SPEECHES OF THE PEOPLES' REPRESENTATIVES
member of Council of the Izhorian "Shoykula" society,
Dear representatives of big and small Finno-Ugrian nations!
There are peoples great in their history and culture and there
are peoples which were great. There are peoples with their past
and future and there are those for whom only their past remains.
There are peoples with which no question about their significance
and national self-esteem can even arise and there are peoples
which must prove both to themselves and other peoples that they
are worthy of attention.
I am glad that the majority of the present here rank themselves
to the former I am speaking on behalf of the Izhorians. Sometime
that small but strong people which lived from ancient time on
the shore of the Gulf of Finland was known both in Russia and
in Northern Europe. Even in Rome they knew about it as early as
in the 12 century. That proud people from of old defended its
cold Baltic lands and was never defeated by anybody. Yet a victor
appeared - it is time. Time which has been, regrettably, assisted
by many a living being. The 20th century brought to the Izhorian
too little sunshine and overmuch of grief. Some 176 persons remain
of 20,000 strong people in whose passports "Izhor" or
"Izhorka" is written. A nation where you know every
individual personally. But a small number is not distress. Distress
lies in another thing.
I listened to your addresses. I understand your problems and
concerns. But they are at least positive. There is a shortage
of teachers? Yet it is good. It means that there is a want of
them. It means that your native language is called for. There
are people who wish to speak it, there are parents willing that
their children know it. Manuals, books and newspapers do not suffice?
And this is good. It means that there are people who need those
newspapers and books. And what must do the peoples whose significance
is not clear to themselves? What should peoples do who were taught
to hide their origin and to speak with downcast eyes: "Yes,
my father is an Izhorian and mother, unluckily, is an Izhorian,
too... but I am a Russian!" How replace in the nation its
national self-esteem? And how show to the rest that it is capitally
to be an Izhora - like to be a Russian, a Finn or a Hungarian?
To wait help from the state? You know that it is hard to receive
it. And to declare everywhere that we were once a great and now
are, regrettably, forgotten by everybody - this is senseless.
They do not like claimants among us. What is to be one? An unbegun
There is a good Izhorian saying: "The crow must flap the
wings to fly up on fence". And we began to "flap".
We proceeded on a route which, as it seems now, was the most correct.
We founded an Izhorian museum. It was established of what was
near at hand. Now we can remember tens of dusty lofts, dark lumber
rooms full of spider's web, queer looking refuse dumps in the
outskirts. And grizzled barrels and cracked high boots, old dusty
cloths and entangled nets hung on beams much more else. "May
we take it? - But why? - In the museum. - Who does need it? -
You - And what for? Nobody needs it". It was so in the beginning.
The museum opened on 1 October 1993 in the settlement Vistano
on the Soikinski peninsula. People went there and recognized neither
their own, as it seemed, things earlier unnecessary nor their
fathers and grate-grandmothers which looked tired at them from
old photos. They came and did not understand that their distant
past is great and the late past is beautiful. I saw how the people
were changing. First their faces were changing, then also their
thoughts. The word "Izhorian" started sounding with
pride. We had not expected such a result: national self-esteem
began to appear in front of our eyes. One small village museum
(however good it can be and these are not my words), a thousand
of old things and photos changed the status of the people. Izhorians
are now also known to other nations (thousands of persons come
to us both from villages and towns of Leningrad region and from
Finland, Sweden, England, Holland and American Indians from the
Appalachian Mountains have visited us for two years - they founded
among the Izhorians their brothers of nous!). The Izhorians are
now known to themselves, too. The museum became a means of self-preservation
of the people. After that a national Izhorian "Shoykula"
society was founded. Then an Izhorian choir appeared.
The pioneer will pass the road - this is an old truth. But everybody
opens it himself anew. One should not be waiting. For many people
will never get it. One should not hope for a help from above.
Since disillusion is always sown in vain expectancies. One should
not challenge, declaring of his uniqueness and possibility of
evanescence, for we all are unique and nobody is eternal.
One ought to do something at least. We should do it ourselves.
A Museum, A Book, A Newspaper, A Choir. One ought to act. Then
Source: III World Congress of
the Finno-Ugrian Peoples. Helsinki, 2000 [Joshkar-Ola, 2001],