Canceled due to COVID-19



NAISA Annual Conference is internationally recognized as an important space for Indigenous scholars to come together to share their research, and to build networks for future academic initiatives. Since 2007, its annual meetings (or conferences) have attracted an increasing number of Indigenous Studies scholars. In 2019, NAISA’s annual meeting was held outside North American for the first time (i.e. in New Zealand) and also for the first time topped 2,000 registrants, reflecting not only the growth of the Indigenous Studies discipline, but also NAISA’s success at internationalizing itself. However, while NAISA continues to shephard Indigenous Studies’ presence on the international stage, one key gap remains: Indigenous scholars/issues from Russia are absent not only from NAISA as an association, but also from its annual meetings. This event sets out to change this by bringing Indigenous Russian scholars to the fore of the 2020 NAISA meeting itself.

indigenous peoples in russia

Roughly 2% of the Russian population is legally categorized as ‘Indigenous’ people, with 41 distinct Indigenous small numbered nations in the Russian North, Siberia, and the Far East known as KMNS (korennye malochislennye narody severa) (Kryazhkov, 2013). 

Russian laws define small numbered indigenous peoples, or KMNS, as “Peoples living in the territories of traditional settlement of their ancestors, preserving a traditional way of life and a traditional economic system and economic activities, numbering within the Russian Federation fewer than 50,000 persons, and recognizing themselves as independent ethnic communities” (Donahoe et al., 2008, p.994). Some of the traditional economic systems and activities that Indigenous peoples in Russia continue to engage in today include nomadic reindeer herding, fishing,  gathering, and hunting.

Photos courtesy of: Nikita Kaplin


Donahoe, B., Habeck, J.O., Halemba, A. & Santha, I. (2008). Size and Place in the Construction of Indigeneity in the Russian Federation. Current Anthropology. 49(6). p.993-1020.

Kryazhkov, V.A. (2013). Development of Russian Legislation on Northern Indigenous Peoples. Arctic Review on Law and Politics. 4(2). p.140-155.