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Itelmen Language Classes in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski

This project results from an initiative of Tjan Zaotschnaja and aims to support the preservation of the Itelmen language in Kamchatka. It is being conducted in cooperation with the Munich-based group of the Society for Threatened Peoples ("Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker – Regionalgruppe München").

The Itelmen language is one of the most threatened languages in the world. There are only about two dozen remaining speakers of the older generation who speak the language fluently. At the same time, among Itelmen youth and in particular among those who live in the capital of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski, there is a growing interest in maintaining their native language. For them, it embodies not only specific indigenous knowledge; it links them to their ancestors, one of the most ancient peoples of Kamchatka.

In 2010, a first project – organized and driven by Tjan Zaotschnaja – was launched by the Foundation for Siberian Cultures in cooperation with the Munich-based group of the Society for Threatened Peoples and supported by the organization pro Siberia e.V.. Funding was provided to cover travel and accommodation costs in St. Petersburg of a future Itelmen teacher to take his exams there and the publication of his first Itelmen textbook.

The photos show the teacher, Viktor Ryzhkov, who has been supported by this project, while he is teaching classes in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski and in the Elizovo-district. (Photos by Al'bina Morilova)