Russian North is an event about people, young and creative

By Roman Movchan and Olga Ievleva – the “Arctic Youth”

The ninth edition of the “Russian North” forum for young indigenous peoples of Russia took place in Salekhard on November 21-24.

Russian North has already become a traditional event for Indigenous peoples of the North, Far East and Siberia. The event has started as a platform for the exchange of experience and education of young people from Indigenous communities. Recent editions of the event have been conducted in the framework of an event campaign held by the Federal Agency on Youth Affairs, “Rosmolodezh”. This year, the Forum has gathered 100 participants from 21 regions of Russia.

Russian North is an event about people. The Forum gathers young, creative representatives of Indigenous communities who are eager to promote and maintain their heritage. During several days, Indigenous youth had a chance to exchange experiences, find new friends, create something new or even meet their long-lost relatives.

Women in traditional Nenets clothes. Photo by Dmitry Voroshirin

The forum programme contained several tracks within which participants were working in teams. There were five teams: save languages, promote traditional handcraft, become a leader, inspire with art, and create content.

This year, international cooperation was the focus of the Forum. In particular, issues related to the possibility of indigenous peoples’ participation in the UN were discussed in detail. The Arctic Council was discussed to a lesser extent. However, as we learned, representatives of the RAIPON attended events of the Arctic Council in October 2023.

During the Forum, participants were presented with the School of Public Diplomacy. One of the School’s founders, Alexei Tsykarev, gave a curious report on who can be a student, how to join it, and what advantages it provides. The School can be viewed as a social elevator for young Indigenous people since it provides them with sufficient knowledge on interacting with authorities, protecting their rights, and presenting themselves. What is more important, the winners of the School are provided with an opportunity to gain a university education at Indigenous peoples related programmes and give a speech at the UN presenting all indigenous peoples of Russia.

The best part about the School of Public Diplomacy presentation was an opportunity to see real graduates and winners of the School who shared their own experiences of studying there and presenting at the UN.

It was interesting to hear about how modern society in Russia solves the problems of Indigenous peoples. For example, if many indigenous peoples were embarrassed about their ethnicity, now there is a growing ethnic pride. People strive to preserve languages and enthusiastically talk about their achievements.

Rite of purification and crossing the Arctic Circle. Photo by Dmitry Voroshirin

The culmination of the Forum was a concert organized by the participants, who danced, sang and played traditional instruments. Each movement and sound reflected the identity of the people and their rich cultural heritage, as well as the impact of the climate and nature they lived in. The Forum revealed the rich and colourful cultures of the North, as well as the limitless creativity and talents of people living there.

Final performance of the “Russian North” forum participants. Photo by Dmitry Voroshirin

About the Author: Arctic Youth

Arctic Youth (est. 2023) is an international community of young people interested in the Arctic and its development. Our goal is to create a community of young people who care about the Arctic and its future. What we are doing: popularizing the Arctic and raising awareness about what is happening in the region (projects: The Faces of the Arctic - young people living in the North talk about themselves and their homeland; interviews with experts in Arctic studies); creating a community of young Arctic experts (round tables and panel discussions where students and early career researchers can present the results of their research); presenting opportunities for personal and professional growth in the North and the field of Arctic studies (publication of job positions, events, scholarships and other funding opportunities); promoting international youth cooperation with priority given to the Arctic countries.

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