The Last Nivkh Chieftain

The Nivkh are the indigenous people of Sakhalin Island in the Russian North. Since their lands were discovered by explorers from the mainland, they have undergone assimilation by the Japanese and persecution by the Soviet government. They were banned from practising their culture and their language was largely forgotten. Since the Nivkh language didn’t have a written form, it was an almost impossible task to preserve it in the reality faced by the Nivkh after being discovered by the outside world. Many Nivkh legends, beliefs and traditions were lost. 

However, current Nivkh chieftain, Vladimir Sangi, believes it is possible to restore the Nivkh language and culture. He co-authored the alphabet of the Nivkh language which has hugely contributed to its preservation. Still, there is a long way to go for the Nivkh people, as very few of them today can speak their native tongue.

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