Introduction / History Like most of the other peoples of Siberia, the Yukagirs were hunters who traded furs. They had bi-yearly hunting expeditions which they timed for when reindeer migrated across local rivers. They used bones and rocks for their arrow heads. In the 1400s they began to have access to metal which improved their hunting tools. Because of their belief in the spirit world, they would not kill more game than they needed.
The Russians invaded their land in the 1700s and demanded furs as tribute. Since the Yukagir people were depended on the land, they suffered from frequent famines. The Russians made the situation far worse by using up the local resources. For example, their dogs ate up fish that Yukagir people needed. The local ecology could not support these changes.
Where are they located? They are the remnants of a population who for many years have inhabited the tundra and taiga zones of Arctic Siberia. Over the centuries they have braved severe weather and survived. Most of them still live in the northeastern part of Russia's Siberia.
What are their lives like? The Yukagir family groups are usually organized into clans, and an able adult male leads each clan. At one time they were matriarchal, with the line of descent coming from the mother's family line. It is unclear if this is still the case. At one time there were either 12 or 13 Yukagir tribes. Now there are only three.
Today there is some effort to keep their language alive; Yukagirs maintain their greetings and certain vocabulary for festivals. As of 1990, their children were taught their traditional language in school. For the most part, they use the Russian language, especially with outsiders.
What are their beliefs? In the 18th century many Yukagir people became Orthodox Christians; however, they still held onto traditional shamanistic beliefs. Some are probably secular. A small number are now Russian Orthodox, and a much smaller number are Evangelical.
What are their needs? The Yukagir people need to find ways to earn a prosperous living in the 21st century. Their homeland will not allow many of them to live by hunting, etc. In such situations, many people wind up working as day laborers, and not earning enough money.
Prayer Points Pray for believers to go as Christ's ambassadors to the Yukagir people.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Yukagir people teachable and understanding hearts.
Pray for a strong movement of the Holy Spirit to bring entire Yukagir families into a rich experience of God's blessing.
Pray for Yukagir families to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to seek forgiveness, and to understand the adequacy of Christ's work on the cross.