modern Koryak family with sled and dog

Russians streamed into the Kamchatka region and transformed Koryak communities. The influx of outsiders turned the Koryak nation (presently 9,000 people) into a minority on their own land. Smaller villages were closed, and their residents were relocated to larger new communities with mixed populations. Continuing resettlement uprooted most of the former Koryak tribal divisions, and the entire nation was placed under enormous pressure to assimilate.

But that very policy finally triggered a revival. When a tiny community of Paren' Koryak refused to abandon their old village in 1985, the story of Paren' resistance attracted attention from the media, from other Koryak, and even from international Native organizations. In the late 1980's, Koryak activists gained political momentum. A Koryak Native association has been created, and in 1990 the Koryak Autonomous Area seceded from Kamchatka Province to become an independent member of the Russian Federation.

- Igor Krupnik
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