40th Anniversary of the Modern Nivkh Alphabet of Vladimir Sangi

The Nogliki District cultural centre welcomed the residents of the urban district and guests from Tymovsk and Okha Districts to celebrate the important date for the Nivkh people: 40 years ago the modern Nivkh alphabet created by Vladimir Sangi was introduced.

On June 29, 1979, the alphabet project he created for the two main dialects of the Nivkh language was approved by the Council of Ministers of the Russian SFSR. At that time, a decision was also made to publish alphabet books in Amur and East-Sakhalin dialects.

Alphabet is one of the main achievements of human civilization. The history knows very few names of the founders of the national script. Even more rare are cases when they were members of the same nation. One of such outstanding personalities is the founder of the Nivkh literature, the creator of the Nivkh alphabet, the winner of the State Prize of Russia, the Honorary Citizen of the Sakhalin Region, the Honorary Citizen of the Nogliki District, Vladimir Sangi.

The hero of the occasion was happy to talk with those present in their native language. “Unfortunately, very few people today can actually speak their native language, the native speakers are passing away. But the guarantor of the fact that the language will live is the Nivkh alphabet,” said Vladimir Sangi, concluding his speech with a song, lyrical and tender to the ear and the heart.

Vice Mayor of the Municipal Administration of Nogliki Urban District Tatiana Kim pointed out that compared to the Slavic script, whose history goes back at least ten centuries, the Nivkh alphabet is very young. “But it is important that this is a Sakhalin anniversary, and the alphabet was written by an honorary citizen of the Sakhalin Region and the Nogliki District, the Nivkh writer and our fellow countryman Vladimir Sangi. This is a guarantee that the language can and should be preserved. Coincidentally, the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Nivkh alphabet is celebrated in the International Year of Indigenous Languages,” she congratulated the participants of the event.

“This holiday unites the entire Nivkh people. Thanks to Vladimir Sangi, we can touch the roots of the Nivkh cultural heritage. We need to preserve and cherish what our ancestors handed down to us, support and revive forgotten traditions, be proud of their history and culture!” said Alexander Sharov, Head of the Sakhalin Indigenous Minorities Subdivision at the Department of Internal Policy of the Sakhalin Region Government.

Yulia Zavyalova, Lead Specialist of the Sakhalin Energy Social Performance Subdivision, has told about many years of the company’s complex work in the field of preservation, development and popularisation of the Nivkh language. “For the 40th anniversary of the alphabet, we have prepared a series of events that take place throughout the year,” she reminded. “In January, the calendar Nivkh Year fr om A to Z was published, a literary and art competition Nivkh Alphabet was held jointly with the Association of Museums of the Sakhalin Region, books are published. Of course, we are trying to engage and motivate our children to learn the Nivkh language. Joining our efforts, we, together with our partners, will continue to work in this direction so that the native language does not disappear, so that the people live and are able to pass their culture, knowledge, customs and traditions to the next generation.”

In the hall wh ere the festive event took place everything reminded of the uniqueness of the cultural heritage of the Nivkh people. The Nogliki Local History Museum presented an exposition of works of participants of the literary and art competition The Nivkh Alphabet, as well as ritual artefacts, household items, models of Nivkh houses made from wood by Nivkh masters Vadim and Yuri Levkun. The Nogliki Central Library named after V.M. Sangi presented an exposition of books about Sakhalin Indigenous Minorities.

Olga Rozhnova surprised everyone with a creative present. She created the Nivkh alphabet from elements of Lydia Muvchiks ornaments specially for the anniversary. This font was used on souvenirs, which every participant of the event could take home as a keepsake.

The children from Nogliki Secondary School No. 2, Berezka kindergarten and members of the Nivkhinka club performed musical and theatrical programmes, and all performances showed not only the desire and ability to speak their native language, but also to creatively interpret the cultural traditions of the Sakhalin Nivkhs, and, most importantly, to keep the connection between the generations: the creative teams included grandmothers, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

The event was accompanied by performances of the Nivkh national ensemble Ari La Mif led by Alexander Goroshko for 25 years.

After the official celebration, everyone was invited to take part in workshops on wood carving conducted by Vadim Levkun and national embroidery of ornamental patterns by Elena Sadinova.

The event was organised by the Municipal Administration of Nogliki Urban District and the Nogliki Central Library named after V.M. Sangi. The partner of the event is Sakhalin Energy.

11 July 2019