Mari Woman from Orenburg in the southern Ural Mountains

Finno-Ugric People

Finno-Ugric people are original inhabitants of the European and Eurasian north that belong to a separate "Uralic Family" linguistic group. The Finno-Ugric substratum is present over a wide area within and outside Russia, from Norway to the Urals and down to the Black Sea. During the last glaciation, these people roamed east and west along the ice melt, from England to the Urals and beyond. Yes, the British too may have a distant Finno-Ugric past, underlying several layers of immigrants to the Isles.

Is there such a thing as a "Finnish Race?" Firstly there has to be a valid concept of race in general. But in fact the term "race" is merely a construct and races do not exist in reality, except in someone's imagination. Of course all nationalities have their distinguishing characteristics, but these cannot be construed as constituting a particular race as such. We only use the terms "Slavs" and "Finns" to distinguish between the Finno-Ugric people with common linguistic ties and the Eastern Slavs whose language is Russian. There is no actual race of Finns, Russians, or even Englishmen although you can usually tell one from the other by certain features which are defined by the climate and environment in general where various people have lived for a long time. Besides, the term is not useful in most cases because everyone living today is of more or less mixed genetic content. The idea of a "master race" or "superior race" has been thoroughly disproved. Racism is a term derived from the concept of "race." But it is really just hatred and violence against anyone different from oneself or of what they consider a lower grade stock, by someone who imagines belonging to some elite or higher group as for example royalty, or in the case of original inhabitants, the conquerors. The main job of conquerors was to convince the conquered that they are inferior, and by so doing thwarting their development. But just in case you think that this means all humans are the same, let me say that we cannot assume that just because we are all humans. If we take each nationality as a circle, then all the circles are overlapping, but they are not concentric. We have tendencies toward certain behavior, related to the type of environment we have been exposed to for long periods. This environmental pressure causes the genetics to change slightly for the purpose of adaptation, (science of epigenetics) causing a confusion for people who believe that genetics is fixed. Changes can be made this way in a generation, without natural selection necessarily playing a role. However, these changes are not always favorable for some reason, as with second or third generations after a major famine has seen in Northern Swedish populations. Russians are not the same as Finns, but they have more in common with Englishmen. Mongolians are not the same as Finns, but they have more in common with Tibetans, and so on. We can put to bed the idea that the Finns wandered in from Mongolia; Finnish genetics point straight to Europe. Finns were the original Europeans, and their range was from the Atlantic to the Urals.

See abolition of "race" concept (1950) by UNESCO.

DNA Evidence 1 DNA Evidence 2

The two indigenous people of Europe that inhabited Southern Europe were the Basques and Finns. It is possible that at some point these two groups met each other, as there are few impediments to travel north of Spain. As the Ice melted, the Basques moved north into the British Isles and Finns into Scandinavia, but the boundry may have been blurred by genetic mixing. Some Finns have ended up in the British Isles as well. Recent Genetic analysis of Y-DNA haplogroups reveal the true story. See Y-DNA Haplogroups European Haplogroups

Neighbors have their rivalries which emphasizes differences. For example, Swedes sometimes, due to neighbor rivalry, believe that their background is superior to that of the Finns. But there is no way to measure superiority as such. The Finnish education system is ranked number one in the world, and the Swedes' is well down the list, so what criteria should we use for "superiority?" People are definitely not all equal. By this we mean that using any criterion, we can find differences, which really doesn't prove anything, just that people are shaped by their environment to which they are ideally suited. Therefore we cannot feel superior to anyone. So you see, some people may be superior in a few things but not in the identical areas as their neighbors. Anyone can see that race has no place in a peaceful world, and we should all begin to recognize each other as brothers - co-inhabitants of a rapidly shrinking and vulnerable planet.

Russian policy toward the original inhabitants has a long way to go; they are preventing the Finno-Ugric people from developing prosperous communities by exploiting their local resources and giving nothing back - by being colonists as always. Individual Russians are hospitable and friendly of course. But their overall behavior as a nation keeps bouncing back to 1500's, including all the attendant evils that come with suppression, aggression, intimidation and genocide. Slavs, unfortunately, continue to be genocidal people, from the Balkans to the Arctic and stealing land from others. (Of course not all Slavs, but enough to make a difference.) Finns know this and they have a saying "a Russian is always a Russian..." (vaikka voissa paistaisi - "even if fried in butter")

Race theory presupposes that at one time there existed separate races, which in time started to mix, and there is no proof of that - quite the opposite. According to anthropologists we all came from Africa and one ancestral woman and man. Further, the total spectrum of humans, whether traits be based on color or any other criteria, is impossible to separate into categories. What will be the categories? Who will decide? A person could end up in different groups depending on what criteria was used. Attempts to broaden the concept of race to "white", "black", "yellow", "brown" or whatever is filled with similar problems. What race is someone who is 1/3 Finnish, 1/3 Swedish and 1/3 English? What shades are "white" and could you have siblings belonging to different "races?" Therefore categories of "race" really have no place in good science at all, in the opinion of the writer. It is a concept which blurs science. Besides, the main difference between all people for our purposes is cultural and linguistic, and the rest are subjects for feature character analyses of people. These can be categorized statistically, but cannot be sorted into "races" as such. Certain nationalities have certain traits which may be physical or behavioral. Still, they cannot be separated into racial characteristics.

Finns have been put into the Mongolian race by some historians. Of course this is absurd, since the ancestors of Finns have lived in the north, and "Finland" (not the present political boundary but an area reaching at least one thousand kilometers east) for millennia. This was started by someone who believed that Finns are not indigenous, so they had to come from somewhere, and to these sources, Mongolia was "east" and Finns must have come from that direction. Who says Finns are not indigenous? The edge of glacial ice melt, rich in game and fish, was inhabited from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and it was the Uralic people, the ancestors of the present Finns, who were there. They watched as Finland rose out of the sea and land appeared. The story is told in the Finnish Kalevala that Finno-Ugric people were the original inhabitants of central Europe. Recently some ultra-nationalistic ethnic Russians ("Slavs") want to propagate this theory so perhaps it can make the Finnish tribes appear to settle on their land as squatters, and therefore they have the right to toss them off as they wish. Already in 2005, the president has declared many of the cities captured in 1944, as "old Russian" cities, though 99% of the population was ethnic Finn/Karelian.

Swedes may have liked to think of themselves as superior to Finns, therefore it may have been convenient to label Finns accordingly with an "inferior" culture. So if Finns came from the east, Europeans must be Africans because they came there from the south not east, by the same logic. Most modern Europeans, including at least some ancestors of Finns, can be traced through Mitochondrial DNA to one of three clans in Africa. In fact most Europeans are indigenous going back further than the last ice age. That might surprise some, but it really makes sense. How can Saami of Finland be indigenous people of Europe, but everyone else are immigrants? We know this much: part of the Finno-Ugric substratum lived in the north and part possibly came from elsewhere, perhaps even Sumeria, not Mongolia. The writer has compared Finnish and Sumerian, and indeed there does appear to be an interesting correlation. Zecharia Sitchin, who is a scholar of ancient Sumeria, states that there is a solid linguistic connection. He states a lot of other things too, which give a lot of food for imagination regarding the ancient world and how we got here. But other scholars have come to the same conclusion. If so, how did these people get up to the new lands opened by the retreat of the last Ice Age? And why did they go there? Could ancient Sumerians have gone north and lived amongst the arctic people, giving Finno-Ugric languages a Sumerian stamp? Or did they travel south after the last Ice Age and settle in Sumeria, only to disappear again, some going south to India, near Kerala, and some back up north? Every answer forms the next question.

Newcomers filtered in to Finland over millennia and were absorbed by other arctic, possibly related people. The writer does not believe, nor does the evidence support the idea that the Finnish people "arrived" there from somewhere else, filling a vacuum. They had already been moving East and West for millennia on their ancient water-ways. The choice to settle in any area, including the present day Karelia and Finland was made for various reasons relating to survival in the north. The Finland we are talking about is not the present political boundary area, for their wilderness trips covered a much wider area and involved trade through various middle-men. The term Finn shall refer to Finnic people, covering the area between Norway and the Volga and North to the White Sea. Immigrants to these northern wilderness hunting, trapping and fishing grounds were from many different places, but over time they mixed and created the Finnish people. From this perspective, Finnish, like Saami, (saw-me) is an indigenous language of the north independent of genetics.

Finnish People of the East and West

As the ice retreated about 10,000 years ago, stone-age men, perhaps early Finns, occupied the rich new lands between Norway and the Urals. They were followed by other wanderers in the North, many of which were Germanic. According to Matti Klinge, (University of Helsinki), the dominant "genetic element" in Finland today is Germanic. Perhaps Germanic people had also followed game northward since the dawn of history and were accepted there amongst the Finns. When the waves of disease swept over Europe, it is possible that the Germanic genetic traits (ie. the ones carrying specific immune factors, such as blood type A), survived because the immune factors were already there and did not have to be produced by the Human Immune Response. In this way, beneficial traits were gradually imported along with technology to the North from Europe.

The eastern Finnic nations mixed with wanderers from the south (such as Iranian herders that followed the Volga River into Mari land) and east (Siberia) and therefore they differ genetically from the western Finns. This genetic variability was beneficial to the eastern Finns as well. Biological diversity is what helps species to survive, and this applied to the Finns as well. Naturally, in different geographical areas gene pools differ due to "genetic drift," which is a very well understood phenomenon. The Volga Finnic people are referred to as Finns here even though they differ significantly in many ways, especially in the language which is mostly conversationally unintelligible to Baltic Finns.

Uralic Eastern Connections - film about Finno-Ugric peoples Eastern branches.

Chapter 1: The Volga Finns: The Mari People

Mari Kusle, (Kuusi=spruce, a wood often used) "Kantele"

Listen to Finnish Kantele Music


One two three four five six seven eight
Ykte kakte kom- neljä- vit(t)e kut(t)e
Yksi kaksi kolme neljä viisi kuusi seitsemän kahdeksan
ikte koktit kumit nilit vizit kudit shimit kandashe

Finno-Ugric Peoples' Suffering

Polish author B. Yasensky, who perished in Stalinist incarceration wrote:

"Fear not your foes, the worst they can do is kill you."
"Fear not your friends, the worst they can do is betray you."
"Fear the indifferent, because at their silent consent, treachery and death flourish!"
Radio Free Europe Report

Polish author B. Yasensky, who perished in Stalinist incarceration wrote:

"Fear not your foes, the worst they can do is kill you."
"Fear not your friends, the worst they can do is betray you."
"Fear the indifferent, because at their silent consent, treachery and death flourish!"The return of Nazism (National Socialism) has seized many Russian states, fueled by the corrupt government and their power base, the corrupt businessmen. Russia is now involved in mass genocide according to the 1948 convention definition - with destruction of culture, murder and beatings increasing alarmingly.

Polish author B. Yasensky, who perished in Stalinist incarceration wrote:

"Fear not your foes, the worst they can do is kill you."
"Fear not your friends, the worst they can do is betray you."
"Fear the indifferent, because at their silent consent, treachery and death flourish!"The Russian people love Mr. Putin, which means they do not understand that they are going around in circles. Albert Einstein said: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." According to this definition, and because they are willing to be ruled by tyranny, something is wrong with the Russian people - their society. We know that as individuals, if we go blaming everyone but ourselves for our misfortunes, we never progress. Similarly, the Russians blame the mongols, who are now the Tatars, and pretty well everyone else for their have-not status in the world. While the other groups, such as Finno-Ugrics and Tatars show great promise in organizing a better life for themselves, the Russians do everything in their power to undermine their attempts, not the least of which is trying to convince minority peoples they are inferior and incapable of anything on their own. This is exactly the method used in the Americas on the natives. And in many cases it works.
United Nations Convention on Genocide. Finnish Seminar in Taivalkoski about Linguistic Human Rights. A resident of Komi Republic, Andrey A.Pomysov, stated a truism that is pervasive throughout the Russian realm: "Russians hate learning other's languages, preferring that they learn Russian." This is so true, in very general terms. Of course there are many exceptions. Take a look at the post Soviet situation in Estonia, the Russian minority wants to stubbornly cling to their language rights. Russian speakers are guests in these Finno-ugric republics, and if they were proper humane people, they would try to speak the language. Instead of respecting the Finno-ugric people's right to their language and culture, they are tirelessly, pervasively wanting to crush everything in sight that is not Russian, does not speak the Russian language. This is a xenophobic state, I am sorry to say. Now there might be a point if the Finno-ugric people had migrated to their land and occupied it, displacing ethnic Russians. But this is not the case, it's the other way around. If this is the case, they are not welcome, and they should go back where their great great grandfathers came from, wherever that is, somewhere further south. This includes Mr. Putin. If they want to treat people as equals and stop their rowdy insanity, fueled probably by alcoholism, they might be eventually accepted by the Finnic peoples, but it would take time. Russia has an incredibly high rate of alcohol consumption. They recently passed tougher drunk driving laws but some DUI Criminal Defense Specialists think more needs to be done to curb alcoholism in Russia.

Polish author B. Yasensky, who perished in Stalinist incarceration wrote:

"Fear not your foes, the worst they can do is kill you."
"Fear not your friends, the worst they can do is betray you."
"Fear the indifferent, because at their silent consent, treachery and death flourish!"Russian news agencies are, possibly with orders from Moscow, spreading misinformation regarding Finno-Ugric people. For example, the news agency Regnum is misquoting a Danish watch-dog organization. Regnum states that the Danish organization has done an inspection of the situation in Russia and determined that there is no "preconceived or biased attitude towards the Finno-Ugric peoples on the side of the Russian State." When the Danish organization read this in the Russian paper, it replied "with great concern" about the lies. IWGIA Response  Big Problems in Russia, Putin protects the corrupt power base and Neo-nazis.

What a world this is; Obama is a Muslim and funding terrorists (Muslim Brotherhood) and Putin is a Nazi sympathizer oppressing minorities and threatening neighbors e.g. Ukraine, whose people don't want anything to do with Putin's ("Stalin Lite") Russia. Is The Crimea Russia's Sudetenland? Having succeeded there, will he try to rebuild the Evil Empire?
Stalin's purges in Karelia - Over 6 thousand names found so far in Sandormoh Karelia, Karhumäki, or "bear hill."

Polish author B. Yasensky, who perished in Stalinist incarceration wrote:

"Fear not your foes, the worst they can do is kill you."
"Fear not your friends, the worst they can do is betray you."
"Fear the indifferent, because at their silent consent, treachery and death flourish!"KGB Coupe - Reporters that report the truth are "traitors." (Putin actually thought that Bush has the power to fire reporters, and therefore he also had the right to interfere with journalists.) Putin actually does not believe that truth exists; truth is what someone wants the people to believe, says the Washington Post

Hollow Men of Hate Cult Attack outnumbered Innocent Mari Citizens: thugs hired by Authorities!

Many Estonian sites that are informing the world about the fate of Mari people, are being attacked by Russians. This is temporarily shutting them down. Please be patient; Estonians are working hard to counter Russian attacks. At least it is a cyber attack for now, and hopefully Russians will grow up soon and leave people alone, but I would not bet on it.

Moscow-born (foreign) president does nothing; there is evidence they instigated the whole thing. It takes 30 Russian cowards to beat up 15 Mari. Why can't Russians stay in their own country; why go bother other people in theirs? (e.g. Chechnya, Estonia, Mari El...) The Russians cannot manage without trying to steal something from other nations, or otherwise meddle in others' affairs, such as those mentioned above. It seems like the Russian people do not want freedom because it would have to extend to the ethnic minorities. They want to go backwards just to prevent others from enjoying equality. For denying justice to the minorities leads to denial of their own justice and freedom as well.

The Mari People

(by Vassili Nikolajev translated from Finnish by Osmo Joronen)

The Mari people are a middle Volga ancient Finno-Ugric nation.

The Mari's divergence from the rest of the western Finno-Ugric speakers began about 3000 years ago. By 500 AD, the Mari nation had become established from the ancient Mari inhabitants of the Volga and also from the newly arrived Iranian cattle herding tribes. The meadow and mountain Maris differentiated from the original volga residents by 1000 AD. The name Cheremis (Sarmys) was probably a Turkish related Tchuvas name for the Mari, which was then adopted by the Turkish-Mongolian related Tatars, and Slavs. The Slavs propagated the term Cheremis, which others adopted as well. The word Mari, by which the Mari call themselves, may be derived from the Iranian neighbours. Apparently, the Mari used to live further west, where the Oka flows into the Volga. Historical accounts, place names and folk tales confirm this. Mari Dancers and village life

The Mari have been closely associated with the Tšuvas people from ancient times, as evidenced by the numerous loan words which are in all the Mari dialects. The Bulgars, who were the forefathers of the Tchuvas, settled in the middle Volga area in the 700's. The Mari were incorporated into the Bulgar's economic and administrative influence. Then, when the Mongolian-Tatars invaded the Bulgar state in 1230 AD, the Bulgars moved north up the Volga into the Mari territory and settled there. After that there came the Golden Horde that took over Kazan, and their rule, and finally the Russian rule starting in the 1500's.

Statistics of Mari People

In 1989 the population of Maris was 670 000 persons, of which 80.8 % claimed the Mari language as their mother tongue. About half (324 000) of the Mari people live in Mari El in the bend of the Volga River. There are Maris also living in Bashkir (106 000) Kirov province (60 000), Sverdlovsk, Perm (30 000), Tataria, Udmurtia, and so on.

Based on cultural differences, the Mari are divided into three groups: Mountain, Meadow and Eastern Mari.

Linguistically Meadow and Eastern Maris together form the Eastern Mari dialect and Mountain Mari is called the Western Mari dialect, which includes the dialects of Mari residing in Vetluga River regions. The relative composition of Mari people are: Mountain Mari 10%, Meadow Mari, 60% and Eastern Mari 30%. They have their own literary language, but most use the Eastern Mari literary language (85-90%), namely the native speakers in Mari El Republic's East half, those residing on the North shore of the Volga (Meadow Mari), those in Bakortostan and Tatarstan, Udmurtia, Perm and Sverdlovsk provinces. The Western Mari dialect is spoken by 10-15% of Mari people ie. those on the South bank of the Volga and some Mari in Nishni-Novgorod and Kirov provinces.

The closer contacts between the Mari and Slavs began in the beginning of the 1400's. At this time, the Mari joined with the Tatars against the encroaching Slavs.

However some Mari joined the Russian forces. The Mari who lived on the south side of the Volga sent representatives to Moscow, and explained that they would like to join the the Slavs against the Tatar rule. But the Meadow Mari on the north bank remained united with the Tatars. This split the Mari in two, and in 1553, Moscow's armies under Ivan The Terrible conquered Kazan. The Mari continued their fight against the invading Russians under their own leadership. These merciless wars were known as the Cheremisian Wars, which lasted from 1553-1580, and resulted in the extermination of one-half of the Mari nation.

Malmy was the last stronghold of the Mari. This was distroyed in 1556. The Mari holiday held on April 26 remembers the fallen heros of this war and honors their great leader Poldin.

The 1500's also marked the beginning of the Orthodox Church's forced conversion of the Mari people. Those who did not accept the new religion were persecuted and taxed heavily. Most of the Mari people chose to flee East to excape the new government. Over the next several hundred years, they became known as Eastern Mari people, and this group, which numbers around 200,000, still constitutes the major part of the Maris that live outside the Mari Republic.

During the Tatar rule, the Cheremises were divided into three classes: those who paid taxes, tax-free army reserves, land-owners and leaders. During the Russian rule, these divisions were preserved in the beginning. But towards the end of the 1700's, to own land, you had to be baptized. The tax-free status of the army reserves was ended in 1718 and they were combined in with the peasant classes who were now expected to serve in the army. The Mountain Cheremises ended up as serfs.

During the 1700's during the Elizabethan era many Mari people converted to the Orthodox faith, after which they were released from their tax burden. But the old nature-worship still survived beside the new religion, however, their taxes were huge. Russification with the help of the general school system began in the early 1800's but they were unsuccessful. These efforts were renewed in the 1900's and the results are most evident in the Western Mari.

Mari Educational System is born

The year 1775 was an important year. This year saw the beginnings of Mari literature; it was the beginning of teaching the Mari language. It was tied to the Cyrillic alphabet. The New Testament was translated in simplified form into the Western Mari language in 1821. During the 1800s the Orthodox Church ran the schools, where the Mari language was taught as well. The Mountain Mari school readers appeared in the year 1867, Meadow Mari school readers came out in 1870.

Four books of the Bible were translated into Mari in 1906. By the September Revolution, there were already 225 books written in the Mari language. Most of them were for use by the Church and its schools. 1905 was the birth of Mari literature. That year a Mari poem appeared in the Mari language written by Sergei Tsavain called "Oto"(leaf tree forest). The first secular works, the Marla Kalendar (Mari Yearbook) appeared between 1907-13.

These literary works were the beginnings of Mari literature. The Biblical translations were the model for correct grammar. After the 1917 revolution Maris began developing a proper grammar in its full meaning with renewed energy.

The Mari Autonomous Republic was established in 1920. Mari and Russian languages were declared "official" languages in 1923. Officials had to know both languages, and education was in both languages all the way to high school. The 1920s was the golden age of Mari culture.

In 1936 the Mari Autonomic Socialist Republic was established. The development begun earlier did not continue far. In 1937 the educated class of Mari El was almost totally destroyed by Stalin's decree. A mass grave of 200 Mari writers was found in a swamp near Joskar-Ola, and on Stalin's orders, the educated class was desimated: artists, skilled workers, doctors, and teachers, together about 4000 - in other words the cream of Mari El. The murdered people of 1937 were reburied in a communal grave near Joskar-Ola in 1990. The bodies were recovered from their mass graves with all the bodies in disarray with vodka bottles and other liquor bottles. Every skull had a bullet hole. Dispite the terrible fate of the Mari people at the hands of the Communists, the Mari culture could not be destroyed. Fortunately Mari literature made a comeback after WW2. The period after Stalin's death (1953) was called Krushchev's Protective Era. In 1960 Mari literature was reborn. Valentin Kolumb (1935-1974) was the best known writer of this period. Kolumb dealt with the Mari condition in a time when the subject was not appreciated by the Communist government.

In a short time Kolumb wrote ten books which have been translated into other languages, but not into Finnish. The themes are current events, but the poems contain a lot of thoughful and timeless philosophical themes. Kolumb is the renewer of Mari poetry (meter); as the first Mari lyricist he used a free (vapaata riimillistä mittaa in Finnish) verse. Kolumb also translated some Kalevala runes as well as Shakespeare, Goethe and other world classics. In 1963 Erik Sapajev wrote the first Mari opera "Akpatyr" based on the text by Sergej Tsavain. Akpatyr tells of the wars between the Mari and Tatars. The main character Akpatyr is based on a Mari mythological character.

But, at the same time Khrushchev's educational renewal policies were a disaster to the Mari educational system. The schools were Russified en masse except for country schools grades 1-3 (1-4).

In villages with a majority of Russian speakers, the lower grades too were soon taught in Russian. This was called the period of stagnation. It was a time when youth felt that being a Mari was not an asset and many were ashamed of their nationality. Many young Mari wished that their passports were stamped "Russian." In literature, those who bent to the will of the Communist Regime, produced "Mari Realism" - superficiality in which the harsh life in the Communist state was smoothed out and repressed.

Geography and Statistics

Today Mari El is not a much bigger piece of the Volga shore than Mikkeli province in Finland. Its area is 23 300 km2. Mariland is a part of the Russian Federation. The population in 1993 was 760 000. The breakdown was as follows: Mari 43% and Russians 47%, Tatars 6%, Tšuvash 1,3% etc. Mariland has altogether 50 nationalities.

Opportunities to develop their own language culture have improved for the Maris as well as their brethren Finno-Ugric peoples. This is partly due to the fact that in their name-sake Republic, there is a 43% Mari population and even in the nearby Bashkortostan the Mari culture has survived comparatively well. This compares with the lower Mordovia 34%, Udmurtia 31%, and Syrians in Komi only 25%.

The capital city of Mari El is Joshkar-Ola and it means "red city." Joshkar has another meaning in the Mari language, "beautiful." The capital city has 300 000 inhabitants of which only a quarter (23%) is ethnic Mari, which is not a lot relative to the Republic's population. On 22 October 1990 Mari Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic became a part of the Russian Federation. Since 1992 the country is officially a Republic named Mari El. "Mariland" or in Finnish, "Marinmaa," has its own parliament, national flag, crest and anthem. Mari El is represented in the upper house (in Finnish korkeimmassa neuvostossa) of the Russian parliament. In December 1991, the Republic of Mari El got its first president. The first president was a mountain Mari Vladislav Zotin. The Mari started to demand language and cultural rights similar to other minorities in Russia. The increased freedom of speech which was present after 1985 did not immediately have any impact on the literary output of the little nation. Stereotypical thought and decades of brainwashing regarding cultural history and identity were still alive and well.

The first literary works that showed any new ideology began to appear in the late 1980s when the Stalin era archives were opened. The new Mari literature is completely new and original and modernizing in style. They deal with the terrible fate of the intelligencia during the 1930s, the stagnation period and contemporary problems.

In April of 1990 the Mari Society (Marij ushem) was established. Almost every area where there are Mari, you will find a chapter. In April of 1992 the democratic society of Marij ushem held its second congress. At this time the basically social/cultural organization became a political party and a Mari nation leadership meeting was called. The meeting was held 30-31 October 1992.

This was the third meeting of the Mari national movement. The first two leadership meetings were held in 1917 and 1918, after which they were banned for 75 years. Many important first steps were made in the direction of developing a stronger Mari identity and protecting and developing the Mari language and culture. In 1991 the Mari historical society established a religious organization (in Finnish according to Vasli: "Valkoinen luontouskovainen marilainen" ristim&aiml;tön, puhdas, varsinainen marilainen). This means that the ideal Mari believes in nature religion and is "not baptized, and clean." When V. Zotin was elected as President, in 1992, an Orthodox minister was called from Kazan to bless him into his position, since Zotin is Orthodox. The Meadow Mari also demanded their "Kart" which is a nature worship priest. (niinpä Os mari - simari johtaja siunaisi presidentin)

The Mari Parliament (Kugyzany Pogyn) was established in December 1993. There were 30 members. In 1994 there were 14 Maris in the Parliament and the representatives are voted in by a free vote. By tradition, the Mari cultural affairs, information, education and foreign affairs, during Zotin's time were in the control of a Mari native speaker, and the Russians controlled industry, environment and finances.1

But now the second president is Russian (Vjatšeslav Kislicyn) who does not understand Mari, and the ministerial portfolios too have changed. The country has about 20 political parties. Communists have continuing strong support. 2 The presidential elections only strengthened the Communist party. The classroom is usually represented by many nationalities. The common language is Russian, the language of the majority.

Only in the countryside are there schools teaching lower grades in Mari, and not in every village. According to the official sources, the teaching in all Mari lower grades (1-3) and children's daycare etc. is in the Mari language. But official and reality are two different things in Mari El, like everywhere in Russia, as it was before in Soviet society, where what is expedient and politically correct (for the Russians ofcourse) still rule. There are still no schools in the Mari language in the cities so that when they inevitably enter the cities, they are Russified against their will. 3

In the Fall of 1994 a new educational system appeared in Mari El, which promised to increase the Mari culture in the schools. According to the new system, in the lower grades, (grades 1-4) education would be in the Mari language. Mari language, literature, history and culture would be offered in most Middle Schools ( grades 5-11), Trade Schools, Technical Schools, and High Schools. The problem is, there is so little written material in the Mari language, and what exists is mostly out of date.

Since the 1993 Finnish Parliament's approval of support for Finno-Ugric development, there has been an increase in the development of teaching aids. According to official sources, there were 256 schools in Mari El in 1989, where Mari language courses were taught, or was the language of instruction. In 1994 there were 354. Despite this, Mari language and culture are still being taught as a "foreign language and culture," only part-time and only about 1-4 hours per week.

Outside of Mari El there are 250 schools in which the Mari language and culture are taught. The text books are brought from Mari El, which itself is short of teaching materials. 4

In 1994, only 1.3% of Russians spoke Mari. 5 In 1993, a National Secondary School (In Finnish, "Kansallinen lukiokoulu") was established in Joskar-Ola. The Mari National Secondary School: In 1994, interest in Mari language education both at the High School and Technical School level was four times greater than available courses to train teachers. In the Joskar-Ola Pedagogical Institute there has been established additional groups, 25 for Mari students who will be training as kindergarten teachers in the cities. Finnish and Estonian are taught in several Mari schools as well. Interest in the Finnish language is great - the goal is the strengthening the Mari identity with the help of the western related languages. The Joshkar-ola teacher's college (Fin=Joshkar-Ola Opetusinstituutti) offers Finnish on a regular basis. Finnish is also taught at the Joskar-ola University's Mari Language Institute. Mari cultural life is somewhat impeded by the fact that Joshkar-Ola is over 75% Russian speaking, and therefore the course offerings are correspondingly larger in the Russian language. And even worse, in 2005, the Moscow backed leader has begun a genocidal approach, a final solution to Russia's minority language "problem." 6

So in the Mari National Library is located in Joshkar-Ola and it is named after the great writer Sergej Tsavajn, who is like the counterpart of Alexis Kivi, the great Finnish writer. The library was established in 1920. Most of the books are printed in Mari El and concern the Mari people, the Mari nation, its living conditions, nature, culture and history. Only 10% of the books are in the Mari language. There are also foreign literature.

According to the Mari cultural sociologist (Marilaisen kansantieteilijä) Timofej Jevsejev (1887-1937) his namesake National Museum was founded in 1920. The National Museum has three sections: describing Mari nature, culture and Mari tradition. The museum also displays articles made by Mari living outside the Mari El Republic. In 1986 the museum had an exposition of Finnish culture by IIdiko Lehtinen and sponsored by Finn-Stor. The Mari National theater in Joskar-Ola, Sketan Theatre, was established in 1919. It puts on programming 3-4 times per week in the Mari language. There is something new every month - seven different Mari presentations per year plus some translations. The director of the National Theatre is Vasili Pektejev who has visited Finland many times as a director and actor, representing Mari Usem, and taking part in the Tampere Summer Theatre program. The youth theatre, Samyryk Teatr (Nuorisooteatteri) is called Irkabajev's Theatre, for its director. The director, Oleg Irkabajev, is trying to renew the Mari Theatre's fame - with Mari historical as well as modernistic presentations. It works out of its cramped Joshkar-Ola doll theatre as a room theatre. Irkabajev's theatre has received the approval of the open-minded, educated Mari youth.

JJoshkar-Ola's doll theatre, which is a relatively modern building, puts on doll shows in Mari and Russian. In the Fall of 1992, Joshkar-Ola doll theatre put on a show during Finland's 75th anniversary celebrations, in the Mari language and Russian "Alvar and Shadow" which was arranged by Miklai Rybakov and the Finnish director Nena Stenius. The Mountain Mari's capital of Tsykmaan (Kosmodemyansk) has a new West Mari dialect theatre as well. Joshkar-Ola also has opera and ballet, but in the Russian language.

There are many publications in the Mari language, but with small distribution. Still they have an important meaning to Mari language, Mari literature, native culture and the national identity. The publications are read by Mari living outside the Republic as well. All the Mari publications suffer from shortages of paper. There are just too few computers, or they do not exist at all. The largest Mari language newspaper "Mari El." A very popular paper is the illustrated humor publication called Patšemys. The Meadow Mari cultural publication Ontsko (Forward) is about Mari literature and translations from froreign languages. The comparable Mountain Mari publication is U sem (Uusi sävel in Finnish) or New Tune. Of the children's publications, Ketche (Aurinko) "Sun" is the most popular. A somewhat less popular one that appears in both Mari dialects is the children's publication Jamde li in Eastern Mari, Jämde li in Western Mari, or Be Prepared.

Kugarnja (Friday) is directed at 15 - 35 age group, which tries to emulate the free style of Western publications. Kugarnja is noticeably freer and more democratic than Mari El. The Mari publication distribution is as follows: Patchemy, Mari El, Ontyko, Kugarnja, Ketche, Jamde li, U sem, Jämde li TV and radio Mari language programs.

The majority of television and radio is in the Russian language. Every day Mari television has 2-3 hours of programs where half is in Mari and the other half in Russian. Joshkar-Ola radio has 18.5 hours of programs which is split 50-50 between Mari and Russian. Included in the Mari programming is also some Western Mari dialect programs. The Mountain Mari, in Tsykma (Kosmodemyansk) have their own radio station.
(Vassili Nikolajev, 1997 - an ethnic Mari) Vasli's Finno-Ugric Magazine

1 Russian financial management is at third world level.

2 The Estonian Institute says Communists cannot ensure the survival of Finno/Ugric people.

3 Communism destroys native cultures: the state takes over education of children. It happened with the native people of Canada and the United States.

4 Why not help the Mari develop Mari culture. Aid to Russia does not get to minorities.

5 This is typical of Russians, who resist learning the language of whatever country they make their home in, such as Karelia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; Mari El.

6 Notwithstanding the fact that such a large percent of Russian speakers live in Mari El, this should not be too great a problem if the children in the countryside continue to get a Mari education, and the numbers of Mari schools increase in the cities. The same happened in Finland with the Swedes when they outnumbered the Finns in the cities. This changed when the Finns began moving into the cities. Perhaps founding a Mari Language University in Mari El would encourage Mari from outside the Republic to move there and change the demographics in favor of the ethnic Mari.

Valerii Tishkov, the director of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology, said that Moscow should back the introduction of the Latin script in Tatarstan because that will help anchor the central Volga republic into Europe and reduce the influence of the Muslim East, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 30 August. PG

Latinization would also help anchor the Mari Republic to its cousins in Europe, namely Finland and Estonia. It would help to preserve the Mari culture and language by reducing the influence of Russian, which should be, and rightly so, a secondary language in the Mari Republic. Mari scholars could convert the existing texts and manuscripts in a reasonable length of time. And while they are at it, they could translate other languages to print. Finland may even be willing to finance such a project if the Mari themselves request it. Finnish could become a model for words previously borrowed from Russian. This may sound like a far-fetched idea but it could be doable.

Uralic and Finno-Ugric Links

Finnish Genes
Russians say nyet to freedom
Johanna Laakso- On Finno-Ugric relatedness, factually and politically motivated views.
Listen to Mari language film - Bible story in Mari! Select speed, then hit "watch film" to bring up list of languages. Copy link and paste in Real Player if it doesn't pop up.

Finno-Ugric Links- Mari El and related

Swedish racist attitudes towards Finns. (Fin.) This article is about old racist attitudes that many Swedes still have towards Finns. One Swede told the writer that Finns are unfortunately from a "Mongolian" stock. Racist attitudes, ingrained for generations, are indeed difficult to erase simply by a UNESCO report. But worse than this is Russia's Racist attitudes towards the Finno-Ugric people.

Dictionary- Dictionaries of Uralic languages
"Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"> Finno-Ugric Languages- Finno-Ugric Languages, Overview

Maps- Uralic Family Home Page map collection

Finno-Ugric Links - Good links to Finno-Ugric sites

Mordovian Appeal for help - will you listen?

A Karelian Journey Interesting narration of scientists travelling in Northern Karelia

Short history of the Finno-Ugric people From ice age to Varangians and Rus. FU Stats.

The Ural Mountain region, Yugud-va park. According to Russians, the Novgorod people "discovered" the Urals. Should we tell them? We the Finns discovered them. Life on the Tundra (A treeless area between the icecap and the tree line of Arctic regions, having a permanently frozen subsoil and supporting low-growing vegetation such as lichens, mosses, and stunted shrubs) and Taiga (A subarctic, evergreen coniferous forest of northern Eurasia located just south of the tundra and dominated by firs and spruces).

Nenets, photos (Siberia Gym)

Endangered Uralic People

3-D Histogram of Uralic speakers 1959 -1989

Blood Types Analysis of blood types of various populations.

Endangered Uralic Languages

Aunuksen Karjalan sanasto

Saving Karelian language - McGill University Paul Austin's views

Bjarm and Perm history
Information Center of Finno-Ugric People
Finno-Ugric Core Values - Finland and Estonia.
Distant affinities of Finno-Ugric and Uralic People
The Finnish Substratum in Russia Today - Many Russians believe they are Slavs, but actually they are sometimes more Finn.

Uralic Languages

International Movie Database
Finnish Books and Videos
Best Selling Books

Copyright 1998 - 2015 Osmo Joronen