Koryak, Nymylan in Russia

Map Source:  Peoples of the Red Book
People Name: Koryak, Nymylan
Country: Russia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 8,100
World Population: 8,100
Primary Language: Koryak
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 5.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.88 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Ural-Siberian
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Koryak are a small indigenous group of people who live in the northern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. Their land was taken over and colonized by Russian Cossacks in the late 17th century. Due to a smallpox epidemic and constant warfare, the Koryak population was cut by more than half in the 18th century. The Koryak were forced to pay taxes in furs and sometimes forced to join the Russian Orthodox church.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Koryak are divided into two distinct clans. One group live on the coast and make their living by fishing and taking marine animals like seals, walruses and small whales. They live in settled villages. The men are frequently gone on fishing and hunting trips. Women gather berries and roots in the short summers to supplement their diet of meat and fat. Other Koryak live in the interior of Kamchatka Peninsula and follow their herds of reindeer throughout the year. They utilize the entire body of the reindeer for clothing, tents, tools, and meat. Both groups of Koryak are gradually coming into the modern world. They sell reindeer, meat and skins for things they cannot make for themselves like cell phones, tools, snowmobiles, gasoline, small appliances and plant foods. Snowmobiles are now more common than reindeer and dog sleds. Koryaks travel in family bands of six to nine individuals. The head of the band makes decisions with the consent of the rest of the family. Animal skin clothing is slowly changing to more modern winter Russian clothes. It is possible that in the next few decades that the Koryak language and culture may disappear. More and more young people prefer to speak Russian. They often move away from the Koryak homeland to look for better economic and educational opportunities. May native Siberian languages have become extinct as more people become "Russified."

What Are Their Beliefs?

The great majority of the Koryak practice folk religion. They believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature. The sea, rocks, rivers, sky, and animals all possess a spirit. If the spirits are pleased, food is plentiful. If the spirits are offended, they can bring illness and scarcity. The village shaman connects the Koryak to the spirit world. The shaman provides charms, offerings and rituals that provide protection for the people. A small fraction of the Koryak claims to be members of the Russian Orthodox Church. Some Bible portions are available in the Koryak language.

What Are Their Needs?

The Koryak need to hear a clear presentation of the gospel in a way they can understand. They need to be freed from their belief in and fear of natural spirits. Medical and veterinary teams could come to Kamchatka and meet the physical needs of the Koryaks and their animals.

Prayer Points

Pray the Lord sends workers to tell the Koryak about Jesus and His love for them. Pray the entire Bible becomes available in the Koryak language. Ask the Lord to begin a Disciple Making Movement among the Koryak people in this decade. Pray that the few Koryak believers would grow in the faith and demonstrate the life of Christ to their families and friends.

Text Source:   Joshua Project