Culture: Chukchi, Koryak
Setting: tribal warfare, Bering Strait region 17-19thc.
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Fitzhugh & Crowell 1988 p229
"As the Bering Strait region emerged from the mists of prehistory in the 18th century, hostility seems to have prevailed over trade as the dominant theme of international affairs. This was true both within and between language areas. The Chukchi and Eskimo in particular were aggressive people by disposition and effective as fighters. Their men constantly prepared for combat through vigorous physical exercise, weaponry training and drill, and practice in dodging missiles. It is not surprising that the people of Chukotka were the only native people in all of the empire who were not subjected by the Russians by force of arms. The Russians tried to defeat them during the 18th century but abandoned the effort in 1774."
* Lincoln 1994 p54-55
"Beginning in the 1640s, the warlike Koriaks of Siberia's northeast allied with the neighboring Chukchi in the most successful attempt of any natives to oppose the Russians. For more than a hundred years, the Koriaks fought the Russians, refusing even to recognize Russian sovereignty until 1712 and then continuing to fight the tsar's tribute collectors for another half century after that. Even deeper in Siberia's northeast corner, on the Chukhotka peninsula, the Chukchi never did submit, even after the Russians built a strong frontier fort in the midst of their lands. At a cost of more than a million rubles, the Russians held the Anadyr fort for more than fifty years and collected barely a fiftieth of that cost in furs. In 1764, they therefore decided to leave the Chukchi to themselves. A hundred and twenty-five years later, the Chukchi finally agreed to pay a token tribute of 247 rubles (about the amount of taxes that fifty serfs paid in European Russia) to the Russian government every year."
* Gorelik 1995 p46
"In the far north-east of Siberia the [Muscovite and Cossack] pioneers encountered a nation which they were unable to conquer, the Chuckchi. After a hundred years of warring (1640-1740) the Chuckchi kept their autonomy. The Chuckchi were the most warlike nation; their raids terrified the inhabitants of the American and Asian shores of the Behring Strait. Their war-boats conveyed ashore mighty warriors wearing heavy and unwieldy armours."
* McNab 2010 p83 (quoting Bogoras 1909)
"To be fit for fighting, every warrior undergoes hard training, and spends all his leisure in various exercises ... The hero must run for long distances, drawing a heavily-loaded sledge. He carries stone and timber, jumps up in the air, but above all, he fences with his long spear. He performs this exercise quite alone; and the chief feature of it is the brandishing of the spear with the utmost force, so that it bends like a piece of raw reindeer leg-skin. He also practices shooting with the bow, and uses for this purpose in various arrows [sic], sharp and blunt. from all these exercises he acquires great skill and agility ... When he is shot at, he avoids the arrows by springing to one side, or parries them all with the butt-end of the spear, or simply catches them between his fingers and throws them back."
* Fitzhugh & Crowell 1988 p230-231
"On Chukotka both Eskimo and Chukchi warriors sometimes wore heavy protective body armor and cuirasses. People maintained themselves on the alert and in constant readiness to repel attack, and virtually all of the early explorers commented on the 'good order' in which weapons were kept."
* Gorelik 1995 p46
"Their defensive armour included helmets, brassards and greaves made either of thick bonded strips attached to each other by thongs (later bone was replaced by iron) or of strips of a very thick and hard multi-layered walrus leather. The most interesting part of the Chuckchi armor is the 'shield' worn on the back, rather similar to that worn in former times by the Scythians. The Chuckchi shield was made of wooden boards covered and fastened together with walrus leather."
* Robinson 1967 p10
"The Chukchies and Koryaks made iron lamellar armors similar to those of Tibet, except that theirs were essentially footmen's armors and were provided with a large wooden shield, covered with leather, to protect the left shoulder and back of the head -- possibly as a defence against stones thrown from the slings of their comrades advancing behind them."