Originally residing throughout Japan's four major islands, the Ainu today live principally in Hokkaido and Kuril Islands in Japan (formerly also on south Sakhalin Island, Russia). Ainu has not been found to be related linguistically to any other language, even though a number of theories about its origins have been advances by scholars.The last speaker of the Sakhalin dialect died in 1994. In the 1980s, the Ainu experienced an ethnic revivial, comparable to that of the Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians and Arctic peoples. In 1997, the Japanese government officially recognized the Ainu as an indigenous Japanese minority group.
Cultivators and sedentary, the Kayan have active trading and exchange relationship with various groups up and down the Baram. They are great craftsmen and well known for their boat-making skills, which they carve from a single block of belian - the strongest of the tropical hardwoo.
- GABOR, Wilhelm. “The Ainu in Japan: Ethnic Identity and Cultural Definitions”, Pro Ethnologia 11, Tartu, 2001.
- Ainu in UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
- Ainu Museum
- Encyclopedia Britannica
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