The Estonian Kindred People’s Programme Awarded the Ilmapuu Prize

For the first time, the Estonian Kindred People’s Programme awarded the Ilmapuu (World Tree) Prize, with an aim to acknowledge the citizens’ initiative associated with the cultural identity and persistence of a Finno-Ugric people.

The Council of the Kindred People’s Programme decided to award the first Ilmapuu Prize to Tatiana Efimova, the head of the Society of Votian Culture, who has largely supported the self-awareness of the Votian people and contributed to the preservation of local customs.

Tatiana Efimova has been the initiator of abundant endeavours in Luutsa village (Luzhitsy, Kingissepp region, Leningrad oblast). Her work and engagement in the enhancement of Votian self-consciousness and in the promotion of Votian culture has been significant – this locally conceived and implemented initiative in Luutsa and Jõgõperä has produced tangible fruits. The Votian Museum, founded by Tatiana Efimova in 1998, became a significant centre for the Votian cultural movement. T. Efimova has been in charge of the undertaking to start celebrating village feasts in Luutsa since 2000; this celebration has become one of the most conspicuous expressions of today’s Votianhood and is highly acknowledged in the promotion of Votian people. Likewise, Tatiana Efimova has also collected the oral tradition of Luutsa villagers and compiled the genealogical trees of local inhabitants.

In 2006, T. Efimova was the initiator of the village feast and the celebration of the day of indigenous peoples, held in the new museum, opened in 2005 to replace the Votian museum burnt down in 2001. Likewise, the museum was the venue for conducting local area studies and lessons for the children of the local school. Unfortunately, the new museum building and the majority of museum artefacts were destroyed in another fire in autumn 2006. These setbacks have not diminished Tatiana Efimova’s eagerness to deal with Votian culture. Thus, she built the third museum, this time in the virtual environment. In 2005, she was also the founder of the Society of Votian Culture which began to publish a Votian newspaper Maaväči. The fact that Votian people were entered in the list of small-numbered indigenous peoples of Russia in October 2008 is largely thanks to the endeavours of Tatiana Efimova.

There were as many as 27 nominees for the Kindred People’s Programme Ilmapuu Prize, comprising researchers, school teachers, museum employees, journalists, television and radio workers, artists, musicians and those from other fields of life. It was not easy to make the decision as there were many worthy candidates for the Ilmapuu Prize. The applications submitted to the competition allow us to state that the Finno-Ugric movement in Russia also takes place at the citizens’ level.

The Ilmapuu Prize is awarded annually to one of the representatives of Finno-Ugric indigenous peoples, or to a person whose local work is densely, fruitfully and gratefully connected with the cultural identity and persistence of a kindred people. The nominees for the Ilmapuu Prize may not be familiar to the wider public, however, they are people whose vigorous work and inspiring enthusiasm allow us to speak of the living Finno-Ugric culture in certain locations. As an exception, the prize may also be awarded to a team of several people.
The prize is 20,000 Estonian kroons.

The Ilmapuu Prize is announced on the Votian vernal Earth-breathing day (maaentšäüz), celebrated this year on May 13.

Additional information:
Kadi Sarv – Tel/fax: (+372) 737 6216; E-mail:

Secretariat of the Council of the Kindred People’s Programme
May 13, 2010


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