There is a legend about these people who are called Nivkhs and who inhabit Sakhalin today. They are said to have originated from a mountain tribe and be kin to bears.
It was believed that bear-humans sent bear cubs to the Nivkhs to be fed and taken care of for several years to subsequently participate in a deadly battle during a holiday. If a man was killed by a bear it was considered that he became a bear himself – locals believed he didn’t die, he just left for mountains. He was buried as a holy animal. So the Nivkhs had a tough past, you know.
That strange holiday was last celebrated in 1970! To be fair Sakhalin bears are not so big as Kamchatka ones and islanders had more chances to survive in such battles. The huge bears of Kamchatka would probably never leave humans alive…
The Nivkhs, their culture and traditions are almost extinct. Even those whom you see on these images have already died due to various reasons. The deer followed their owners….
What chances do the Nivkhs have to preserve their population? There is hope they will manage to build a new village in the place of the destroyed one. Today the last of them survive due to fishing, fortunately there is still a lot of fish in Sakhalin.
It used to be profitable to catch seals but their skins are not sought after anymore so the Nivkhs keep catching seals only for food, when they become too tired of fish.
Seal meat tastes rather special, but actually this taste cannot be called unpleasant. Limbs of the animal are smoked over a fire and eaten too.