Friday, November 17, 2006

When the Soviet revolutionaries went North to try to make the Northern nomadic people the Soviet idea of modern, they viewed shamans as the equivalent of priests--professional religious people who should have no power.

One Soviet revolutionary working in the area said that was hard because it was hard to distinguish between a shaman and a regular member of the tribe who knew how to play the tamborine, in fact, most or all men of the tribe he was working with had tamborines and beat on them in the evening. They were also very important to shamans.

Shamans in that tribe also didn't seem to be professionals. They didn't seem to get supported like Russian Orthodox priest.

The reason the Russia revolutionaries fixing Siberian tribes who didn't know they needed to be fixed wanted to know who was like a priest is so they could take away their vote in voting for the local Soviet, the worker's committee that was supposed to run everything. The revolutionary working in the tribe where all men had a tamborine and it was hard to tell who the shaman was didn't disenfranchise anyone.

Some people in the tribes didn't want to vote. It seemed to make the people elected superior to others. It also had no effect on the whether or the availibility of game to hunt and eat, so what was the point?

--Information from Arctic Mirrors: Russia and the Small Peoples of the North by Yuri Slezkine