The Indigenous People of Kamchatka, Russia: Background information when reading Disappearing Earth

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Disappearing Earth

by Julia Phillips

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips X
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
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  • Published:
    May 2019, 272 pages

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Jamie Chornoby
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The Indigenous People of Kamchatka, Russia

This article relates to Disappearing Earth

Valley of the Geysers in the Kamchatka PeninsulaThe remote Russian peninsula of Kamchatka, where Julia Phillips' debut novel Disappearing Earth takes place, is very isolated. It is located on the far east side of Russia, surrounded by the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean, riddled by volcanic activity from the Pacific tectonic plate, part of Earth's "Ring of Fire." While the United Nations estimates that, as of 2019, Indigenous people (also known as Aboriginals, First Peoples or Natives) comprise 5% of the global population, in Kamchatka, that number is 10%. Some of the Native groups of this region include the Koryaks, Alyutor, Chukchi, Kamchadal, Itelmens, Aleut and Even.

Each group is nuanced and distinct. For instance, the Evens—of whom there are nearly 2,500 on Kamchatka today—are relative newcomers to the peninsula. In the 17th century, pursuing new hunting grounds, a faction of the Even wandered into the desolate regions of Kamchatka, where Koryak and Chukchi lived nomadically. This split ...

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