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Shows on the web  |  August  2015

The Itelmens – an indigenous people on Kamchatka in the Russian Far East

Around 2500 Itelmen people live along the west coast of the Kamchatka peninsula and in the valley of the Kamchatka river. There they are also referred to as Kamchadals. A great number of Itelmens also reside today in the larger cities of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski and Elizovo.

Fishing, hunting an gathering have long been the main economic activities of this people. Their traditional life is well documented in the detailed descriptions of German-Baltic scientists who traveled through Kamchatka in the 18th and 19th centuries. Valuable also are the impressive watercolors by Friedrich Heinrich von Kittlitz. A more recent study records the economic resources available to the Itelmens living on the west coast of Kamchatka with regard to their future sustainable development.

In the wake of Perestroika, a cultural revival took place among many Itelmens. Former rituals and worldviews have been revived and staged for the Alkhalalalai festival, which is celebrated every fall. Its main theme is reconciliation with nature. During this festival, traditional dances are performed by the ensemble El'vel'. Cultural activities like these received high praise when they were taken on tours in Germany, where children's drawings and carvings by Itelmen artists were shown at various exhibitions. Since the beginning of the 1990s, vigorous efforts have been directed at the preservation of the endangered Itelmen language.

Children's drawings by Kamchadals

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Children's drawings by Itelmens

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Remembrances of fishing near Sedanka

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The Alkhalalalai festival

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Dances by the ensemble El'vel' in Kovran

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The ensemble El'vel' in Germany

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Itelmen song contest at the Alkhalalalai festival in Kovran


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Aleksandr Pritchin – an Itelmen artist at work


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Itelmen themes
as reflected in the carvings of Aleksandr
Pritchin


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