China - Last hunting tribe to move out
[15 March 2002, BBC Monitoring News] Damala, an
Ewenki woman hunter in her 40s, has been busy preparing to
move as the relocation of her whole tribe, the last hunting
tribe in China, will start this fall.
The relocation of the township of Aoluguya in Genhe city,
aims to preserve the ecological balance of the mountains where
the tribe currently lives, according to a March 13 Xinhuashe [Xinhua
News Agency] report.
Gu Xianglian, head of the township, said the construction of a
new Auloguya will start after March, and the township has
received 6 million yuan [US$725,513.91] of the projected 50
million yuan [US$6.05 million] earmarked for the relocation.
Ewenki hunters used to be a "reindeer tribe," the only
ethnic-minority people in China living on raising reindeer.
The hunters are Yakuts, a branch of the Ewenki people, and
they have special government permission to hunt in the
The name "Aoluguya" means a place with flourishing aspens. The
township is located at the center of the primeval forests in
the northern part of the Great Khingan Mountains and about 100
kilometers [62.15 miles] south of the Mo River, the
northernmost tip of Chinas territory.
Ewenki hunters moved to Aoluguya in 1965 from the township of
Qigan by the Eerguna River. Currently Aoluguya is home to
nearly 500 residents, including Mongolians, Han Chinese,
people of Chinese and Russian ancestry and about 230 Ewenki
While most Ewenki hunters have adopted modern lifestyles, more
than 30 veteran hunters such as Damala still live on hunting
and raising reindeer in the mountains. Damala has 130
reindeer, which bring about 8,000 yuan [US$967.35] a year in
As weather conditions have initiated changes in the
underground permafrost horizon, which resulted in frequent
floods in recent years, the mountains have become increasingly
inhospitable to hunters who want to expand reindeer raising,
said Genhe deputy mayor Du Ruixia.
Furthermore, the Ewenki hunters, scattered in the mountains,
are unable to get adequate education, medical care, water and
power supply and telecommunications services, Du explained.
Damala, like her neighbors, says she will miss the home where
she has lived for some four decades. But she says the
relocation is good for her family.
"My son is studying at a school in Genhe city. Even if we were
not required to relocate, I would also leave the mountain
sooner or later," she noted.
Some of her neighbors, however, are reluctant to move.
"It is OK here," said Suo Yulan. "Why must we move?"
Gu explained that what the hunters worry about is that the
Ewenki, as a people, will lose their identity once they move
out of the mountains.
Mangui, at the northern end of the railway through the Greater
Khingan Mountains, has been selected as the new site for the
township of Aoluguya.
The Ewenki people will be moving into bungalows built with
bricks and wood, each occupying 35 square meters [377 square
feet], said Genhe city officials. The city plans to have
telephone lines installed in 80 percent of the households in
the new town while building schools, a hospital and a post
Hunters in the new community will continue to make a living
raising reindeer, spotted deer and red deer, Gu said.