Guardian Traditions- in Old Days of Oroqen

Oroqen is one of the 55 minorities groups in China. They locate in the North China and have the least population among all indigenous groups in China. They are foraging for food. Many of them had engaged in the war with Tsarist Russia (Qing Dynasty) and Japan (World War II). After the founding of new China, Reform in Oroqen has also helped optimize rural industrial and employment structures constantly. They transfer their industrial structure from foraging to farming.

The Oroqens, with a population of 8,196, mainly live in the northeast of Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region in Oroqen Autonomous Banner, Zhalantun, Molidawa Banner and Arong Banner and in the Heilongjiang province in Tahe county, Huma county, Xunke county, Jiayin county and Heihe city. They make their homes in the Greater and Lesser Hinggan Mountains, which form the backbone of the Northeast China and the Heilongjiang River Basin. Its name “Oroqen” is called by the nationality itself, which means “reindeer people”.  They have been using birch bark which is a endangered handicraft to make everything in their life. It can use to make boats, containers, and even home. But the daily use crafts are fading into history right now. The major health issues that Oroqens have are Tuberculosis (TB), Keshan disease or endemic cardiomyopathy, Kaschin-Beck, Alcohol related disorders and Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD).

Ethnocentrism is the belief in the superiority of one’s own ethnic group, and one can understand or judge another culture in terms of one’s own. During my observations, I am really surprised that they used to believe in polygamy. Brothers, uncles or even between father and son, wifes can be transferred. I don’t like this since I think they take possessions of women and I feel like it’s disgusting. For cultural relativism, it is the principle that an individual human’s beliefs and activities should be understood in terms of his or her own culture. Oroqens believe in Shaman. Their religious form expresses as nature worship, totem worship, and ancestor worship. Even though, I don’t think that believe in Shaman has made life easier for them. But I respect their beliefs and it truly works for their cultures.

Ethnographic research is the study of people in their own environment through the use of methods such as participant observation and face-to-face interviewing. Its goal is to see people’s behavior on their terms, not ours. Because the research I conducted uses pictures, stories, and videos that from different perspectives to find how Oroqen people lives and their cultures. For example, I as a participant, to observe the Oroqen culture in the video that talks about sports. I watched the sports that people played in the videos and their interpretations about the significance of playing the traditional sports: memorize the ancestor and help the tone of the body in the winter. Through ethnographic study, I am able to get a better understanding of what is the concept of their culture and avoiding using my culture to judge them.

Within the whole mini-project, I utilized lots of great online resources. For example, I watched lots of Youtube videos about Oroqen, including interviews, musics, travel TV shows. Also, news is very important in the research. CCTV shot lots of news about different cultures in China to promote people learn about others in the country. I remember there are news about traditional sports and handicrafts. Besides, photographs, travelers’ journals, and other anthropologies’ researches are great resources as well. They helped me get a more specific sense of the environment that they live, and surprising traditions that we don’t know about.