Digitalization of Arctic Museums and Development of Creative Industries: St. Petersburg Seminar Addresses Preserving Cultural Heritage of Arctic Indigenous Peoples
Russia announced initiatives to digitalize Arctic museums and promote the crafts of the Indigenous Peoples of the North at the International Seminar on the Preservation and Popularization of Arctic Indigenous Languages, which took place in St. Petersburg on 17–18 March. The seminar is part of the main events being organized by the Roscongress Foundation for Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023.
“For Russia, as one of the largest multinational and multilingual countries in the world, the preservation of Indigenous Languages is a priority,” Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs Deputy Director Stanislav Bedkin said.
“Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council has placed special emphasis on the human dimension and improving the quality of life of people living in the Arctic. This is why Russia initiated the project “Digitalization of the Linguistic and Cultural Heritage of Arctic Indigenous Peoples” back in June 2020. To preserve and promote the languages of Indigenous Peoples, we intend to further develop collaboration with representatives of the Indigenous Peoples of other Arctic states, regardless of the external situation,” said Nikolai Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials.
One of the central themes of the conference was a discussion of the Arctic Council’s project “Digitalization of the Linguistic and Cultural Heritage of Arctic Indigenous Peoples”, which the International UNESCO Chair at Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University has been implementing since 2011. The goal of the project is to record, preserve, and develop the linguistic and cultural diversity of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic on digital media and also create a multicultural environment for communication in the global information space.
One part of this project is Russia’s initiative to create a unified online exposition of Arctic museums so that people can learn more about the cultural heritage of the peoples of the North. Museum collections on the cultural heritage of the Indigenous Peoples of the North will be digitalized, catalogued, and placed on a portal, including the creation of 3D models of artifacts and cultural heritage items of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic.
The Arctic Council also presented the Creative Arctic project, which seeks to preserve and promote the traditional crafts of Indigenous Peoples and was initiated by the Indigenous Peoples of Russia’s North. The project aims to develop the creative industries of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic through educational programmes at leading universities in Arctic countries. Partners include higher educational institutions of the Arctic regions and members of the University of the Arctic.
The project involves training representatives of Indigenous Peoples on fundamental aspects of the development of creative industries in art, crafts, cinema, animation, IT skills, national dress, and bone carving, among other areas. It also entails developing the local economy based on creative industries, developing tourism and folk crafts, and getting young people involved in work to preserve the traditional knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic.
The event participants also discussed such topics as creating an Arctic multilingual portal, geographic information system maps of the languages and cultural heritage of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic, an AI-based Russian-Evenki translation service, and the project “Interactive Atlas of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East”, among other issues.
“The languages of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic need special support from the state. Digitalization is one effective method for preserving and promoting the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic, especially amidst globalization. Combining the efforts of the Arctic states to digitalize the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic would constitute a significant contribution by the Arctic Council to the International Decade of Indigenous Languages that the UN has declared for 2022–2032,” said Mikhail Pogodayev, a deputy minister for the development of the Arctic and the peoples of the North of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and a special representative of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council on Indigenous Peoples and regional cooperation.
The seminar programme also included the breakout sessions “Capabilities of IT Technologies to Preserve Arctic Indigenous Languages”, Creative Writing in Indigenous Languages, Presentation of the Educational Project “Voice of the North” Literary Competition, and the Publication of Literature in the Arctic Indigenous Languages: Current State and Prospects. Thematic sessions were also held in such areas as “Methodological Support for Teaching Arctic Indigenous Languages” and “Promotion of Arctic Indigenous Languages: New Media”.
The seminar also featured master classes on pedagogical technologies, literary creativity, and IT technologies as well as an exhibition of textbooks and teaching aids on the native languages of the Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Federation.
The event was organized by the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs.