Chukchi, or chukchee (Russian: чукчи (plural), chukcha, чукча (singular)) are an indigenous people inhabiting the northeasternmost portion of the Russian Federation on the shores of the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea. They speak the Chukchi language.
The majority of Chukchi reside within the Chukotka Autonomous Region (Russian okrug), but some also reside in the neighboring Sakha Republic to the west, Magadan Province to the southwest, and Koryak Autonomous Region to the south. Several Chukchi also reside in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other parts of Russia, as well as in Europe and North America. The total number of Chukchi in the world is a bit over 15,000.
The Chukchi are traditionally divided into the Maritime Chukchi, who had settled homes on the coast and lived primarily from sea mammal hunting, and the Reindeer Chukchi, who nomadised in the inland tundra region with their herds of reindeer. Beginning in the 1920s, the Soviets organized the economic activities of both coastal and inland Chukchi and eventually established 28 collectively run, state_owned enterprises. All of these were based on reindeer herding, with the addition of sea mammal hunting in the coastal areas. Chukchi were educated in Soviet schools and today are almost 100% literate and fluent in the Russian language. Only a portion of them today work directly in reindeer herding or sea mammal hunting. Several Chukchi have university degrees and are poets and writers, or politicians, or teachers, or doctors.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the state-run farms were reorganized and nominally privatized. This process was ultimately destructive to the village-based economy in Chukotka, and the region has still not fully recovered. Many rural Chukchi, as well as Russians in Chukotkas villages, have survived in recent years only with the help of direct humanitarian aid.
- Anna Kerttula, 2000, Antler on the Sea (Cornell University Press)
- Waldemar Bogoras, 1909, The Chukchee (Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History)