Arctic Yearbook 2015
Chukotka Autonomous Region (1997) protects indigenous peoples’ rights in Articles 1, 3, 19, 43 and
63 (Kriazhkov, 2006). Indeed, on paper, indigenous rights in Russia have robust protection by law. In
practice however, terms are defined broadly and often regional and federal statutes are misaligned,
resulting in conflicting interpretations and application of the law.6
As outlined in more detail in the next section, the leadership of Chukotka’s indigenous political
organizations, made up of members of the former Soviet indigenous intelligentsia, sought outside help
from the transnational indigenous rights movement, which was particularly evident throughout the
circumpolar north (Gray 2007). Through collaboration with the Inuit Circumpolar Council and
Alaskan municipal associations, humanitarian aid, funding, equipment, and various projects were
established throughout the Russian Far East to help indigenous peoples survive the transition.
However, the new millennium would bring a new centralizing force to the Russian presidency,
eventually curtailing international aid and reframing the debate regarding indigenous selfdetermination as conflicting with nationalist principles of equality.
Despite the initially negative effects of the transition, the changes that have taken place over the last
two decades could provide the basis for a reawakening of indigenous identity and control in Chukotka.
At the same time, such a reawakening must be viewed within the broader context that shapes
indigenous-state relations in Russia at the start of the 21st century. The following section w