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Rich in Reindeer

The Chukchi are the largest group of indigenous people in the Asian Arctic. About 15,000 Chukchi live on the Chukotka Peninsula in the north-east corner of Siberia - across the Bering Strait from Alaska.

The Russian name "Chukchi" comes from the Chauchu word meaning "rich in reindeer".

Historically, these people were fierce fighters with highly developed military skills. They often warred with their neighbors, and when the Russians tried to invade their territory in the 17th century, Chukchi warriors fought them off. Their lands were finally taken over by the Soviet regime, but the Chukchi kept control longer than any other indigenous people of the Arctic.

Chukchi reindeer are less domesticated than those of other herder groups. Even so, inland Chukchi preferred reindeer drawn sledges for transportation (sometimes getting a wild ride), while the coastal Chukchi used dog teams (this is where the Siberian Husky comes from).

However, the dogs were not generally used for herding, so wandering reindeer were chased and kept in line with boomerangs.

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