Boreas: MOVE

Google Earth file of village relocations on the Chukchi Peninsula

Mapping project description

Nuniamo, closed 1977

The Sovietization and industrialization of Russia’s northern regions was a large scale engineering endeavor that fundamentally changed a wide range of communities in diverse geographical regions, from the dense taiga at the Finnish border to the tundra expanses along the Bering Sea.

This project focuses on a case study of forced relocation on the Chukchi Peninsula in northeastern Russia. From the 1930s to the 1970s the inhabitants of mainly native coastal villages had been subjected to relocalization policies of the Soviet state that left dozens of settlements deserted.

This Google Earth based mapping project depicts the geo –spatial effects of Sovietization and industrialization on local communities on the Chukchi Peninsula, Russia’s easternmost region bordering the Bering Strait. Since the beginning of the 1930s, coastal villages predominantly inhabited by native Chukchi and Siberian Yupik were officially deemed unprofitable, subsequently closed and their inhabitants relocated to newly founded settlement centers. These state-enforced relocations of native communities, which peaked during the 1950s and 1960s, led to a creeping depopulation of a coastline, whose intricate settlement history traces back for thousands of years.

Between 1937 and 1953 the total number of villages on the Chukchi Peninsula was reduced from 90 to 31. At the beginning of the 21st century, 12 villages remained. Yet, the ruins of former settlements are not only places of the Soviet past, but now play a role in present-day lives as some individuals have moved back into the formerly abandoned villages.

The Google Earth overlay is based on research by Liudmila Bogoslovskaia (Beringian Notes 2(2), National Park Service, Alaska Region (1993), pp. 1-12), Elizaveta A. Dobrieva, Evgeniy V. Golovko, Steven A. Jacobson, and Michael Krauss (Naukan Yupik Eskimo Dictionary, Alaska Native Lanuage Center, 2004) and on Tobias Holzlehner’s research in the Summer of 2008.

screenshot Google Earth layer

kmz instructions

From this page you can download a Google Earth File (with ".kmz" extension) that corresponds to an attributed map (Villages of the Chukchi Peninsula.kmz). The ".kmz" files are zipped ".kml" files and are automatically unzipped when opened by the Google Earth application, which can be freely downloaded.

How to access the Villages of the Chukchi Peninsula layers in Google Earth

1. Download and Install Google Earth.

2. Download the Villages of the Chukchi Peninsula.kmz file., 24kb, and save it to your disk

3. Once you have your KMZ file, simply double click it and it will open up Google Earth

4. The layer will show up in the Places menu box to the left of the screen. You can expand or collapse the various folders containing different time periods of the 20th century settlement history of the Chukchi Penisula.

5. Use the dashboard in Google Earth to view information and photos of the villages

Size: 29.6K bytes Modified: 12 December 2009, 15:01