Religion

Chukchi practice a so-called familial shamanism, in which the shaman does not play a key role as a specialist. Seasonal rituals assure the safety of the herds and success in hunting. Shamanism is then built on a mutual and symmetrical relationship of exchange between humankind and the spirits of nature. Traditional ceremonies, today often abandoned in coastal villages, are still alive in many herding regions.

The first campaigns to convert the people to Christianity began in 1815. Orthodoxy had little impact on Chukchi people. However, they accepted conversion in order to receive gifts such as white shirts and, the following year, when the shirts wore out, returned to be converted again. At the beginning of the 20th century, official statistics registered 6% of converted Chukchi, but missionaries claimed that even among converted people, some had no idea of orthodoxy. Since the 1990s, protestant proselytes have been particularly active, mostly in urban centers, where they work with elderly people or students far from their home villages.

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