Research Projects

The Small Indigenous Nations of the Northern Russia and Their Rights as an Indigenous People. An Analysis of Current Administrative Policies on the Traditional Culture and Livelihood of the Indigenous Minorities of Northern Russia


This is a ground-breaking study in political science that will, on both an individual and a comprehensive basis, examine the "Small Indigenous Nations" of Northern Russia focussing on the political dimensions of their traditional culture and means of livelihood and how these are currently situated within the Russian national economy and polity. These indigenous minorities have practised a subsistence lifestyle over centuries through fishing, hunting, trapping and reindeer husbandry. After the Second World War, huge industrial enclaves and development projects have been established throughout this region. In 1990, indigenous minorities in Siberia and the Far East regions of Russia mobilized into a national association to enunciate their needs to national and local authorities--the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON).

The core material for this study is currently being obtained through a series of field trips whereby researchers with the Russian Academy of Sciences will visit the main centres of twenty-two different northern indigenous minorities to conduct interviews. The questions are open-ended to ensure flexibility, yet structured so as to provide a consistency and to ensure that comparisons can be made. The field research is being funded by the Finnish Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of the Environment. This research builds on the results of a successful pilot project, initiated in 1997, which culminated in the publication of The Small Indigenous Nations of Northern Russia: A Guide for Researchers (Vaasa: Abo Akademi University; 1999). A control consociationalism typology will be applied to the interview data to determine the control exercised by the state over the cultural identity of these indigenous minorities and the determination of these people to seek a consociational or consensus democracy-type of situation with the authorities whereby they would have a role in decision-making in matters of direct concern to their way of life.

This research project is consistent with Finland's Northern Dimension initiative as well as its continuing commitments within the Arctic Council process. It builds on a partnership Aleksanted Institute has established with the Russian Academy of Sciences and will expand on co-operative arrangements that have been developed with senior officials of ministries of the Russian government and with leaders of RAIPON. The analysis of such a unique and massive data base that current field research is generating and the publication of its results will be a major contribution to political science research on an important and sensitive subject and will place Finland in the forefront of cutting edge research on the human condition in the Arctic region.

Project leader: Lennard Sillanpää

Funding Period: 2000-2002