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Russian, Koryak

Russian Orthodoxy, Shamanism

other Chukotko-Kamchatkan peoples

Koryaks (or Koriak) are an indigenous people of Kamchatka Krai in the Russian Far East, who inhabit the coastlands of the Bering Sea to the south of the Anadyr basin and the country to the immediate north of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the southernmost limit of their range being Tigilsk. They are akin to the Chukchis, whom they closely resemble in physique and manner of life. Also, they are distantly related to the Kamchadal (Itelmens) on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

The Koryaks' neighbors are the Evens to the west of Koryak lands, the Alutor to the south on the isthmus of Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kerek to the east, and the Chukchi to the northeast.

The koryak are typically split into two groups. The coastal people Nemelan (or Nymylan) meaning 'village dwellers' due to their sedentary fishing habits and the inland Koryaks, reindeer herders called Chauchen (or Chauchven) meaning 'rich in reindeer' who are more nomadic. [1]

The Koryak language and its relative, Alutor, are linguistically very close to Chukchi. They are members of the Chukotko-Kamchatkan language family.



The name Koryak was from the exonym word 'Korak' meaning 'with the reindeer (kor)' in a nearby group Chukotko-Kamchatkan language. [2] The earliest reference to the name 'Koryak' were recorded in the writings of the Russian explorer Stepan Krasheninnikov in 1775. The variant name was adopted by Russia in official state documents, hence popularizing it ever since. [2]

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