IP-05 USA NSF – Home, Hearth, and Household in Siberia and Northern Canada

John P. Ziker, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
Boise State University

Boris Elogir of Ust’ Avam, Taimyr Russia reclining by the hearth (ochak) in a newly built conical pole lodge (uraha di'e) he raised in the spring 2007 to teach his grandchildren about traditional dwellings. The covering comprises a synthesis of the traditional eldun sewn from reindeer hides, along with some manufactured canvas. (Photo: John P. Ziker)The project supports primary ethnographic, demographic, and spatial studies in indigenous communities in the Central and Eastern Taimyr Region and participatory research exchanges with northern native Canadians and Siberians. Two combined ethnographic and ethno-archaeological research seasons are proposed for the Taimyr Region to develop comparative information on vernacular architecture of mobile dwellings, the social use and importance of space, and site formation processes. Analysis of the 1926/27 Polar Census is planned to elaborate the historical demography of the region, particularly on the issues of land use, culture contact, and identity. Combined with current census information to be gathered during fieldwork, the project will study the dynamics of historic and contemporary households. Two ethno-archaeological expeditions with Russian archaeologists are proposed for the Vitim River to develop information on the use of space in a region inhabited since the Paleolithic. A series of research exchanges between craftspeople and representatives from the Tlicho First Nation and anthropologists at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, and the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center in Yellowknife will elaborate a participatory method of repatriation of knowledge between museums and local communities.

Together with its sister projects in “Home, Hearth, and Household in the Circumpolar North”, the central aims and objectives are to conduct primary ethnographic and ethnoarchaeological fieldwork in Siberia, to support the reinvigoration of traditional knowledge about caribou skin lodges, to support the work of regional scholars and indigenous peoples in Siberia and Canada, to understand the role of circumpolar dwellings as arenas of learning and memory, mobility in and interaction with the environment, and as the social center of households, to link contemporary ethnographic and ethnoarchaeological work to recently available historical demographic records, and to support public access to important historical and ethnographic data sets in local languages.