oroqen

This is a photo of Chuonnasuan (1927–2000), the last shaman of the Oroqen people.   It was taken by Richard Noll, in July of 1994 in Manchuria near the Amur River border between the People’s Republic of China and Siberia, Russia.   Oroqen shamanism is now extinct, but before this last shaman died, Richard Noll and Kun Shi were able to document much of the lifestyle of the Oroqen.  They published their observations in the Journal of Korean Religions, 2004, 6:135-162

“Traditionally the Oroqen have a special veneration for animals, especially the bear and the tiger, which they consider their blood brothers. The tiger is known to them as wutaqi, which means “elderly man”, while the bear is amaha, which means “uncle“.

“Chuonnasuan told us that spirits were invited into a person’s  body usually only during healing  rituals, and that a shaman would not do this casually. We asked him if it was possible to introduce spirits into another person without first doing a healing ritual, and his one word answer was emphatic:  “No.”  We additionally questioned him about why the spirits “descend” into him. He told us that most of them come down from the upperworld ( b’wa ). “More than half of my spirits came from there. The shaman does not go there. Some spirits come from above, some wander around on earth (the middle world, or  berye ), like fox spirits.” When we asked him which class of spirits was more powerful, he said it depended on the situation. “But usually those from above are more powerful.”

According to Wikipedia, in the summer of 1952 cadres of the Chinese communist party coerced the leaders of the Oroqen to give up their "superstitions” and abandon any religious practices. 

Only 2250 people speak Oroqen???!

What is Oroqen language? It is a Northern Tungusic language. It is one of the most oldest ethnic groups in northeast China. The ancient people, that are known as Shiwei formed part of the language. Oroqen is mainly used in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, and the ancestor of this language originally lived to the north of Heilongjiang.  In 1953, research showed that there were only 2,250 Oroqen people. Here’s the thing, why there are existences of extinction of languages?

To begin with, the extinction of a language, such as Oroqen, is because there are only a few young people speak that language. Young people are the core of a language. If a language is spoken by a new generation, then the language will not be extinct, as teenagers and children are able to inherit a language.

What’s more, the extinction of a language exist when that language has already lost its cultural value. Gradually, it will be taken place by some other languages that is used by more people because it is more meaningful to use. To be more specific, if a language is not used in scientific researches, famous books, airport, etc. People only use that language in that country for communicating, only with the native speaker there. Then the language will be useless.

The languages like Oroqen, is in the process of going to be extinct. From my point of view, due to the reasons said above, extinctions of useless languages are inevitable results.