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The Ainu, their Land & Culture
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Ainu: Spirit of a
Northern People


Overview | Culture | Geography & Maps | Peoples | Siberia

The Ainu originally lived in a region including Sakhalin Island near the mouth of the Amur River, the Kurile Islands, southern Kamchatka, and Hokkaido, today the northern island of Japan. They made their living by fishing and hunting, including for sea mammals. They are especially well known for the bear ceremony, an important part of their religious rituals. They used dogs for hunting, as sled dogs and in their rituals.

Here are resources on Ainu culture, its regional influence and their distinctive maritime world.

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The Ainu of
Northeast Asia


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The Ainu of Japan (First Peoples:
Level 4-8)


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The Ainu: A Story
of Japan's
Original People


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The Ainu and
the Fox


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Harukor: An Ainu
Woman's Tale
(Voices from Asia)


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The Conquest of Ainu Lands: Ecology and Culturein Japanese Expansion,1590-1800


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Ainu Folklore: Traditions and Culture of the Vanishing Aborigines of Japan 1949


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First Fish, First People: Salmon
Tales of the North
Pacific Rim

Story of the Ainu,
Ulchi, Nivkh, more


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Rise of Civilization
in East Asia


Ainu People: Overview
  [ Top ]

Ainu Origins including links between ancient Jomon and Satsumon and the Ainu, and agriculture practiced by Ainu ancestors

Ainu People from North Japan: photos and fishing techniques, and more on the Ainu: history, culture, language, more

Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People: online tour of a National Museum of Natural History exhibit [requires Flash to view] and text-only exhibit descriptions:
  · Room 1: introduction to Ainu history;
  · Room 2: Ainu regional trade and its influence;
  · Room 3: Ainu rituals and hunting methods;
  · Room 4: Ainu house;
  · Room 5: Ainu sending ceremony for the bear
  · Room 6: Ainu carvings, including bear carvings
  · Room 7:
rebirth of Ainu art and culture

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Ainu: Spirit of a
Northern People


Ainu Chisato Dubreuil - Key to the Exhibit: she worked with William Fitzhugh, Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center, to create the exhibit, Spirit of a Northern People

Ainu of Hokkaido: origin, recent history and likely future, and more on the Ainu and their history

Ainu of Sakhalin Island with archeology and a history timeline of the region, and Ainu & Nivkh & Orok of Sakhalin Island

Ainu & Nivkh or Gilyak: of Sakhalin Island

Ainu People in Art: man with spear, Ainu fishermen, Ainu ceremony,
Ainu musician, Ainu traveling, Ainu group with child

Ainu Culture & Ritual   [ Top ]

Ainu Background and History: including early speculations on origins

Ainu: native people originally of Sakhalin Island, the Kurile Islands and Hokkaido, Japan's northern Island, with many aspects of native culture including food, clothing, ornaments, housing, marriage, family life, rituals including the bear ceremonial, dances, more

Ainu Artifacts: image gallery from the Boone Collection, including:
  · Clothing - robe with elaborate design
  · Prayer Sticks - with ceremonial cup, stand;
   notice bears

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A Fine Ainu
Kimono from
Japan - World Cultures Giclee
Poster Print

Ainu & Ryykyu Textiles: comparing the fabrics and designs of the Ainu of Hokkaido and the people of Ryukyu or Okinawa

Ainu Culture:  clothing, pottery, trade and the bear sending ceremony that suggested links between Ainu and northern cultures, and more details on the Ainu bear sacrifice

Ainu Culture: part of the "Okhotsk culture" at southern end of the Sea of Okhotsk, with pictures of Ainu robes and a traditional Ainu house, and a look at the Ainu and the Okhotsk culture, the latter having "extensive trade routes which crossed these frozen waters, linking the Okhotsk peoples both to the Chinese Empire and to their far northern neighbours."

Ainu Lifestyle and Ainu Artifacts  60 photos of carved wood objects, clothing, jewelry, scabbards, harpoons, other hunting equipment, more

Ainu Dog: member of the spitz dog family including northern breeds

Ainu Language: various theories of the origin and relationship of Ainu with other language including Native American, Pacific Rim languages

Ainu Language: an Ainu / English word list

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Our Land Was a Forest: An Ainu Memoir (Transitions:
Asia and the Pacific)

Ainu Language & Lore: the legends and history of the Ainu was passed down by oral tradition as they did not have a written language

Ainu Language Preservation: 15 families keep alive the last Ainu dialect as well as folklore, an oral tradition

Ainu Legends including the ancient concept of bear as ancestor and care taken when fishing for salmon

Ainu Religion & the Bear Ritual and the Bear Ceremony among the Ainu and neighbors the Gilyaks [Nivkh], Goldi and Orochi as described in Frazer's The Golden Bough and the bear ritual as viewed by Joseph Campbell

The Ainu & the Samurai: anthropologist C. Loring Brace proposes that the Samurai descended from the Ainu, not the Yayoi people

Ainu Village Museum: Asahikawa: showing an array of cultural artifacts and skills such as weaving, carving, houses, boat, musical instruments, and so much more

Ezo or Yezo: previous name of Ainu people of Hokkaido and Honshu

Ainu culture & history: people of Hokkaido, northern Honshu, the Kurile Islands, and southern Sakhalin Island

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Stereoview: Ainu fishermen on their
primitive boats Yezo Japan

Ainu Word List with English Meanings: for example, "seta(ha)" is dog, while "poy seta" is "small dog"

Fish Owl Ceremony: Ainu rite for sending back the owl spirit, one among many cultures honoring the owl

Foundation for Research and Promotion Ainu Culture including
  · Ainu Culture Center in Tokyo
  · Logo based on the Owl reminiscent of the Tao Tieh symbol

Research on the Ainu: with early black and white sketches of Ainu men and women

Land of the Ainu: a brief overview with photos of native fishing methods, the salmon ceremony and more

Shamanism: excerpts from "Aborginal Siberia," by M.A. Czaplicak, 1914, with picture of Ainu "bear feast" and link to a map of Siberian peoples

Traditional Ainu House: at the Shiraoi Ainu Museum, also called Porotokotan and a brief history of the Ainu

Windows to the Ainu World: an Ainu story, observations on the natural wealth of their world, and a photo of an Ainu native dance

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Crossroads Alaska:
Native Cultures of
Alaska and Siberia

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Spirit of Siberia:
Traditional Native Life,
Clothing and Footwear

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The Shaman's Coat:
A Native History
of Siberia


Clink link to order A History of the Peoples of Siberia
A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia's North
Asian Colony 1581-1990

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Art of the Amur: Ancient Art of the Russian Far East
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Baikal: Sacred
Sea of Siberia


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The Forgotten
Peoples of Siberia

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Shamanic Worlds:
Rituals and Lore
of Siberia and
Central Asia


Ainu Geography & Maps   [ Top ]

star-red.gif (881 bytes) Ainu Map: see Amur River valley, Sakhalin Island, Kurile Islands, Hokkaido and rest of Japan plus Korea in relation to each other, plus six maps showing Ainu history, including routes of earliest arrivals from Asian mainland thousands of years ago

Map of Amur River in Asia

Map of Eastern Siberia: see the Chukchi Peninsula, the Kamchatka Peninsula, Sakhalin Island, Hokkaido, Kurile Islands, Aleutian Islands and Alaska in relation to each other

Map of Lake Baikal: in southern Siberia, the world's oldest and largest freshwater lake, seen in relation to the Amur River that flows east to Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk, just north of Hokkaido

Maps of Sakhalin Island: and changing rule

Map of Siberia: with route of Trans-Siberian Express, the railway from Moscow to Vladivostok, with Mongolia, China, Korea, Japan in perspective

Peoples of Amuria & Siberia  [ Top ]

Map of Aboriginal Peoples of Siberia: including neighbors of the Ainu including Nivkhs, Oroks, Olcha, Nanai and photographs of Amur River People & Natives

Map of Indigenous Ethic Groups: home areas for the Siberian Tundra Nentsi, Forest Nentsi, Selkups, Siberian Komi, Altais, Kets, Yakuts, Buryats, Evenks and Evens, Yukagirs, Chukchi and Asiatic Eskimos

Map of Native Languages of Northeast Siberia: in relation to native languages of the Amur region, Alaska, Northwest Coast Indians - with Ainu at far bottom left, on Hokkaido, southern Sakhalin Island

Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire: info on 85 peoples of Russia and Siberia, including Ainu neighbors along the Amur River and on Sakhalin Island: Nanais, Negidals, Nivkhs, Orochis, Oroks, Udeghes and many others

Indigenous Peoples of the Far East of Russia: current and former Ainu neighbors - Orochs, Negidal, Itelmen, Evenk, Nanai, Nivkh plus other peoples of the lower Amur River

Clink link to order Ancient People of the Arctic
People of the

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East of the Sun:
The Epic Conquest
and Tragic History
of Siberia


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The Journey
of Man:
A Genetic


Clink link to order Drawing Shadows to Stone
Drawing Shadows to Stone:
Photography of the Jesup
North Pacific Expedition


Clink link to order Antler on the Sea
Antler on the Sea:
The Yup'ik and Chukchi of the
Russian Far East


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Raven and the
Rock: Storytelling
in Chukotka


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Gaining Ground?
Evenkis, Land
and Reform in
Southeast Siberia


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Identity & Ecology
in Arctic Siberia:
The Number One
Reindeer Brigrade


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Siberian Survival:
The Nenets and
Their Story


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First Fish, First
People: Salmon Tales
of the North
Pacific Rim

Story of the Ainu,
Ulchi, Nivkh,Salish,
Makah, Spokane
and more


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The Vanishing Tungus: The Story
of a Remarkable
Reindeer People


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Ancient Horsemen
of Siberia


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Shyaan Am!:
Tuvan Folk Tales


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The First Americans:
In Pursuit of Archaeology's Greatest Mystery


Native People of Siberia   [ Top ]

Northeast & Eastern Siberia

Ainu: native people originally of Sakhalin Island, the Kurile Islands and Hokkaido, Japan's northern Island, including the bear ceremonial, and more on Ainu Origins, and links between ancient Jomon and the Ainu

Chukchee People and Culture: the maritime and reindeer peoples, and more on the life of the reindeer Chukchi, with many pictures

Chukchi: from the Centre for Russian Studies, Norway, and more information about the peoples of Russia & Siberia

star-red.gif (881 bytes) Chukchi & Neighbors:  people & environment, from WorkingDogWeb

star-red.gif (881 bytes) Chukchi Origins: what recent genetic research tells us, through mtDNA and Y chromosome research, from WorkingDogWeb

star-red.gif (881 bytes) Chukchi Origins in the Paleolithic: origins of Native Siberians and Native Americans, seen in archaeology, from WorkingDogWeb

Chukchi Photographs: and 130 photographs including sled dog teams, a pair of dogs helping a hunter haul home a seal, hunters and sled dogs

Chukotka: an ethnographic site with map, facts, photos including the Anadyr River, communities, reindeer camps, people, native dog

Crossroads of Continents Exhibit: Siberia & Alaska - meet the Chukchi, Koryak, Even, Amur River people in Siberia, Eskimo, Aleut, more

Ekven burial ground & settlement - Uelen, Chukotka: this 500 BC to 1000 AD site gives a look at Early Whale Hunter cultures, includes walrus ivory tools, human burial in a boat, dog burial. Ekven shamaness burial.

Evenk or Evenki: a people perhaps established through intermixing of Tungus and Yukagir people before the Russians arrived

Even & Itelmen of Western Kamchatka: a researcher studies their culture after the Soviet Union ended; photos of Even reindeer people

Itelmen: native people of Kamchatka, and more on the ancient Itelmen

Jesup Expedition to Northeast Siberia:  photographs of North Pacific peoples including the Ainu, Chukchi, and Itelmen of Siberia

Koryaks: history, language, culture of Koryaks, Chukchi's neighbors to the south, with photos of Koryak sled dogs, and a look at Kamchatka's Koryak and Itelmen and Evenk influence on Koryak reindeer herders

Native Folks of Siberia: Chukchi of Northeast Siberia, and the Ainu, Itelmen and Nivkh of Kamchatka and the Lower Amur River region, with photos of sled dogs of the Itelmen

Orochon or Orochi - Reindeer People of the Amur: a Tungus people, hunters and breeders of reindeer, who also hunted bear - many photos including Orochi, Koryak, Yukagir, with native dogs pictured

Peoples of the Russian North and Far East:  resources about the North Pacific peoples including the Chukchi, Koryak, Evenki and more

Rock Art in Russian Far East & Siberia: a window on ancient cultures, and comparison of Siberian native art from the Amur River, Chukotka areas

Yukagir: an ancient Siberian people, western neighbors of the Chukchi, and a short history of the Yukagir who once occupied a vast region

Western & Southern Siberia & Nearby Areas    [ Top ]

Cave Art in Siberia: changes in rock art in Southern Siberia over time reveals history, migrations

Indigenous People of Western Siberia: Finno-Ugrian, Ob-Ugrian & Khanty

Krasnoyarsk Peoples: peoples from the Siberian steppe north to the Taimyr Peninsula - Kets, Nagansans, Selkups, Samoyeds, more

Reindeer Herders of Siberia - Nenets: people of northwest Siberia near the Yamal Peninula

Reindeer-herding Forest Nenets and Khanty: among 15 reindeer herding peoples in the Russian Arctic, and their spiritual lives including the role of the bear in warding off evil, and a map of the Tundra Nenets'
summer migrations on the Yamal Peninsula

Reindeer People of the Mountain Taiga of Central Asia:  Tsaatan, Todji-Tuvin, Soyot, and Tofilar peoples, and the Evenki, with maps

Reindeer & Caribou: Rangifer tandarus, a vital source of  transportation and food for native peoples of Eurasia, and Reindeer Herding History

Sami People: reindeer herders of Scandinavia, and the Sami: People of Sun & Wind in the archives and Sami history as ancient reindeer hunters, and reindeer herding origins among Saami, Scandinavians 2,000 years ago

Sami People: herders of semi-domestic reindeer for 1,000-1,500 years, and adoption of large-scale reindeer herding in 16th, 17th centuries

Uralic-speaking Peoples: Nenets, Nagansans, Selkup, Kanty, Mansi, with a map, and another map of Uralic-speaking people in Western Eurasia, some of whom are reindeer people, and more on their cultures and languages

Peoples of Lake Baikal: Buryat, Evenk and Russian settlers, and the region's archaeological sites

Circumpolar People of Asia & North America

Ancient Circumpolar World: seeking connections between the ancient peoples of northern Asia and Native Americans

ArcticCircle: Links to Northern Culture & Peoples: includes Peopling of Siberia, circumpolar history timetables, portraits of Arctic peoples

Alaska's Native Peoples & Languages: with a clickable map, and more about Alaska's Native People

Alaska's Archaeology: links to key archaeological sites, more

Eskimo Peoples of North America: including archaeology, history

Eskimos: Arctic peoples of Siberia, Alaska USA, Canada and Greenland, known today as Yup'ik, Inuit and Inupiaq, with maps, history

First Societies of the Circumpolar North: resources including:
· Aboriginal People of the Russian North
· Aboriginal People of the North American North

Koniag Peoples of Kodiak Island: by 7,000+ years ago, maritime hunters were living on Kodiak Island and nearby Alaska Peninsula, and more on the peoples and cultural traditions of Kodiak Island and Alaska's gulf coast, and another look at native history in this region

Inuit of Canada: and their ancestors, the Dorset and Thule people, and more on Inuit art

Mammoth Trumpet Archives:  news of early Americans, connections with Asia and Siberia, from the Center for the Study of the First Americans

Native Peoples of Canada:  including ancient links to Beringia, Asia
· Paleoarctic or Beringian Tradition: a culture linking Siberia, Alaska
   and the Yukon as early as 13,000-10,000 BP
· Early Paleo-Eskimo Cultures: culture dated to 2,500 BC in Canada,
   with origins rooted in cultures of Neolithic northeastern Siberia
Middle Paleo-Eskimo or Dorset Culture: 1,000 B.C. to 500 A.D., an
   era of reduced caribou hunting, increased marine mammal hunting
· Thule Culture: classic Eskimo culture, 1000 A.D. - 1600 A.D.

Paleo-Eskimo & Dorset & Thule & Dene: native peoples - northern Canada

Russian Encounters with Native Americans of Northwest: including Aleut, Inupiat, Yupik Eskimo, Tlingit, Haida and more

Clink link to order The Palaeolithic of Siberia
The Paleolithic
of Siberia

Clink link to order Ancient People of the Arctic
Ancient People
of the

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Ancient Encounters:
Kennewick Man and
the First Americans


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Siberia Bound: Chasing
the American Dream
on Russia's Wild Frontier

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Siberia, Siberia

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