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Reindeer Herder's Day

  • Published in InFocus

Olenek hosted a national Evenk holiday - Reindeer Herder’s Day. This is a spring holiday praising the national traditions and customs, culture, history and spiritual values of the people.

The highlight of the annual event was the participation of the Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation to the Far Eastern District Yury Trutnev, as well as Il Darkhan of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Aisen Nikolaev, Aleksei Dyachkovsky, Deputy Director General of ALROSA, Pavel Marinychev, Director General of Almazy Anabara, and other guests of honor, who congratulated the reindeer herders, their families and all Olenek residents on the holiday. In addition to these parade participants, graduates of different years took part in the march in connection with the anniversary of the Olenek Secondary School. Guests from Yakutsk, Moscow, Kazan, Mirny, Udachny and Saskylakh took part in the opening ceremony of the reindeer herders festival.

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The dazzling sun of March, white sparkling snow and endless blue sky make the holiday the most memorable for the whole year. In Yakutia, only the reindeer herders' holiday can cause such an emotional uplift in the early spring. This is the most joyous holiday of spring and life. After a long and hard winter comes the long-awaited spring for the peoples of the North.

The event began with the traditional parade of reindeer herders, herding dynasties and labor collectives of the municipality settlement. This year, the holiday coincided with the 85th anniversary of the Olenek Secondary School, so more people than usual gathered for the festivities. This is the only school in the village, so it is alma mater to almost all Olenek residents. The festive occasion events took place on the Olenek River.

It should be noted that the annual Reindeer Herder Day differs from other holidays by the eventful program, the large scale participation, the large number of concert programs, competitions and contests. ALROSA, which actively participates in life of the district, takes part in the events.

The national round dance Yokharyo, reindeer races, sports competitions, Evenki football and many other spectacular competitions and contests pleased everyone who participated in the festival. The most important traditional type of competition for which most of the guests gather, is reindeer races. The unusually warm weather and a clear sunny day contributed to the success of the celebration.

Representatives of the Udachny Mining and Processing Division came to the feast with gifts, as always. They held a lottery with such prizes as TVs and other necessary equipment for everyday life. And the reindeer breeder Egor Ivanov became the winner of the main prize from the ALROSA Company in the amount of 1 million rubles. It was he who won the 10 km race on a reindeer sleigh. The winners of other distances were awarded snowmobiles. The Company awarded the same prize last year. Such a big prize was never awarded in history of reindeer racing before, not only in our republic, but throughout Russia.

Oktyabrina Ivanova, Director of the ‘Zhilindinsky’ Municipal Unitary Enterprise:

- This is a long-awaited holiday. In the spring families are reunited, our women meet their husbands, it's time for reunion of all generations of the Yakuts. Despite our business, which is rooted in ancient times, we are quite modern people, we want to live in civilization. We are very pleased when the locals, by participating in competitions, win such modern technology as a snowmobile. We express our special gratitude to the ALROSA Company and our chiefs from the Udachny Division, representatives of which are regular guests at our holiday.

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The holiday was fun. Everyone could go into the tent chum, warm up and taste the local dishes. In the evening, the ‘Ilkit’ Ethnocultural Center hosted an official part of the event and a special concert program.

ALROSA and Olenek district

A delegation from the Udachny Mining and Processing Division was also invited to the festival. The director-coordinator of the Company's enterprises in Udachny wished better life full of wealth and abundance, and also thanked for cooperation. It was in this area in October last year that a new diamond deposit, Verkhne-Munskoye (Upper Muna), was launched.

To this day there is something to remember about the cooperation between the Company and the district. For example, the first large diamond from the Upper Muna is named after the Olenek district of Yakutia. It happened in November last year. This was connected with the history of the district, which entered the history of the development of natural resources of Yakutia. This was noted by the ALROSA CEO, Sergey Ivanov:

  • Making a decision on naming a crystal, we wanted, first of all, to note the merits of the local population, who provided invaluable assistance to geologists in the discovery of the Verkhne-Munskoye deposit in the 1950s. And, of course, to pay tribute to the Yakut land and the Olenek district, which never cease to amaze us with their wealth.
Last year, ALROSA and the Olenek district signed a cooperation agreement. The Company for five years will allocate 100 million rubles a year for various social programs. Payments will amount to half a billion. In their speech, the senior staff of ALROSA thanked the residents of the district:

“Within the framework of the agreement, financing of the ulus for five years is estimated at 100 million rubles. This is just a small thanks from diamond miners for the contribution made by the inhabitants of the Olenek district since the beginning of the deposits search for the diamond-mining industry of our country. The search for diamonds was conducted with the help of Olenek reindeer-team drivers. Diamonds were found, and today they give a very good profit for the country, dividends for the municipal districts of the republic, which are shareholders of the Company.”

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Head of Olenek district Aleksandr Ivanov:

- The discovery of the Upper Muna for us, residents of the Olenek district, and in general for residents of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is of great importance.

On behalf of the residents of the district, I want to express my deep gratitude to the head of Yakutia, Aisen Sergeyevich Nikolaev, for his support and initiative in signing an agreement between ALROSA and the Olenek district, General Director of ALROSA Sergey Ivanov, Deputy General Director Aleksei Filippovsky, Igor Sobolev, Vladimir Kozlov and a great friend of the ulus, director of the Udachny Mining and Processing Division, Aleksandr Makhrachev, who oversees all work at Upper Muna. The population is pleased with the fact that the management of the ALROSA Company takes into account the peculiarities of the small-numbered indigenous peoples of the North, participates in all our events, including national holidays. Today we are no longer neighbors with the ALROSA Company, as it was before, we live in the same house, because for the Evenk the house is all tundra and taiga.

In addition to cash payments, there is the second part of the program, which establishes the obligations of the parties to interact. On the part of ALROSA, this is training the local population in professions that are in demand at the enterprise, providing employment jobs. In addition, ALROSA offered to maintain facilities at the Upper Muna deposit, and this work is carried out by the ‘Olenek-Sitim’ Municipal Autonomous Institution of the Olenek district. Residents of the district are already working at the Verkhne-Munskoye field on a rotational basis.

History of the holiday

The history of the Reindeer Herder’s Day dates back to the 30s of the last century - then, one can say, the tundra people began to officially celebrate their holiday. And the holding of holidays from the end of February until the end of April is explained quite objectively - this is the most convenient time between the movement of huge reindeer herds from south to north. This is such a long-standing historically and climatically conditioned tradition.

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Fifteen years ago, the tradition of celebrating the Reindeer Breeder’s Day, as the holiday for the whole Olenek district, was born. The annual celebration is a vivid example of the preservation and continuation of the national traditions and customs, cultural, historical and spiritual values of the people.