26 Jan 2022

Indigenous Arctic Communities of Chukotka

Rich in history and culture, Chukotka is home to many native cultures including Chukchi, Inuit, Even, Koryak, Chuvan and Yukaghir. Archeologists have found indigenous artifacts here dating back to 500 BC. The region’s name was derived from the native Chukchi word “Chukcha,” meaning “having many deer.” Traditionally, the Chukchi were nomadic reindeer herders who depended on them for clothing, food, shelter and transportation. 

Each year, we try to time our first Chukotka expedition to coincide with the Beringia Arctic Games and Festival. Indigenous communities in Beringia gather to share, honour and celebrate their cultures and compete in a series of games – from whaleboat regattas to wrestling and tug-of-war matches. Singers and dance troupes perform on stage, art and crafts are displayed for purchase, and traditional food stalls compete for the best Arctic specialties. 

The native coastal village of Uelen is the closest Eurasian settlement to North America. Mostly inhabited by Chukchi, Uelen is known for its walrus tusk carving studio which houses an impressive collection of intricately carved tusks, jewellery and ornaments. A stop at the local museum is also a must to learn about the history and lifestyle of the indigenous maritime communities.

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