WRH / ICR Visit Reindeer Herders in China
Written by Johan Mathis Turi   
Saturday, 13 December 2008 00:00
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The Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) and the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) have for the first time visited reindeer peoples and investigated reindeer husbandry in China in June of this year. WRH and ICR were guests of the municipal administration of Genhe municipality in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous region in northern China. The goals were the sharing of information and initiating cooperation with reindeer herders in this part of the world.


Aoluguya Reindeer and Minority Culture Festival

This visit was a follow up to the visit by Evenki reindeer herders to Kautokeino / Guovdageaidnu early this year, whereby WRH were invited to China and expressed an interest in joining the Association. The WRH visit coincided with the occasion of "Aoluguya Reindeer and Minority Culture Festival" held on 20-21 June in Genhe. The theme of the festival was reindeer husbandry in China. (See Aolugoya in Google Maps)




Soft reindeer antler is the cash crop for Evenki reindeer herders in China - here JM Turi observes an Evenki herder clotting a cut antler using ash. The reindeer has been sedated.


Reindeer herders in China are a group of Evenki who are known as the  Aoluguya-Evenki. Evenki are an ancient reindeer herding peoples who have practiced reindeer husbandry in the taiga region for thousands of years. This region in China is regarded as one of the founding areas of reindeer husbandry in the world.


Smoke is used to deter biting insects and is an age old Taiga reindeer husbandry practice.

The festival was a presentation of Evenki reindeer husbandry in China - their art and their culture. Presentations of past and current reindeer herding practices were made, Evenki art and handicrafts were presented and performances by some the regions best known singers were held. In addition to the cultural activities there was a one day seminar where the situation of reindeer husbandry was discussed and the challenges that herders faced were outlined.


One day seminar in Genhe, where mutual interests and challenges were discussed.


Johan Mathis Turi (General Secretary of the WRH) presented the history and activities of WRH, Elna Sara presented the work of ICR. Ellen Inga Turi presented her research in comparing the social organisation of reindeer husbandry in Sami are and the Nenets region. The WRH/ICR delegation delegation also had the opportunity to visit one of the largest groups of reindeer herders in the far north of China's reindeer herding area.


The signing ceremony - Evenki reindeer herders in China are now members of WRH


In the course of the visit, Evenki reindeer herders joined WRH officially, and a cooperation agreement was signed between WRH and ICR and the Evenk Autonomous Okrug Research.

A more in depth report on reindeer husbandry in China will be prepared over the summer.




Alougoya, China, Evenki, Genhe, ICR Activities, Johan Mathis Turi, WRH Activities, WRH COngress