Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Source: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights - Russian Federation


Native Name

Total Speakers

Usage By Country

Khabarovsk (the lower reaches of Amur) and Sakhalin (northern part of the island and along the river of Tym)., Russian Federation


Nivkhs (nivakh, nivukh, nivkhgu, nigvngun, earlier called galyaks) is the small people which resides in Khabarovsk (the lower reaches of Amur) and Sakhalin (northern part of the island and along the river of Tym). They are related to the Central Asian type of the North Asian race of the large Mongoloid race. Together with Chukchi, Koryaks and other Northeast peoples they are a part of poleoasians. Nivkhs are the direct descendants of the ancient populace of Sakhalin and the lower reaches of Amur. Their original name Nivkh means “a man”, and Nivkhgu means “people”. They speak isolated Nivkh language. There is a hypothesis of John Grinberg whereby the Nivkh language is a part of Eurasian language family. Russian is also widespread. For the last century the number of Nivkhs has been rather stable: in 1897 there were 4,500 persons, and in 2002 – 5,200. However, the percentage of native speakers has decreased from 100% to 23,3% for the same period of time, and today only about 1000 people know the Nivkh language. The main sectors of Nivkhs economy are fishing and the sea hunting. Land hunting and gathering have auxiliary value. Dog-breeding has got wide developing. Currently, only a part of Nivkhs is working in the traditional branches of the economy. Most people, especially young people, work in the industry, in different organizations and institutions. All Nivkh families in the countryside engage in domestic livestock and horticulture. Nivkhs’ attempts to become Orthodox were unsuccessful, animism remained the foundation of religious ethnos ideology, accompanied by shaman rituals. From the middle of the 19th century, Nivkhs have started building winter houses chadriv. It’s a rectangular ground house of frame-pole construction built by groove technique with sloping gable roof. The summer house is built on stilts with a gable roof covered with birch bark. Nivkhs are the classic ichthyophagists. Their main food is crude, boiled and jerked fish.

Received 2/3/2012
Posted 2/4/2012
Checked 2/3/2012