Indigenous Сultures and Universities Interaction: A Сase of Tähti

Сase of Tähti

The popularization and modernization of indigenous cultures has been a long-standing problem in the Russian Arctic and adjacent regions.

Regions of the of the Northwestern Federal District, with the exception of Kaliningrad, are involved in native language specialist training and cultural development. From training teachers to organizing large-scale events involving the indigenous cultures of the Russian Arctic.

However, regarding student participation, the situation diverges significantly. Despite the presence of numerous student unions and groups in Northwestern universities, the majority lack organizations dedicated to the indigenous cultures of their regions or ancestors. All federal subjects either lack projects related to the indigenous peoples of the Arctic or have projects initiated by university staff rather than students. For instance, Pskov State University established the Pskov Centre for Seto Learning, led by a professor, without any student clubs focusing on Seto culture.

Other regions of Russia like Arkhangelsk (including Nenets AO) and Vologda have groups promoting an all-Russian identity or focusing solely on local Russian culture, neglecting indigenous cultures in their programs.

The only exception being Murmansk Oblast, which has a club called "Arctic fashion laboratory". The Murmansk group includes Sami traditional clothes in their works, but this is where the connection with the indigenous peoples ends.

The Republic of Komi only has one organizations that mentions the Komi language and culture — The Center for Patriotic Education and Interethnic Cooperation, which was primarily created for patriotic education and international students. Nevertheless, the center still holds events relating to the Komi people.

When it comes to Karelia, out of the 29 creative clubs, only three mention Karelian culture or language, and all three are singing or dancing clubs. However, there is also a fourth club, which was created in 2022.

Tähti | Society of Karelian Culture and Language

Compared to previous groups, the Society of Karelian Culture and Language "Tähti" has much broader goals. This is the only club that claims to further develop the Karelian language and even the broader Finno-Ugric culture among young people.

indigenous cultures
Tähti | Society of Karelian Culture and Language

In conclusion, despite efforts to promote indigenous cultures in the Russian Arctic and nearby areas, significant challenges persist, notably in student engagement. While some regions have cultural development initiatives, student involvement is limited. Emerging groups like "Tähti" offer promise for broader engagement and heritage preservation among youth, yet further efforts are required to integrate and celebrate indigenous cultures.

of Tähti
Tähti | Society of Karelian Culture and Language

Maxim Kuropov