Newsletter of the Fenno-Ugria Foundation. Tallinn. In Estonian

No. 1, 1997

The year 1996 has proved successful for the Department of Finno-Ugric and Comparative Ethnology of the Estonian National Museum

Art Leete gives a report of numerous field-works and exhibitions organised by the researchers of the Estonian National Museum (ENM). Two new ethnographic films were shot together with the Estonian Television. Co-operation with the Komi National Museum is successfully developing. Publications by the researchers of the ENM numbered 41; beside that, 32 lectures were held in Estonia, as well as in Russia, Finland and Hungary. The most rejoicing fact is that 67 ethnographic specimens were added to the funds of the museum.

Language problems of Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia

Jaak Prozes claims that Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia have problems with maintaining their languages: between 1959 and 1989 the number of Finno-Ugrians who consider their national language as mother tongue decreased from

90–95% to 70–80%. The language that the child starts speaking depends largely on its parents. The main problem facing the parents is to save their offsprings from ethnic discrimination and give them primary education in a language that would permit the young person to continue successfully until the institutes of higher education. J. Prozes gives a statistically illustrated overview of the language situation of Finno-Ugric peoples in Russia as regards the usage of a national language (1) at educational establishments, (2) in public life and (3) in mass communication. J. Prozes concludes that a contribution to the survival of Finno-Ugrian cultures can be made by raising the importance of usage of Finno-Ugric languages.

Revitalising the Academic Club of Kindred Peoples

On February 27, fifty academic persons whose slogan seems to be ‘Let us be Europeans but remain Ugrians!’ gathered in Tartu to re-generate the Academic Club of Kindred Peoples. The Club functioned from 1920 to 1940. Among the founding members of the pre-war Club were Prof. Lauri Kettunen, Harri Moora, August Anni(st) and Oskar Loorits. In 1935 the Club had 108 members, among them five honorary members: Prof. Istv?n (Stefan) Csekey and Dr. Elemer Vir?ny from Hungary, Prof. Lauri Kettunen and lady Kettunen from Finland, and Dr. Oskar Kallas from Estonia. Between 1920 and 1940 the Club organised courses of the Finnish language for beginners; sent Christmas packages to Livonian (a Baltic-Finnish nation in Latvia, today a dozen of people), Lutsi and Leivu (Estonian-speakers on language-islets in Latvia, extinct today) children, collected money for building the Livonian Community Centre, in cooperation with Fenno-Ugria Foundation published several periodicals, etc., writes Marju Kõivupuu. At the restitutional meeting of the Kinship Club, the necessity to change the old statutes was discussed and the seven-member provisional board was elected. The Club sets its hopes on the new generation of maintainers of traditional Finno-Ugric culture.


On the Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples

The Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples (YAFUP), established 18 June 1990 in Yoshkar-Ola (Mari El), unites the youth and other organisations of Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic (Uralic) peoples. YAFUP is actually the only organisation that co-ordinates the cooperation between Finno-Ugrian youth and makes a strong impact on the youth policy of the Finno-Ugrian republics in Russia. The 4th congress of YAFUP (to be held 19 to 22 September 1997 in Tallinn, Estonia) will be the first one conducted outside the Russian Federation. The forthcoming congress is expected to build the bridge between youth organisations of Finno-Ugric peoples and those of ethnic minorities living in the countries of the European Union.


50 years of the
Institute of Estonian Language

The Institute of Estonian Language was established in 1947 in Tartu as the Institute of Estonian Language and Literature under the Estonian Academy of Sciences. However, as the process of demolishing the network of scientific establishments in Estonia was soon triggered off, the Institute was moved to Tallinn (in 1952) and its folklore researchers became separated from the folklore archives of Tartu. In 1993 the literature departments of the institute were separated and reorganised as the M. Under and F. Tuglas Literature Centre. The remaining language and folklore departments were renamed as the Institute of Estonian Language. The institute, often despised by intellectuals for being a branch of the Soviet ideological establishment, has nevertheless done rewarding work for the Estonian national culture. Today, the Institute with three times fewer workers issues about 20 publications (books, brochures, etc.) each year.


The Annual Assembly of the Fenno-Ugria Foundation

At its assembly held April 26 in Tallinn, the Fenno-Ugria Foundation accepted three new members: the Institute of History of the Estonian Acad. Sci., the Chair of Finnic Languages of the Faculty of Nordic Studies at the Tallinn Pedagogical University, and the Society of Mordovian Culture in Estonia. Reports on the Fenno-Ugria’s activities in 1996 and its present financial status were discussed and approved. The assembly appointed Kaido Kama and Andres Heinapuu as full members and Jaak Prozes, Mart Meri and Tõnu Seilenthal as assistant members to the Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples. According to the new Estonian law on nongovernmental organisations, the assembly accepted the proposal by A. Heinapuu, Director of the Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples (SURI) to reorganise the Fenno-Ugria as a non-profit organisation. Dr. Seppo Lallukka, a Finnish member of the board of the SURI, made an overview of activities in the frame of the Kindred Peoples Program, aimed at assisting the survival of Finno-Ugric languages and cultures in Russia. Mr. Madis Järv (Estonian Ministry of Culture) gave a brief overview of similar activities in Estonia.


The Kindred Peoples Programme in Finland (1994–1996 activities)

The Programme of Kindred Peoples is based on two treaties between Finland and the Russian Federation, in which the parties committed to support the survival of languages and cultures of Finno-Ugric peoples in Russia and promote their contacts with Finland in the areas of culture, education and science. Since 1994, offered under this programme were training for Finno-Ugrian compilers and publishers of text-books in Russia, lecturing on Finnish language and culture, studies of Finno-Ugrian students in Finland and Estonia were subsidised, books were sent to Finno-Ugrian libraries in Russia, leaders and researchers of national museums were trained, some newspapers in the vernacular received financial support, etc. For detailed information, contact the co-ordinator of the programme: Mr. Tarmo Hakkarainen, M. A. Castrén Society, P.O.B. 242, FIN-00171, Helsinki, Finland; phone +358-9-1357820, fax +358-9-6222315.


Southern Estonians
fighting for their language

Kauksi Ülle writes about the problems with publishing the ABC-book of the Võru language. Võru language speakers, like the Setos, live in the South-Western Estonia. In the last century, fierce disputes were held on the issue of whether the Estonians should have the one and only literary language – which finally was decided to be based on the North Estonian language. Speakers of the South Estonian language, however, have maintained their language up until now. Today, a contemporary ABC-book of this ancient knowledge has been prepared. In 1996, the manuscript won the Prize of Estonian Rebirth (an award instituted by Baron Jakob von Uexkyll,

a descendant of an ancient Estonian aristocratic family living in Germany). Nevertheless, Estonian foundations and the Ministry of Education refused to support publication of the book. The Ministry of Culture delivered a small sum, insufficient for the purpose. What kind of institution must support publication of a book like that, Kauksi Ülle asks.