was a deer head, with skin, liver, two legs, and a two-day-old calf carcass lying in front of me. As people had been leaving for their various tasks the morning before, I asked Volokha what I should do. He said, Rest, write, sleep, chop wood. I figured the last one was the best idea and set off with a sled. I found a spot with standing deadwood and picked out the driest. I chopped a branch that was sticking up in my way. Then I chopped down two dead trees and put them on the sled. I noticed another, really dry one a little farther in. I turned to my right and stepped onto soft snow, falling forward onto the small branch I had cut earlier. As I was falling, I saw it was going to hit my side and I pictured a punctured lung and dying right there in a pool of frothy blood on the snow as I had seen a deer die when the spear missed the heart and hit the lung. However, this weak, flabby anthropologist was built more sturdily than he expected. It hit a rib, and it hurt like hell, but it did not feel broken at first. After a couple minutes I got my wind back and felt OK. I cut the tree and loaded the sled. Suddenly, I had no strength at all. My chest and side hurt a lot. I could not breathe and hobbled to the tent. I lay down in great pain, telling Slava what had happened. I had a hard time breathing because of the pain, then I could not get enough oxygen. I panicked or was just in general shock. I was panting hoarsely. Slava, Oksana, and Rita looked at me worriedly but could do nothing, while I just stared back at them and tried to breathe. Slava set out a couple of skins in the corner for me. I could not move all day for the pain in my side and chest. Volokha came back from watch that evening and commented, What? Are you injured? Have to send you back to town. Youll die in the tundra. Later I explained to him what happened. He did not comment. The next day I still felt very sore. I arose with everyone else but did not do anything when Valeri and Oleg left to visit the fifth sovkhoz herd. My whole torso ached and hurt only when I moved. Lying, walking, and sitting did not hurt me much, but picking something up or moving my upper body was very painful. I slowly walked to the top of the hill next to the tent and looked around a bit. I found a spot sheltered from the wind and sat there a while to be alone. My relationship with the herders was at a nadir. They had rejected me as I was incapacitated. I did not want sympathy, just some decent company. They were not telling me stories or volunteering explanations, as they had before I broke my rib. I felt depressed and unmotivated to work at all. I came back to the tent and slept for a time. The pain became easier. Slava came back around noon and told us that a wolf killed two deer and the herd trampled ten calves. We had tea, and I left with Slava to salvage meat from the kills. I was thankful he asked for my help, and I took the opportunity to demonstrate my ability to be a real human being.23 We each controlled a single deer pulling a sled across the bare tundra as we walked up the ridge. Teriocha was waiting for us high on the ridge next to one of the carcasses, where he and Slava shared a smoke. Slava went farther up the hill to fetch the deer he had buried under snow away

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from the ravens, while I sat next to the carcass Teriocha had kept from the scavengers. I was chilled from waiting by the time Slava returned with the carcass. He set about dressing what was left of the carcass I had guarded from the ravens. He had ruined his knife blade hacking the antlers off the head of the deer he had buried, so he asked me for mine. I was not happy about having my own knife dinged by the hard antlers of the second deer, but I gave it to him. Since it was dull, the blade was not dented on the antlers. Slava commented on that later during dinner, and Volokha answered that it was a good knife, despite Slavas disparaging remarks earlier. We loaded my sled with the second wolf kill and went down the hill, avoiding snow so as not to slide into the deer pulling the sleds. On a snowy patch, I got into trouble with the sled pointing sideways and downhill from the deer. Slava simply waited at the bottom without offering help. Men do not ask or offer help when a man is having difficulties but is not in serious trouble. They let him take care of it himself, which I managed this time. I moved the sled around and guided it and the deer to the bottom. Slava joked about getting a nap but did not disparage my ineptness. We had pea soup for dinner, which was the last of our groceries, aside from meat, tea, and salt. Volokha and Rita arrived about the same time as Oleg and Valeri. Volokha and Rita had been taking down the skin tent and packing it up for transport back to town. Volokha asked if I had healed. I said, More or less. Valeri and Oleg had seen several wolves on their trip to visit the fifth sovkhoz brigade, who had also run out of groceries. No luck getting any food or tobacco from them. During dinner Volokha commented about going hungry. I said that Slava and I went hungry on the ridge all day (for about ten hours). Volokha and Oleg said that is common. You go hungry all the time in the tundra. You look thinner. Many people dont hold up. The day after I arrived I had said that I planned to stay two weeks. Ritas response was, If you hold up. Now I was not sure if I would hold up since the combination of difficult conditions, monotonous diet, injury, and less friendly attitudes from my associates was dispiriting. The exertion on the ridge with Slava made my torso ache severely the day afterward, and I felt physically and psychologically beaten up. Briggs (1970) also describes the torture of being shunned for improper behavior among a small group of Inuit living on the tundra. I tried to avoid her mistakes by pooling all my food with the group and avoiding outbursts. People had described to me how elders shunned children who were behaving improperly instead of scolding them as Russians do. Speaking Russian with an accent and Koryak barely at all, I seemed childlike, and my constant ineptness must have been more annoying than amusing, but they never gave up on me completely. One evening Valeri and Slava invited me to eat raw bone marrow. Although I prefer it cooked, I ate the buttery meat. Valeri handed me a cleaned leg bone to crack open by smacking it with the back of my knife. I was not very good at it, and twice he said, Its very simple, just do it like this. Whenever I had difficulty mastering some local skill, people in Kamchatka got impatient with my ineptness and insisted that it was simple.24 Teriocha and Valeri arrived on foot near dark, about 9:00 p.m. We had dinner. I had already eaten before they arrived, so I just had a cup of tea. I guess I was staring. I was so exhausted, I could do little more than sit and stare in front of myself. I was just sitting there. Volokha asked, Is it interesting how we eat? I did not understand; I thought he was joking. A moment later he pointed out the door of the tent, at the herd, and said, Look out there, Alex, at the herd. Watch the herd. It is not polite to watch a person. I felt horrible, alienated. I was definitely other. They were tired of me, and I was tired of them. I looked at the

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ground, went outside and stood around, then collected my stuff that I had set out to dry. I went to sleep early before the others. Volokha arose at first light the next day and started the fire. I got up before he roused the others, worried about appearing lazy. The men spent all morning catching sled deer to take the skin tent back to town. At breakfast I asked if they (Teriocha and Oleg) could take me with them to town today. I need to see the doctor. My side still hurts. Im worried that its broken. Rita sneered, Let him go on foot. Volokha calmly replied, No problem, no problem. But they could not take me in addition to the heavy load. This was probably for the better, since it kept me from leaving when relations seemed the most strained. The night that Teriocha and Oleg left for Srednie, I held watch with Slava. When I told Valeri that I was going to hold watch he perked up, as if I was doing a good thing. Lying around useless had gotten me into trouble with my hosts, but my side hurt very much. When your bones are broken, you just want to lie around and let them heal, but there is no such rest possible for reindeer herders. They have to take it in stride and go on with work as best they can. Slava and I went across the flat tundra to a hill about 20 minutes walk away. The herd had looped around the other side of the ridge, turned down the hill, gone right past the tent, and was then about a kilometer away. Apparently the fifth sovkhoz brigade had closed off the way by passing across our route, so the private herd had to turn toward the sea two weeks earlier than originally planned. We looked for some dead pine and set up a fire. A cold wind was blowing out of the west, and the sky was clear. A crescent moon was setting in the western sky as the twilight eclipsed. As we boiled tea and roasted liver, lungs, and udder, taken from the wolf kills, the stars came out. I noticed that the Big Dipper was straight up and that Polaris was also high in the sky at this northern latitude. Although the clear sky made for a colder night, a truly starry sky is something I rarely see in my relatively urban life. The next day was the first of May. I had been living with the herders for only 12 days, but it seemed like a month. After being relieved from watch and eating breakfast, Slava and I went to go fishing on a sleigh ride from hell. Volokha told us to take his deer, the ones with which he had won the second race at the corral. Slava said he would tie my deer to his sled, and I was disappointed. It would be a boring ride with nothing to do but sit on the sled behind and hold the left rein, as I had done several times before. I realized my misapprehension when I could not even get the deer untied. I had the rope wrapped around my right, mittened hand, and was trying to untie the knot, when they decided to run off. I was knocked over and dragged over dried pine bushes. My left hand got badly scraped and, picturing broken fingers, a shredded coat, the rest of me scraped and cut, and my rib puncturing an organ, I let go. After all, the deer were still tied to the bush. Slava came up to help me. It was really cold out (I guess about 10 degrees Celsius), making it difficult to untie the knots. He got them down to the sled and scolded me for letting go, saying I must hang on even if it hurt. I kept silent and agreed. It was tricky getting those two jittery two year olds hitched up. Slava jumped on (I was already on), and we took off like a shot across the flat field. Slavas deer were also young three year olds, and they decided to make two large circles at top speed before he got them pointed the right direction. I felt Phaetons terror as he rode in his fathers chariot, even though I had an experienced hand guiding my team. We flew along the tractor road toward the trees. We stopped to let the deer urinate and then continued through the woods at top speed. The stream had some places of open water, which the deer leaped over and the sleds splashed through. The deer slipped and scrambled on the ice but

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did not slow down. They were so excited to run that my deer were pulling at the tether on Slavas sled. Instead of Slava leading my team, they were desperately trying to pass him! We charged up a hill, and the sled careened back and forth. We followed some ruts and I dumped my sled. I bailed off at the right time so as not to land on my head, and I was thankful my rib was not any worse for the fall. We finally got to the fishing spot on the river. We tied the deer to tundra humps. Sprouts of some kind of plant the deer like were coming up, so they were happy to eat them. Slava set up metal fish lures I had brought from the States with a rubber squiggly on a hook. We each caught two trout as we snoozed on our sleds over the holes in the ice. The ride home was calmer but still frightening. When we arrived back at camp, Slava mentioned that we had gotten a glimpse of a sacred rock, which was several miles away. Volokha asked, Did you pray? No, we were kind of far away. You must pray, doesnt matter if you are far away. When you look at a person, whether human or not, you must address him or her.25 Just to look is impolite. It started snowing around 10:00 p.m., just as Valeri arrived. The elders he had visited had given him five arctic char, a pack of cigarettes, a little sugar, and some rice for helping them set up their yayanaga. The news was that a villager died in Tilichiki hospital. The next morning I cut some firewood for the woodpile next to the stove and brought up the subject of Christian Koryaks with Slava and Valeri, who were sitting nearby. They both insisted that Christian Koryaks are not real Koryaks anymore: They are something else entirely. If you change your religion, then you have to change your whole culture and traditions, take on the way of life of Christians, Russians. Volokha, Slava, and Rita left to visit the fifth brigade to ask them to change their route and open the way for us. Volokha asked me to watch the herd that afternoon. I would have preferred to visit the sovkhoz herders, but understanding that was not an option, I did not ask. I was left alone at the tent as everyone departed on their short trips to talk to other people, while I was supposed to watch the deer. I felt ditched, frustrated in my goal to talk to people about herding. Valeri came back from watch and said a wolf killed a deer and the herd trampled some calves. When I told him I was going to watch the herd, he said that he and Oksana would come out later (see Figure 5). He asked me to set up a camp fire with wood and a tripod. I walked out and found the herd about three kilometers away. They were really spread out, but I did not know what to do. I found a spot and got firewood, but I did not have any matches with me, so I could not light a fire. The sun was out, and it was warm when sheltered from the wind. The herd moved west, so my pile of firewood and the tripod I had cut from a young tree were now too far away from the herd. I gathered up the tripod and the driest pieces of wood and lugged them across the open tundra, which was grassy and easy walking. The wood was heavy, however, and my ribs smarted from the exertion. I dropped the heaviest piece of wood and continued west with the herd. Pretty soon, I was dropping firewood every 100 meters. After less than a kilometer, I caught up to the herd and set down the tripod and the two pieces of remaining firewood. I felt silly, carrying firewood around the tundra, when herders just make a fire where the wood is. I had to collect more firewood from snow-encrusted pine bushes. When Oksana and Valeri arrived, a warm fire was going in no time, and we had tea with frybread Oksana had made with flour from the elder whom Valeri had visited the day before. Valeri asked me, Did any deer go over the ridge over there? Only a few, but they are just on the other side, eating.

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Figure 5 Valeri (left) with his wife Oksana and son Yurik. Photo by Alexander King. Hmmm. The herd looks kind of small. I will go check to see who all is over there. I should bring them back. Oksana and I chatted while Valeri patrolled the herd. After about a half hour, deer started coming back over the ridge. First there were just a few, then more and more. I had nearly lost half of the herd and had not noticed! Valeri came over the hill last and told us that, while he was walking, he saw a wolf and tried to shoot at it, but the melkashka (.22 rifle) did not have its firing pin. Damn! There is a 2,000 ruble (US$333) bounty on wolves paid by a hunting organization in Tilichiki. We had more tea. We wondered if the delegation to the sovkhoz herd had returned. I walked back to the tent, where Volokha and the others had just arrived. We got some meat and smokes from the fifth herd, but they are just as poor as we are. They agreed to alter the route, allowing the private herd to continue west before turning toward the sea. During Soviet times, the routes were more strictly planned and managed, but now the private herders and the few remaining sovkhoz brigades agree on the routes among themselves. They have to balance pasture management with access to fishing streams, base camps set up in the tundra, and periodic proximity to the village. I gave them the rifle, and they set about filing down a nail for a replacement firing pin (that was what the old one was made from). I changed into warmer clothes and left with Slava to go on watch for the night. Slava could sleep lying in the snow with his reindeer-fur clothing, but since I did not have that, I needed a skin mat for insulation. Slava had brought udder and lungs to roast, which were spongier than when they were boiled and therefore strange to me. We dozed maybe an hour before Slava awoke me. In the predawn a wolf spooked the herd. Slava told me to make tea while he checked out what was happening. When he returned, he drank the whole pot. I was still full of tea from supper. I have never seen anyone drink as

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much tea as reindeer herders, even when they are in town. Hot tea adds heat to a body at rest.26 Meanwhile, Teriocha and Oleg were in Srednie, and they told Volodya that I wanted to return to town. Dima volunteered to fetch me with his dog team, and the following day he came out to the herd. As I took my leave of the group, I gave my large knife to Volokha, and he was happy to receive it. I gave my snowshoes to Slava, and he was equally glad for those. I had already given Valeri my headlamp at the corral. We left at 7:30 a.m. and made good time, reaching abandoned Upper Pakhachi around 9:30. We had tea outside a house used by sovkhoz haymakers in the summer. As Dima offered the enelwit to the fire, he commented, I used to think only we did that, make an offering to the fire. Then I learned that its common all over the world. Indians, Africans, people in South America, in short, every nation of the world practices it, honoring the fire. As I talked to more people, I found that many considered enelwit to be an offering to the fire itself, which was an important person as well as a gatewaythe source of all life, heat, light, as one elder said. We left Upper Pakhachi around 10:30 and went along a snowmobile trail near the left bank of the river, which was thawing, and we passed open holes on either side of us, but the ice was still thick for the most part. At one point the dogs were not paying close enough attention to Dimas commands, and they towed us across a hole. When the sled got stuck, I tried to push with my feet as Dima heaved the sled to the right and yelled at the dogs to pull it out before it went any further. At another place, the dogs ran across some thin ice in the middle of the river, and it was cracking as we raced across it. He shouted at them to keep them at top speed. We stopped along the last tributary just outside of town to talk to a man walking in the road. He was a herder returning to the third sovkhoz herd. When Dima told him I was an American (in Koryak), he immediately turned to me and said (in Russian), If we had our own land, our own republic here [drawing circles with his hand]. . . . A Chukotskii Republic? I suggested. Yes. If we were separate from Russia, we would declare war on the United States and then surrender the next day, so that the Americans would come and occupy our country. We get nothing from Russia but misery. The boss lives well and thats it. He has everything, is well, and doesnt think about other people, about how were living with nothing.27 Volodya came out to meet us just as we were tying up Dimas dogs. We walked to Volodya and Tanyas house where I was staying and had tea. I joked about nearly losing half of the herd. My hosts were enchanted with the stories about driving a sled, keeping watch over the herd, and my breaking a rib. The doctor told me there was nothing that could be done for it, just let it heal. Conclusion My sojourn with the private herd was short, just two weeks plus five days at the spring corral a week earlier, but my friends in town thought it was a long time. Native people in the village now took me more seriously, as I had demonstrated a serious desire to learn their lifeways personally. I understood better peoples discourses on traditions and their priorities, and I could ask more interesting questions. People volunteered explanations and demonstrations that I would not have received otherwise, such as a dog sacrifice after a funeral, beliefs and practices surrounding childbirth and menstruation, and family rituals of remembrance for the ancestors and giving honor to the deer in the spring.

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This article aims to go beyond conventional representations of sudden baptisms into native society or other stories of the rapport . . . achieved in fieldwork (Fox 1991:6). My trials in the tundra certainly gave me symbolic capital with the natives; I had demonstrated an empathy with their lives by participating in the activity dearest to their hearts. More important, it was the only way to gain information on herding practices, religion, and the person, without which I would not have been able to understand the key points elders wanted to make in subsequent discussions. Knowing these local pragmatics was necessary to understand the indigenous signs belonging to reindeer herding, which contrasted with the orientalist images of reindeer herding found in administrative brochures, magazine articles, and politicians speeches. Whereas Russians and other incomers in Kamchatka essentialize native people through a stereotype of the primitive, I found that my Chukchi and Koryak consultants had a sophisticated, praxis-centered theory of culture implicit in their discourse about deer and people. When Chukchi and Koryaks talk about their culture in town, their culture resides in the past and in the tundra, certainly not in the here and now. They negatively judge themselves as having lost traditions, and they judge current practices as a debilitated shadow of what their parents and grandparents used to do. At the reindeer herd and in the tundra, which is not a wild (dikoe) place as it is for local Russians and foreign anthropologists, native people express a sense of culture that is rooted in the here and now (King 2002). This is why they all but forced me to experience reindeer herding myself firsthand. Reindeer are implicated in all aspects of social life. For example, the sovkhoz is the institution where deer mediate a history and continuing ambiguous relationship between people and the state. Privately owned deer are literally tied to humans in the sacred household bundles (gichgiyuritual fireboards, wooden charms, carvings, and other talismans tied together with sinew), which are the material manifestations of ancestors, living humans, deer, and other nonhuman persons. Important sacred fires are started with a bow and drill set into a hole of the households fireboard. These boards have a round head with a simply carved face on one end, and the body is a rectangle covered with holes for the fire drill. When a board is worn out, a new one is made, but the old one is left tied to the bundle of charms, or at least the head is sawed off and retained in the bundle. Each individual element in the bundle is fed with fat at all important household rituals, which are conducted to remember the recently deceased, honor the deer herd, and pay respect to other spirits, all through the same act. Over the years, fat, soot, and dirt work to give the boards and other charms a deep black sheen. The fireboard is at once master of the hearth and master of the herd; household and herd are one and the same.28 Ingold argues that deer are incorporated into human social organization analogous to jural minors, subject to the authority of their human master (2000:72). The domination of animals by humans, how