Ancestral culture to have its future

Ancestral culture to have its future

June 26, 2023

Anfisa Nikiforova, head of the North Indigenous Minorities department at Nornickel’s Polar Division, popularizes indigenous peoples’ culture.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. We continue the series of publications about the Nornickel corporate festival Stars Corporation winners. Today we will tell you about Anfisa Nikiforova and the ethno-folklore group Yurgel.

As is clear from Anfisa’s position title, work with the culture of the North indigenous low-numbered peoples is her direct activity, but she expands it on a voluntary basis. Back in 2010, the ethno-folklore group Yurgel (from the Dolgan ‘stars pleiad’) was formed, and for many years its representatives – together and separately – have been popularizing the Taimyr traditions:

“I myself am a Dolgan woman, therefore, I think, my interest in expanding our culture’s boundaries is understandable. Of course, not only the Dolgans’, but also the Nenets’, Enets’, Evenks’ and Nganasans’”.

Anfisa says that the ethno-folklore group is not just called the ‘stars pleiad’ – it really includes stars, unique people, widely known as carriers and popularizers of the Taimyr indigenous peoples’ culture. For example, Anton Laptukov is the choreographic group Huluskan head, a teacher of the children’s art school named after. B.N. Molchanova; Adea Yeske – the Dolgan Union chairman; Polina Fedoseeva – the Dolgan Union member; Vasily Batagay is the head of the department of arts and crafts and fine arts at the Taimyr House of Folk Art.

Anfisa herself was long the chairman of the Dudinka City Association of Taimyr Indigenous Minorities (TIM), deputy chairman of the TIM Association, and today is the first vice-president of the Krasnoyarsk region Indigenous Minorities Association.

The ensemble’s founder in 2010 was a Dolgan people’s representative, a respected elder Evgenia Roganina. Today she is on a well-deserved rest, and Yurgel is headed by a young bright Dolgan Vasily Batagay.

“We are representatives of the Taimyr indigenous peoples, living on our ancestors’ land and preserving what they carried from time immemorial. Generations and times change, but the North indigenous peoples’ culture remains unchanged, because it is preserved by people who live in Taimyr and love their homeland. This is what made it possible to bring our national holidays, traditions, and rituals to the present day. It’s nice that they are supported by other communities that are not related to the indigenous peoples. And we, in turn, are ready to represent our culture not only in Taimyr, but also far beyond its borders. Vivid examples are the ethnic holidays Big Argish, Ethnic camp, The North Treasures and others, that we visit with great joy and pride”, our heroine shares.

Anfisa says that the Yurgel performance at the Stars Corporation festival, although it was a debut, did not cause jitters – all the ethnic group members have accumulated tremendous experience in joint and individual performances.

“We regularly gather with our fellow countrymen, participate in various events, national holidays, sing songs, conduct ceremonies, meet the sun, prepare national dishes. We were happy to demonstrate our original culture. Everyone has their own experience, for example, I am an ex-soloist of the Dolgan choir Araduoy. It still exists today, and whenever possible I try to come to its performances. Each member of our team has their own personal projects, – says Anfisa. – Of course, such extensive experience in public work gives a significant advantage. It is important and pleasant for us to bring to people what we have absorbed since childhood, while growing up in the Taimyr villages”.

The nature of the performance at the festival, she believes, cannot be described as exclusively vocal or choreographic. The number is folklore, but it also included a live voice singing in the Dolgan language, and playing the bargan, and a fragment of the indigenous peoples’ rituals, in particular, the tradition of tying ribbons for good luck on sacred trees. The performance became a multi-colored culture of indigenous peoples, included a part of the innermost for each of the five speakers and those on whose behalf they speak.

“To be honest, we did not expect, being debutants, to become co-winners of the festival. We have seen how many other good performances are presented. But we did not participate for the sake of a prize: it was more important to show our culture”, Anfisa is sure.

This year, Yurgel does not take part in the festival, giving others the opportunity to express themselves more widely. Maybe it sounds immodest, our heroine says, but they want everyone to have a chance to present their talents, because very talented people work in the company. And the Yurgel participants can be seen more than once at other venues.

“We are preparing for the presentation of a unique project, which has no analogues in the world. It’s dedicated to the preservation of indigenous peoples’ culture, languages, rituals, songs, fairy tales, legends. I won’t reveal the details yet. And on July 8, we hold a large ethnic camp in Dudinka, dedicated to the International Day of Family, Love and Fidelity, where we will meet with our fellow countrymen. We invite you to visit us in Taimyr”, Anfisa Nikiforova shares her plans.

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Text: Maria Sokolova, Photo: Anfisa Nikiforova’s personal archive

June 26, 2023

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