The Koryaks

The Koryaks make up the majority of the northern Kamchatka’s population. When Russians appeared in the peninsula, there were two large groups of Koryaks with different languages and ways of life: the Nymylans were settled Koryaks (fishermen and sea mammal hunters) and the Chavchuvens – the nomads (reindeer breeders).
Fishing and hunting made the basis of the Nymylan society. Sea mammal hunting, as well as fishing, provided their main source of food and materials for their lifestyle. They went to sea in kayaks covered with skins of sea mammals to hunt harbor and bearded seals, and whales. Skins of marine animals were used to cover skis and boats, to make boots, sacks, bags, and belts.

The Chavchuvens primarily depended on reindeer. Deer provided the nomads with everything they needed: meat, skins to make attire (kukhlianka or deerskin shirt, malakhai or fur cap with large earflaps, and torbasa or soft boots with fur turned outside), portable skin tents (yarangas), and also bones to produce tools and utensils. The Koryaks also used reindeer as transport to move from one place to another.

The Koryaks have developed a variety of handcrafts: wood and bone carving, braiding, metal
processing (world famous Parenskye knives), ethnic attire and rugs from reindeer skins, and
The 2010 year census conducted in Russia registered 7,953 Koryaks, 6,640 of them lived in Kamchatka.

Visit the ethnographic nomad camps of Kamchatka to learn more about culture of the Itelmens, Koryaks, and the Evens. If you want to see Kamchatka’s natives dancing to drums in their
traditional clothes, to participate in contests, taste ethnic cuisine, and listen to ethnic songs,
you may visit any of the ethnic festivals – Alkhalalay (the Itelmens’ ritual festival of purging of
sins), the Koryaks’ thanksgiving holiday “Khololo” or the Evens’ New Year festival Nurganek.

Information provided by the ethno-ecological 
informational centre «Lach»