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The Sakhalin Indigenous Minorities Development Plan is a long-term programme founded on the collaboration among the Sakhalin Indigenous Minorities, Sakhalin Energy and the Sakhalin Oblast Administration, producing invaluable experience in embracing new opportunities for developing the potential of the Sakhalin Indigenous Minorities.

S.K. Kurmanguzhinov, Chairperson of the Regional Council of Authorised Representatives of the Sakhalin Indigenous Minorities (2008-2012)



An ABC Audio Book of the Uilta Language was Presented on Sakhalin

The Sakhalin Regional Museum of Local History hosted a presentation of Uiltadairisu. Speaking Uilta ABC audio book published with the financial support of Sakhalin Energy under the Sakhalin Indigenous Minorities Development Plan partnership programme, implemented jointly by the Sakhalin Oblast Government, the Regional Council of Sakhalin Indigenous Peoples Authorised Representatives and the Company.

According to Nikolay Mizinin, Head of the Sakhalin Indigenous Minorities Department of the Sakhalin Oblast Governor Office and Government, it makes one feel hopeful and optimistic that today people contribute to the revival of their languages. “Creation of an audio ABC book is just the beginning of a long journey to revive the national culture of the Sakhalin indigenous minorities. Because, as we know, all the best things in the world start small.”

Today, the number of native speakers of the Uilta language is not more than 20, which is alarming, since much of the knowledge of the indigenous people, which is normally handed down from generation to generation orally, may be lost forever. This is why Sakhalin Energy has supported, for many years already, linguistic research and the publication of books, facilitating the preservation of the Uilta language.

In particular, an Oroki-Russian and Russian-Oroki dictionary was published in 2003, and the first Uilta ABC book came out in 2008. It is symbolic that the audio version of the latter, which continued the series of publications, was released on the eve of the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The project was initiated by Olga Solovyeva — a representative of the Uilta from the village of Val, a researcher at the History Department of the Sakhalin Regional Museum of Local History.

“This is one of the most important events in the territory of the Sakhalin Oblast. Thanks to the authors of the ABC book, the Uilta language, which is under a critical threat of extinction, will survive. Indeed, language is the foundation of every people’s culture. A people and its traditions will live and develop as long as its language exists,” said Anna Lygina, Deputy Head of Sakhalin Energy Social Performance Subdivision.

“Puril”, “uile”, “hotto”, “siltukku” — these mysterious words and the magical song of a shaman, performed by a native speaker, gave everyone present an opportunity to become, if for a few moments, part of the Uilta people and to gain an insight into their ethnic identity. According to Elena Bibikova, who read the text for the ABC audio book, the duration of sounds is of great importance in Uilta, because the same written words can have completely different meanings.

“The ABC audio book was published in the hope to preserve our language in the oral form, because we will never be able to pass on the authentic language to the next generation unless we hear someone speak it correctly. This is undoubtedly the great benefit of the publication,” added Elena Bibikova.

The ABC audio book, which will make it possible to hand down the invaluable ethnic information to future generations, was created in partnership with the Association of Museums of the Sakhalin Oblast as part of the Nada Pelimi (We Must Hurry) tender-based project.

By the way, every guest of the presentation had an opportunity to receive a copy of the unique edition with an autograph of native speakers. The audio book will be useful not only to young representatives of the Uilta people, but also to anyone wishing to learn the disappearing language. Judging from the fact that practically all available audio CDs with the ABC book were distributed among the guests in a matter of minutes, we have every reason to hope that the status of Uilta as a disappearing language will shortly be replaced by the status of a language studied by people.

The Uilta (also known as Oroks or Orochen) is one of the smallest Tungus-Manchurian peoples of the Russian Federation, the indigenous inhabitants of Sakhalin Island. According to the 2010 census, there were 295 Oroks in Sakhalin. The endonym of the people is Uilta (“deer people”, originates from “ula” — “deer”). The Uilta language is referred by UNESCO to endangered or disappearing languages. The language did not have a written variant until the beginning of the XXI century.

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/ Achievements

Received the main award in the all-Russian Corporate Philanthropy Leaders contest in nomination The Best Programme for Corporate Philanthropy Policy and CompanyТs Social Investments Principles

Winner of Vitus Bering International Award

Winner of social investments contest УCorporate Donor of Russia Ц 2008Ф

First prize at the Far Eastern International Festival of Indigenous People