Snowchange Oral History: History of Turvaurgin

Production cooperative nomadic kin-based obshchina Turvaurgin
History and present day

Editors: V. G. Bekkerov, A. S. Brusenina, and G. V. Iaglovskaia (members of Turvaurgin); V. N. Tyrylgina, director of the Tavrat museum of local history; Poems by M. S. Kurilov, the head of the sixth brigade, poet and song writer.

In shining stars all beauty is contained
Tundra, you are my fate
Never mind the cold, my love for you will keep me warm

"The truth about our life is revealed when we are gone. If there was no real love and care for people, the world will forget you."
N. I. Tavrat.

The collectivization of agricultural production began in the first years of the Soviet state. The process of collectivization took place in Nizhniaia Kolyma as well.

At first, simple cooperatives for joint separation of reindeer, fishing, and hunting were organized in our district. At that time the people of the tundra were nomads; they did not have permanent place to live. Beginning in 1933, the collectivization in the district started to involve more people. There were six tovarishchestvos, a form of collective enterprise, including "Kirgaurgin" which was transformed into the kolkhoz, or collective-owned farm, of Turvaurgin.

From 1932-1933, Narkozem (the commissariat of land) of Yakutia organized a land-surveying expedition lead by G.A. Razumov. The expedition helped to develop collective farms in the area. The results of the expedition work were reported to and approved by the executive committee of the district Soviet, July 16 1933. January 1, 1933 the total number of reindeer owned by tovarishchestvos in the district amounted to 5,291.

Gavril Ivanovich Mokhnatkin was the first head of the executive committee of Nizhnekolymskii district (1931-1933). In 1933, he became a director of the Dalstroi reindeer herding trust.

In 1931, the kolkhoz consisted of 31 households (112 people). The main specialization of the kolkhoz was fur. There were only 2,201 reindeer in the kolkhoz, including 975 females for breeding. Resources of the kolkhoz were very limited.

According to the decision of the district Soviet, passed on April 13, 1940, all tovarishchestvos, including Turvaurgin, were transformed into artels Association formed for cooperative enterprises, such as fishing, mining, and commerce . The Protoka area at Stadukhino was the nominal center of the kolkhoz even though there was not a single building there. This place is somewhere near the present-day slaughterhouse. The republic and district authorities were concerned with the issue of settling down nomadic people. On March 21, the executive committee of the district Soviet passed a decision to find suitable places for permanent settlements or centers for the nomadic members of the kolkhozes Sutania-Uderan, Olenevod (Reindeer Herder), and Turvaurgin.

According to the decision of the executive committee of the district Soviet passed on April 13, 1940, the area Dresvianoe was to become a place of permanent settlement for the members of the Turvaurgin kolkhoz. In August 13 of the same year, the decision was canceled; it was decided that the members of the Turvaurgin kolkhoz will settle in the village of Kolymskoe even though Kolymaskoe was already the centre for another kolkhoz, Krasnaia Zvezda (Red Star). Thus, the village of Kolymskoe became the center for two kolkhozes.

In 1941 began the construction of houses for the members of the Turvaurgin kolkhoz. Local timber from the upper reaches of Kolyma river was used to build standard one-family houses. At first, metal barrels converted into ovens were used to heat the houses, later the Turvaurgin kolkhoz launched brick production in Konzaboi (10,000 bricks a year) and brick ovens were built. Brick ovens needed less wood and houses became warmer. The first builder of houses for the members of Turvaurgin was Prokopii Spiridonovich Diachkov, a builder from Pokhodsk. Later other builders arrived: Ivan Kazarin (Russian newcomer); P. P. Diachkov, also from Pokhodsk; and his friend N. N. Berezkin, from Nizhnekolymsk.

Organization chartArtels 1931-1961

At first, not all people were eager to move into wooden houses, some even refused to move and erected their yarangas, or mobile tents, next to the houses. It took a lots of effort to explain them that living in wooden houses had more benefits than living in a yaranga. Later the people of the tundra began to move to wooden houses more eagerly.

In spite of the difficulties of the Great Patriotic War, the construction of houses was not postponed. The housing shortage forced several families to live in one house.

The district tried to increase the number of reindeer. The Turvaurgin kolkhoz increased the number of reindeer to 13,406 by the beginning of 1941 (including 4,996 of vazhenkas (a two-year old female reindeer) and syritsas (a one-year old female reindeer).

Camp photoPhotograph of a camp in Turvaurgin. Photo credit: © Tero Mustonen, Snowchange Cooperative.

Moreover, kolkhozes expanded fur hunting and fishing. In 1940 Turvaurgin produced 571 skins of white polar fox, 193 skins of ermine, six skins of wolf, 56.5 tons of reindeer meat. This year the kolkhoz caught 65.4 tons of fish, including 6.4 tons of nelma, 22.2. tons of riapushka, 34.5 tons of chir, muksun, and peliad, 2.3 tons of pike and burbot (nalim).

At the end of the 1930s until 1949, the chairperson of the Olenevod kolkhoz was I.N. Antipin. He was one of the first people in the district to receive the Order of the Red Banner of Labour.

From 1935 to 1945 the chairperson of the Krasnaia Zvezda kolkhoz was Egor Gerasimovich Tarasov.

The kolkhoz Turvaurgin has been expanding every year and in 1940 its gross income was 8,666 thousand roubles.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, the members of the kolkhoz were working hard as all Soviet people fulfilling the slogan "All for the front, all for the victory over enemies." Everybody tried to help the army by buying state military bonds, paying military taxes on time, sending warm clothing to the Red Army, and of course, by working hard with high labour productivity.

In the Republican Socialist emulation in the third quarter of 1943, our district was rewarded the transient Red Banner of the Soviet of People's Deputies and of the Oblast party committee of the Yakutskaia ASSR; the district was listed on the Republic's Honour Board.

In October 1943, the executive committee of the district Soviet recommended the following people for an award to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Yakutskaia ASSR: I. N. Antipin, chairperson of the kolkhoz, for the fulfillment of the plan assignment for the number of reindeer (141 percent) and the assignment for the survival of tugut, or reindeer calves (92.2 percent); V. P. Iaglovskii, head of the reindeer farm Number 1, for fulfilling the plan at 142 percent, and the plan of reindeer calves reproduction at 82% and managing to keep the survival rate of the calves at 98 percent; P. T. Trifonov, reindeer herder.

Based on the results of the year 1943, Turvaurgin was awarded the transient Red Banner of the District for the fulfillment of the reindeer plan assignment (132 percent), horse assignment at 113 percent, cattle assignment at 108 percent, fur assignment at 139 percent and fishing assignment at 100 percent. The banner was rewarded by the decision of the executive committee of the district Soviet and the district Party committee.

During the war, the workers of Khalarchinskii and Olerinskii nomadic Soviets transferred 840,000 rubles to support the army. It was a large sum of money.

On June 9, 1941, the members of the kolkhoz sent a telegram to the Supreme Commander Stalin. The telegram read "...inspired by your call and by victories of the Red Army, we, the members of the united kolkhoz family collected and transferred to the Gosbank, or the state bank of the Soviet Union, the sum of 75,510 rubles for tank building. We ask you to give an order that our money be used to build a tank named Turvaurginets (somebody from Turvaurgin). Let this tank bring destruction to fascist beasts. We will work even harder to contribute to the growing strength of our Soviet Union." The telegram was signed by the chairperson of the kolkhoz, I. N. Antipin, the secretary of the Party organisation, N. T. Trifonov, and the accountant G. A. Krivoshapkin. The members of the kolkhoz received an official acknowledgment from the Supreme Commander Stalin for the money they had collected for the second tank column. G. A. Krivoshapkin, who had been working previously as an agent of the district financial department at the Khalarchinskii nomadic Soviet, was awarded a Certificate of Merits by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Yakutskaia ASSR for his active participation in collecting money for the Defense of Motherland Fund.

During the war, the members of the kolkhoz caught 366.9 tons of fish, most of which was sent to the front, and supplied the state with the following furs: white polar fox 3,419; squirrel 2,312; ermine 14,085; red fox 822; and hare 5,805. By the end of 1940, the kolkhoz had 13,406 reindeer, and by the end of 1945 the number of reindeer had grown up to 14,165. In 1940, the kolkhoz butchered reindeer for the first time and handed over 750 butchered reindeer to the RTK Kolymtorg (trade agency). During the war, live reindeer were handed over to Kolymsnab. For that purpose they were herded to the town of Srednekolymsk.

The members of the kolkhoz Krasnaia Zvezda suggested a merge with the kolkhoz Turvaurgin. The idea was discussed but no decision was reached. Then the members of the kolkhoz sent a merge request to the Soviet of Ministers of the Yakutskaia ASSR.

In 1946, the kolkhoz bought herding dogs for the first time. It made reindeer herding easier. Later, herding dogs were purchased by other kolkhozes as well. In the north the dogs were the main means of transport. Rational use of grazing land was one of the main priorities in reindeer herding.

After the war, the village of Kolymskoe hosted annual district meetings of reindeer herders and hunters. Representatives of the kolkhoz Sutania-Uderan and Olenevod arrived to the meetings by dog sledges, later the airplane Li-2 was used. These meetings were well organized. They took two days. The official part took place on the first day; at the end of the general session an address of the meeting participants to all reindeer herders of the district was passed. The second day was dedicated to sports events and to a large concert of khudozhestvennaia samodeiatelnost, or amateur performances, mainly from the district's main settlement. The main favorites in reindeer races were the heads of farms: D. I. Volkov and V. P. Iaglovskii from Turvaurgin; A. V. Tataev from Sutania-Uderan; and Kh. K. Kurilov from the Olenevod kolkhoz.

Reindeer herding was growing and improving each year. In 1950 there were 15,971 reindeer, including 5,041 females for breeding. The kolkhoz accounted for 46.6 percent of all reindeer in the district. There were also 30 livestock animals in the kolkhoz: 13 cows, and 27 horses, including 10 mares. Special herds for reproduction were created. They were supervised by the most experienced herders who managed to get good results in reproduction and in the survival rates of the offspring.

In 1952, A. A. Slonimskii, a veterinary specialist in the kolkhoz, became the chairperson of the kolkhoz. The same year Kh. S. Mochegusov was appointed the accountant of the kolkhoz by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Yakutskaia ASSR. He held this position until the Nizhnekolymskii sovkhoz was organised. Later he was the accountant of the Kolymskoe branch of the sovkhoz, or state-owned farm, until his retirement.

The merging of kolkhozes triggered a growth of meat, fish, and fur production.

On March 11, 1954, Vasilii Nikolaevich Iaglovskii was elected the vice-chairperson of the kolkhoz.

March 4, 1955, an application of the members of the kolkhoz Novaia Zhizn (New Life) for merging with the kolkhoz Turvaurgin was discussed among other issues. N. S . Vinokurov, chairperson of Novaia Zhizn, gave a presentation. The meeting passed a resolution to accept the application of Novaia Zhizn and to approve the decision of the executive committee of the district Soviet and the district Party committee to merge kolkhozes. This resolution, however, was never implemented. It is unclear why, but kolkhozes were not merged. The meeting approved the request of V. N. Iaglovskii to transfer him to the kolkhoz Imeni Stalina (Of the Name of Stalin). A. P. Novgorodov, head of the selkhozupravlenie, or agricultural controlling department, was elected as the chairperson of the kolkhoz; Nikolai Ivanovich Tavrat became the vice-chairperson; and D. N. Vinokurov became the chairperson of the revision commission.

In 1955, the kolkhoz began blue polar fox farming, and in 1960 mink farming was launched. At first, the fur farm was situated in a place called Nizhnie Kholmy. It was an inconvenient arrangement and later the farm was transferred to the village of Kolymskoe. All fur farms of the sovkhoz were closed down as unprofitable.

V. G. Vinokurova, a veterinary specialist, was the head of the fur farm for a long period of time.

A. N. Oleinikova, a veterinary specialist and specialist in fur farming, played an important role in fur farming. Thanks to their efforts, blue polar foxes produced 6.5 offspring on average annually, and minks produced 3.5 offspring.

Since 1951, the kolkhoz has been purchasing new machinery. In 1951, it purchased a motor boat, motors for boats (stationary, with three speeds), and a diesel power station. In 1956 it bought a sawing machine for wood boards, a tractor, and later it also purchased a car. All this machinery helped increase labour productivity. Mikhail Petrovich Robbek and Ivan Egorovich Volkov were the first tractor operators.

The leaders among the heads of reindeer herders brigades were I. N. Nikulin, I. R. Telia, I. A. Neustroev, A. G. Tymkil, brothers I. Ia. Govorulin and M. Ia. Govorulin, V. P. Iaglovskii; reindeer herders N. G. Peliaurgin, N. V. Sleptsov, A. V. Kaulia, bothers P. I. Kaurgin, I. I. Kaurgin, V. I. Kaurgin, and D. I. Kaurgin, along with many other workers who showed good annual results.

The best hunters and fishermen were I. A. Okoneshnikov, N. P. Okoneshnikov, D. D. Kondakov, G. F. Sivtsev, I. E. Sivtsev, G. M. Kotelnikov, I. G. Kondakov, D. R. Atlasov, N. A. Begunov, S. P. Robbek, E. G. Tarasov, E. P. Cherepov, A. Banderov, I. M. Antipin, and many others.

In 1955, Novgorodov took ill and left his office as the chairperson of the kolkhoz. N. I. Tavrat was elected as the chairperson, and D. N. Vinokurov became the vice-chairperson.

Anatolii Andreevich Slonimskii deserves to be remembered with gratitude. He came as a young specialist to the district in 1939 and worked here in different offices until the last days of his life, mainly in the kolkhoz Turvaurgin and in the sovkhoz Nizhnekolymskii. He crossed the tundra through and through. His visits were always welcomed. Apart from the Russian and Belorussian languages, the latter of which was his native language), he spoke the Chukchi and Yakut languages fluently.

On December 30, 1960, the executive committee of the district Soviet of the Deputies of Workers discussed the report of a special commission that was set to prepare the closure of the kolkhoz Turvaurgin due to the organisation of the sovkhoz Nizhnekolymskii. The executive committee approved the transfer of 1,036,436 hectares of land and other assets of Turvaurgin, estimated at 511,000 rubles.

In January 1961, three kolkhozes (Imeni V. I. Lenina, Imeni I. V. Stalina, and Turvaurgin) were transformed into the Nizhnekolymskii sovkhoz; it became a large sovkhoz in the North of Yakutia. Nikolai Ivanovich Tavrat was appointed as its first director.

Nikolai Vasilievich Iaglovskii—the son of V. P. Iaglovskii, who was a prince of Yukaghir clan—was awarded for his work the supreme award of the USSR, the Order of Lenin. Upon his graduation from the Yakutsk Agricultural College, he worked as a veterinary assistant. Then he replaced his father as the head of the seventh brigade in the Nizhnekolymskii sovkhoz. With the permission of RK VLKSM, he transformed the seventh brigade into a brigade of the komsomol, the Communist Union of Youth. He was the head of the brigade for several years; it was always among the best brigades in the Republic.

Afanasii Pavlovich Tarabukin was born in the Tattinskii district of Yakutia. Thanks to his persistent work and his support of reindeer herders, he managed to grow from a veterinary assistant to the position of a chief veterinary specialist. The heads of brigades respected and supported him. During his visits to the village he met with reindeer herders, he knew all their problems and their future plans. In the 1990s—a time of severe decline—he was working in the field, and he dedicated his life to reindeer herding. He worked in this sector from 1983 to 2006.

In March 1993, the elders were troubled with the severe decline in the number of reindeer, a reduction of 1,000 to 1,500 animals. In response to their requests, Grigorii Ivanovich Velvin was elected as the head of the community. At that time the number of reindeer was 5,880.

The following people contributed a lot to the survival of the commune: N. V. Iaglovskii, A. P. Tarabukin, O. V. Romanovskaia, I. I. Khodialo, V. A. Romanovskii, V. V. Pankratev, I. E. Berezhnov, and A. S. Protopopov; machine operators V. N. Sleptsov, V. E. Kotelnikov, and N. A. Syrovatskii; reindeer herders and elders M. Laptander, I. Vladimirov, S. I. Sleptsov, N. E. Volkov, A. N. Kemlil, V. I. Khodialo, P. I. Kaurgin, and A. Ia. Kaurgin, A. N. Diachkov and M. I. Diachkov, i. M. Velvin and A. P. Velvin, D. N. Kaurgin and O. I. Kaurgin; heads of brigades Dmitrii Iaglovskii, Aleksei Khodialo, Spiridon Volkov, Matvei Ottokh, Ilia Volkov, and Vladimir Kaurgin. Fishermen deserve a separate mention for their selfless work in hard times. Their fish were a source of money for the community. These fishermen have been over-fulfilling their fish assignments: instead of the assigned 50 tons, they caught 110 tons. Among those fishermen were Mikhail Antipin, Andrei Cherepov, Evgenii Nikulin, Vasilii Robbek, Valerii Sleptsov, Aleksandr Keulin, Viktor Sivtsev, Viktor Babichev, Spiridon Govorulin, Ivan Tynaurgin, Aleksei Sergeevich Protopopov and his sons, and many others. By 2003 the number of reindeer in the community was 8,500. Nowadays, G. I. Velvin has this to say about the reindeer and hunters, "They are worthy of their ancestors! We should be grateful to them!"

Some residents of Khalarchinskii nasleg The Russian word for 'municipality' elected to high state offices at federal and Republican levels. For example, Innokentii Iakovlevich Gorulin, reindeer herder, was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of the VIII call (1970), Nikolai Ivanovich Tavrat was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR of the V call and a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Yakutskaia ASSR of the II-VIII calls (1947-1975). The following people were elected as deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the Yakutskaia ASSR: Nikolai Ivanovich Melgeivach, chairperson of the executive committee of the Khalarchinskii nomadic Soviet, the I call (1938); Maria Nikolaevna Ottoro, reindeer herder, the VI call (1963); Nadezhda Pavlovna Gorulina, reindeer herder, the VII call (1966); Olga Ivanovna Kaurgina, reindeer herder, the X-XI calls (1980, 1985), Grigorii Ivanovich Velvin, vice-chairperson of the district Soviet, the XII call (1990).

Many people were elected as deputies of the district and the Khalarchinskii rural Soviets and as members of the district Party committee.

According to the data of 1966, the following people received state awards:

  • Vasilii Petrovich Iaglovskii, reindeer herder, received the Order of Lenin (1971)
  • Nikolai Ivanovich Tavrat, head of the executive committee of the district Soviet, was awarded the Order of the October Revolution (1971)
  • The Order of the Red Banner of Labour was given to hunter Serafim Petrovich Robbek (1966)
  • The Order of the Red Banner of Labour was given to reindeer herder Nikolai Afanasevich Iaglovskii (1976)
  • The Order of the Badge of Honour was given to to head of a brigade Nikolai Ivanovich Tavrat (1984)
  • The Order of the Badge of Honour was given to head of a brigade Dmitrii Nikolaevich Begunov (1984)
  • The Order of the Badge of Honour was given to reindeer herder Olga Ivanovna Kaurgina (1986)
  • The Order of the Badge of Honour was given to reindeer herder Akulina Afanasevna Kemlil (1986)
  • The Order of Labour Glory of the 3rd class was awarded to head of a brigade Ivan Rukvatovich Telia (1978)
  • The Order of Labour Glory of the 3rd class was awarded to reindeer herder Ilia Nikolaevich Volkov (1986)
  • The Medal for Labour Valour was awarded to Maria Nikolaevna Kolesova, a specialist in fur framing (1971)
  • The Medal for Labour Valour was awarded to head of a brigade Nikolai Vasilievich Iaglovskii (1975)
  • The Medal for Labour Valour was awarded to head of a farm Konstantin Innokentevich Vinokurov (1976)
  • The Medal for Distinguished Labour was received by head of a unit Dmitrii Nikolaevich Vinokurov (1966)
  • The Medal for Distinguished Labour was received by reindeer herder Nikolai Makarovich Volkov (1966)
  • The Medal for Distinguished Labour was received by head of a brigade Vasilii Petrovich Iaglovskii (1966)
  • The Medal for Distinguished Labour was received by Egor Andreevich Nutendli, head of a zveno, or subgroup (1981)
  • The Medal for Distinguished Labour was received by reindeer herder Aleksandr Andreevich Keulin (1986).

The honorary title "Distinguished Worker of the National Economy of the YASSR" was given to Nikolai Ivanovich Tavrat, head of the executive committee of the district Soviet (1982); to Innokentii Iakovlevich Gorulin, head of a brigade (1982); to Nikolai Andreevich Diachkov, head of a brigade, (1985); and to Spiridon Dmitrievich Volkov, reindeer herder, (1994).

The title "Distinguished worker of the Agriculture of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia" was given to Andrei Dmitrievich Volkov, reindeer herder (1993); and to Grigorii Ivanovich Velvin, head of the agricultural controlling department, (1996).

The Certificate of Merit of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Yakutskaia ASSR was given to hunter Aleksei Danilovich Banderov (1966); to Petr Egorovich Sivtsev, specialist in fur farming, (1966); and to reindeer herder Dmitrii Stepanovich Melgaivach (1972).

The State Award of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia in Agriculture was given to Egor Andreevich Nutendli, reindeer herder (1996), and the Certificate of Merit of the President of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia was given to Evdokiia Efimovna Diachkova, worker of kin-based communal enterprise (1996).

In 1982 the sovkhoz Nizhnekolymskii reorganised its production by introducing the so-called tsekh, or business unit, management.

In 1985 the sovkhoz began to use kollektivnyi podriada, or a system of collective contracts.

Since 1986 the sovkhoz has used its own checks for internal payments within the sovkhoz. There were 25 business units within the sovkhoz with 305 workers in total. The work of 16 units (tsekh, brigades, and zvenos) is regulated by the collective contracts, they use internal checks for payments between units.

Since 1988 the enterprise has been working as a samofinansirovanie and samookupaemost, a self-financed enterprise that works for profit.

March 14, 1984, APK Sever approved statutes of the agricultural company Edil.

Since January 1, 1990, the Nizhnekolymskii sovkhoz has been transformed into the Nizhnekolymskoe reindeer herding unit within the agricultural company Edil.

In March 1994, the Nizhnekolymskii sovkhoz was reorganized according to the resolution Number 54 (10 March 1994) of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia. The nomadic kin-based community Turvaurgin became an assignee of the sovkhoz, according to the resolution Number 68 (22 March 1994) and according to the communal enterprise's statutes that was approved by the general meeting of representatives of the community. Nikolai Egorovich Volkov was the first head of the kin-based communal enterprise.

In April 1994, Vladimir Prokopevich Rozhin was re-elected the head of the communal enterprise. Thanks to his efforts, the community was able to preserve its reindeer herd that had declined significantly. Vladimir Andreevich Romanovskii is a deputy head, he is in charge of hunting and fishing. Until then, he was a fisherman and a hunter of the Nizhnekolymskii sovkhoz. In April 1996, he became the deputy head of the community in charge of trade.

In June 2003, the nomadic kin-based community Turvaurgin was re-registered as a production cooperative nomadic kin-based community Turvaurgin, according to the resolution Number 33 (9 June 2003) of the Head of the Municipal Unit 'Nizhnekolymskii ulus'.

In February 2004, V. A. Romanovskii was elected head of the nomadic kin-based community. He is still in office.

Production cooperative nomadic kin-based community Turvaurgin
Present day: success and prospects

The production cooperative nomadic kin-based community Turvaurgin specializes in reindeer herding. It has 13,000 reindeer according to the data from January.

The fishermen of the community catch around 100-130 tons of fish.

The dress-making unit produces clothing for reindeer herders and for fishermen, it also sells the clothing to local population.

The cooperative owns two Ural vehicles, three tractors DT75, one UAZ vehicle and two vezdekhods, or all-terrain vehicles.

In 2008, the community launched production of meat for sale; every year around 2,000 reindeer of the khargin breed are butchered at the semi-mechanised slaughterhouse Stadukhino.

The work of employees that are involved in the production (reindeer herders and fishermen) is regulated by the khozraschet scheme: they receive additional income based on the results of their work at the end of each year. In recent years the number of workers has grown from 120 to 160.

In the future, the community plans to launch production of vacuum-packed reindeer meat that would be sorted by the meat type.

In the fishing sector, the community plans to increase the capacity of freezing facilities; it plans to purchase commercial quick freezers to improve meat and fish quality.

"As long as we have reindeer, we will develop as a people. If reindeer disappear, we disappear as well."

Reindeer herding

The deeds of grandfathers and fathers live in the deeds of their children and grandchildren. Thanks to the efforts of the elders, kin-relations are preserved. The traditional knowledge of ancestors, the skills of peoples of the tundra and their commitment to the Northern traditional economic activities are saved from generation to generation.

The Turvaurgin community consists of seven reindeer herding brigades, consisting of 93 reindeer herders and the chumrabotnitsa, the female workers who cook and maintain the yaranga, or tents, that serve as mobile dwellings for herders. Each brigade consists of 12 reindeer herders and female workers who maintain the yaranga. From 2008, Turvaurgin is the leading enterprise in the Nizhnekolymskii district and the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia.

In 2009, Turvaurgin was on the second place among the Northern districts in the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia. The survival rate among adult reindeer is 94.4 per cent; the tugut, or industrial output of offspring, is 80.7 per cent;and the number of female breeders has increased by 4.5 per cent. In 2009, the khozraschet income of the community was 2,117.0 thousand rubles.

In 2009, the following brigades were the best:

  • Brigade Number 8, headed by S.D. Volkov
  • Brigade Number 2, headed by A.A. Khodialo
  • Brigade Number 3, headed by M.N. Ottokh.

The community's equipment has been improving—new snowmobiles, boat motors and all-terrain vehicles are purchased. The community plans to build a corral in the area Nikolaevskoe. A two-flat house and a bania were built in the area Kelikhut.

The state veterinary agency of the Nizhnekolymskii district helps to prevent and cure brucellosis in reindeer.

The community conducts fall and spring corralling with the support of the agricultural controlling agency of the Nizhenkolymskii district, the administration of Nizhenkolymskii district, the municipal unit "Khalarchinskii nasleg," and enterprise sponsors of the community brigades.

The community of Turvaurgin actively promotes Chukchi culture among the younger generation. The community passes the traditions of seasonal herding to children, along with other forms of traditional knowledge. The pupils of the Kolymskaia National school have a course on reindeer herding. As a part of this course they go to reindeer herders' camps for practical training. The training is organized every year.

Brigade Number 1

The dynasty of Iaglovskii has always been working in brigade Number 1. The head of the brigade, Dmitrii Nikolaevich Iaglovskii, a Distinguished Worker of Agriculture of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia (2005), is the eldest brother. His two younger brothers, Nikolai and Vladislav, and their families are working with him. His sister, Daria Nikolaevna Syrovatskaia (a worker of yaranga), became a prize-winner of the State Kladkin award of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia in reindeer herding in 2008. They work well together. Brothers Iaglovskii are real hard workers of the tundra. The sons of Dmitrii, Roman, and Anatolii also work in the brigade.

Brigade Number 2

Brigade Number 2 consists of the Khodialo and Kurilov dynasties. Aleksei Alekseevich Khodialo is the head of the brigade; he is one of three brothers. Vladimir Khodialo and his sister Olga also work in the brigade. All of them study in the Agricultural Academy of Yakutia through a distance education program. The third brother became a veterinary specialist. He graduated in 2009 and now works in the agricultural controlling agency of the Nizhenkolymskii district. In 2007, Aleksei Alekseevich was awarded a golden watch by the President of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia for his work.

Brigade Number 3

The head of this brigade is Matvei Nikolaevich Ottokh, who was awarded the Badge of Hounor "Veteran of Agriculture of Yakutia." His younger brother Aleksandr, his cousin Vladislav Kurilov (a cousin from the mother's side), and their wives Svetlana Ottokh and Liubov Keulina, and his sister Marianna Iaglovskaia and her son Oleg work by his side. The brigade preserves its status of one of the leading brigades. Many young reindeer herders have learned their practical skills in this brigade.

Brigade Number 4

Anamar Anatolievich Sleptsov is the young head of this brigade. His brigade consists of young people. All 12 reindeer herders and workers of the yaranga are between 17 and 25 years old. Nikolai Egorovich Volkov is their mentor. He is a Veteran of Labour, a Veteran of Agriculture of Yakutia, and an Exemplary Worker of Agriculture of Yakutia.

Brigade Number 6

Aleksei Alekseevich Diachkov is the head of this brigade. According to the results of the fall corralling, this brigade achieved a good rate of survival, good reindeer weight, and birth rates. Aleksei Nikolaevich Kemlil is the brigade's mentor. He is a Veteran of Labour. He loves the tundra and his profession. He can be relied upon, he is always ready to provide advice and support in difficult situations.

Brigade Number 7

Makar Semenovich Kurilov, an experienced reindeer herder, is the head of this brigade. The brigade has a good reputation in the Nizhenkolymskii district; its productivity is growing each year.

Brigade Number 8

Spiridon Dmitrievich Volkov is the head of this brigade. He is a Distinguished Worker of National Economy of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia (1994), and an Exemplary Worker of Agriculture of Yakutia. Brigade Number 8 always shows good results in the survival rate of adult reindeer and the survival rate of offspring. His brother Andrei and son Nikolai also work in the brigade. Andrei is an Exemplary Worker of Agriculture of Yakutia, and a Distinguished Worker of National Economy of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia (1993).

Chumrabotnitsa, or workers of the yaranga of Turvaurgin

Being a woman in the tundra means being a mistress of the yaranga. The women have supported and continue to support reindeer herders. Many tasks burden the shoulders of women, including assembling and dismantling of the yaranga, packing the households utensils, cooking, making clothes, and heating the yaranga.

Fishing and hunting

There are five professional hunters and fishermen in the community: M. I. Antipin, S. I. Gorulin, E. I. Nikulin, V. S. Robbek, and A. N. Cherepov. They fulfill all assignments given to them by the community both in furs and in fishing. Annual fishing quota is 120-140 tons of fish.

Dress-making unit

A. I. Tretiakova is the head of the dress-making unit. She was given a Certificate of Merit of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia with a silver badge in 2008. The dress-making unit processes skins and makes traditional fur clothing. The processing and sewing of skins is a very difficult job that requires physical strength.

Map sectionSection of map of the Kolyma Integrated Ecosystem Approach to Conserve Biodiversity and Minimize Habitat Fragmentation in the Russian Arctic (ECORA) Project. View a full version the map. Photo credit: © Tero Mustonen, Snowchange Cooperative


I. E. Berezhnov was working as the head of the warehouse from the time of the sovkhoz until 2002-2003. Earlier he had worked as a prorab, or work superintendent, in the sovkhoz. M. A. Volkov replaced him as the head of the warehouse. Later, the same position was held by I. I. Khodialo, M. V. Iaglovskaia (2004-2005) and V. N. Tyrylgina (May 2005-2008). At that time the community was catching more fish than the planned 160 tons annually. It means that there was much work and responsibility in the warehouse. R. N. Banderov became the head of the warehouse in May 2008. The warehouse also includes freezing chambers and cool storage. R. Iu. Tretiakova is responsible for the product warehouse, as well as warehouses of food and work clothing.

Technical support unit

The first specialists in mechanization in the sovkhoz were I. E. Volkov and M. P. Robbek. S. S. Leonov, S. N. Vinokurov, Z. I. Gazizov, P. O. Miagkov, V. V. Pankratev, A. N. Guliaev, and V. E. Kotelnikov worked in the unit.

Turvaurgin in international projects

The Turvaurgin community has started to work in international partnerships too. These include the on-going partnership with the Snowchange Cooperative in Finland. Another significant project in its final stages is solar electrification of the tundra camps in cooperation with Mr. Bunker Roy and the Barefoot College in India. The ECORA Conservation Project funded by the UNEP has worked with the herders too.