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Chapter 23: The Komi of the Kola Peninsula
23 The Komi of the Kola Peninsula Helena Ruotsala The Komi belong to Finno-Ugric people of the northeastern part of European Russia. There are two branches of the Komi, Komi Zyrians and Komi Permyaks, which are regarded as linguistically and ethnically separate groups. The Komi live in diﬀerent parts of Russia; in the Republic of Komi, the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Murmansk Oblast. There are also small Komi groups in the Siberian part of Russia. In the Russian Federation’s legislation the Komi are not recognized as belonging to the category of the Small Peoples of the North owing to their relatively large number, about 490 000. The Komi republic has, however, been accepted as a member of the Barents Region in 2001. In this short chapter I will concentrate on the Komi who have lived in the Kola Peninsula since the end of the 1880s. The arrival of the Komi in the Kola peninsula The reasons for the diaspora1 of the diﬀerent Komi groups diﬀer from each other. In the nineteenth century on the European side of the tundra, in the present-day regions of Komi and Nenetsia, there raged a reindeer pestilence that carried oﬀ thousands of animals and polluted the pastures for years ahead. The inhabitants of this region, the Komi, or Komi-Iz’vatas, as the Komi of the areas around the lower course of the River Izhma were called, had to try to ﬁnd new, unpolluted pastures for their big reindeer herds....
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