Extraction of remains of the mammoth fauna and local communities of the Arctic territories of Yakutia at the end of the 20th century 

Grigorev S.A.


Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnografii, 2021, 3 (54)




              page 239246




Studying the consequences of exploitation of indigenous territories is an urgent topic of modern science. This study presents the result of the research on the history of the development of a special type of resources mammoth tusks in northern Yakutia. The paper is aimed at the analysis of impact of the new sector of the economy in the region on the local communities. It was also important to identify the sequence of the events that facilitated this development. The methodological basis of the study is represented by the historical method of analyzing archival data, periodicals, and legal and scientific literature on this subject. Sources for the paper included materials from the National Archive of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), regional periodicals, as well as legal and reference materials covering this crucial stage in the development of the local indigenous communities. Despite the fact that extraction of fossil mammoth bone has been carried out for a long time, its active development began only at the end of the 20th century. The formation and progress of such a new type of mining activity has left a special impression on the development of the local population engaged in the traditional farming. Opportunities and the weak state control in this area have created favorable conditions for the emergence of a special environment for economic relations. This has had a significant impact on social well-being of the local indigenous peoples. During this period, a special situation developed when, due to objective reasons, mammoth tusks turned from an object of natural origin that did not cause any interest into a valuable, highly sought resource. The growing global demand for mammoth remains and the removal of barriers for external contacts in the Soviet Union stimulated the rapid development of the fundamentally different structure of socio-economic relations in the Arctic zone. As a result, this situation greatly influenced the state of the local indigenous communities. The areas of their traditional living became a territory of intensive development of new resources, which brought about real environmental and social threats, but also new opportunities. The new prospects, as well as the state unreadiness to regulate the emerging market of wild mammoth bone, created all conditions for the emergence of a special area of economic relations spanning the Arctic regions of Yakutia. This almost neglected factor undoubtedly had significant impact on the social well-being of the indigenous peoples living in the region at the end of the 20th century.

Keywords: indigenous peoples, Yakutia, fossil mammoth bone, industrial development, late 20th century, Arctic zone, environment, subsoil use.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 27.05.2020

Article is published: 27.08.2021


Grigorev S.A., Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North of Siberian branch of the RAS, Petrovskogo st., 1, Yakutsk, 677027, Russian Federation, E-mail: DeTample@yandex.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9365-0122