Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ainu - Spirit of a Northern People

Ainu - Spirit of a Northern People. The Ainu are the original indigenous people of Japan. This site is an online exhibition of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History exploring the ancient origin of the Ainu, their relations with the Japanese, and the Ainu cultural rebirth. The exhibit itself was from 1999.

The Ainu are native to Hokkaido which is north of Honshu in Northern Japan, the Kuril Islands, much of Sakhalin, and the southernmost third of the Kamchatka peninsula. Wikipedia notes that early contacts with the Japanese were friendly but later became violent. The article reads, "At first, contact with the Japanese people was friendly and both were equals in a trade relationship. However, eventually the Japanese started to dominate the relationship, and soon established large settlements on the outskirts of Ainu territory. As the Japanese moved north and took control over their traditional lands, the Ainu often gave up without resistance, but there was occasional resistance as exemplified in wars in 1457, 1669, and 1789, all of which were lost by the Ainu. Japanese policies became increasingly aimed at assimilating the Ainu in the Meiji period, outlawing their language and restricting them to farming on government-provided plots."

There is evidence that the Ainu may have been among the first settlers of North America as Kennewick Man is believed to be of Ainu origin.

2 comments:

Lukas said...

Thats a great site, if you want to see more Ainu artifacts the American museum of natural history has a fantastic online collection with photos of 473 Ainu objects here: - The Ainu are in the 'Asian ethnographic collection' There are alot of other interesting objects from around the world there too.

Doug & Helen said...

As the Ainu are a relatively modern group they can't be the ancestors of Kennewick man. Maybe their ancestors were related, whoever they were.