Kristina Cheremkina, project ambassador
The modern world brings together the traditions of different communities,
which honor their history. Each nation has its own national hero – а
composite character who embodies their most important qualities and
characteristics. Some national heroes are known throughout the world. For
example, Pocahontas and Moana long ago introduced people to their
nations and won over people’s hearts.
The communities in Russia’s Far North live in the harshest climatic
conditions. They are known for their endurance, spiritual strength and valor,
and their history is rich with heroic characters.
Yakut Even community at the spring awakening festival ‘Ayanna Myalanni’
The Kyndykan project is a true story about a little Even girl who was found by
Yakut hunters 200 years ago near the Verkhoyansk Mountains (Yakutia) in an
ancestral settlement that had been completely wiped out by smallpox. The
author and mastermind of the project is Margarita Popova, the
seventh-generation great granddaughter of Kyndykan.
“Kyndykan is the name of my seventh-generation great grandmother. When she
was little, she was found by hunters in a settlement that had been completely
wiped out by smallpox and then she was taken to the Kobyaysky District in
Yakutia. How she survived alone remains an enigma and a mystery. Working on
An Even folk saying states: “No deer – No Even”
An Evenki from the village of Iengra. Photo project
‘In Search of Kyndykan’ by Yakut photographer
А scene from the Kyndykan video shoot. The Even costume
was created by Anna Khabarovskaya, one of the last remaining
practitioners of the dying folklore tradition ‘nimkan’.
this project, I have started to delve deeper into the history of the indigenous
minorities, meeting and talking with my relatives who are also descendants of
Kyndykan, and sharing information. The most important thing is that this story is
not fictional, but real. This project has already become the main purpose and
dream of my life.”
Kyndykan is a symbol of the endurance, spiritual strength and unique value of
the indigenous peoples of the Far North. Her story is the prototype of a
character who has every chance of becoming a national symbol, a new
Pocahontas or Moana.
The project is designed to tell the world about the indigenous peoples living in
the North, to draw the international community’s attention to the problem of the
disappearance of their traditional way of life, and to help popularize their
languages and preserve their culture and age-old traditions for future
In September, the project’s founder unveiled a print version of the Kyndykan
story authored by the young writer Lidiya Tarasova. Ethnographers, linguists,
and practitioners of the Even language and culture were all involved in creating
the tale, which is being published in two languages - Russian and Even.
The story of the brave little girl has featured in
a song by Yakut performer KitJah, the video
of which was filmed in a remote
deer-breeding camp in Eveno-Bytantay
District. The song has become an absolute hit
in recent months, while the video continues
to attract hundreds of thousands of views.
Bappagay has created
a Kyndykan doll
dressed in a traditional
Support for the
A young Evenki woman from Oymyakon.
Photo project ‘In Search of Kyndykan’ Kyndykan project has
by Yakut photographer Sergey Sharin. been provided by
ALROSA, the world’s largest diamond mining
company, which has 90% of its production assets located in Yakutia. The
company provides ongoing support to the indigenous peoples in Yakutia by
helping to preserve historical values and revive cultural traditions, taking part in
organizing ethnic festivals, supporting ancestral deer-herding and fishing
settlements, training local communities in various specialties and creating jobs,
and providing everything required for everyday life.
The next step in the Kyndykan project will be the creation of a short animation
film which will introduce the world to the character of Kyndykan. In addition,
the first dedicated Kyndykan foundation is being set up. The foundation will
accumulate the dividends and use them to preserve the languages, culture and
traditional way of life of the indigenous peoples of the North, and to support
Yakutia’s creative potential.
OTHER PLANS OF THE PROJECT
- Murals on the topic of Northern folklore using innovative paint with a
photocatalytic effect capable of purifying air;
- An educational expedition to a deer-breeding camp with masterclasses
and training courses for children and young people of the indigenous