Dukha - the lords of the taiga
Highly distinct from the steppe grasslands found in much of Mongolia, the habitat classified as taiga, dominated by forested areas and high tundra, forms the northern-most tip of Mongolia, providing home range for the world's southern-most indigenous reindeer herders.
Inhabitants of the Eastern Sayan region, where today North Mongolia meets Tuva Republic have the same genealogy, language and traditions but the events of the past separated them by borders, the Dukha being the only ones remaining outside Russian Federation. The land of nomadic Dukha is one of the most isolated and austere places in the Northern hemisphere.
Today, the Dukha represent Mongolia's smallest ethnic minority, with approximately 45 households herding reindeer. Their spiritual traditions are powerfully defined by shamanist beliefs and among the most enduring in the world. They are, to varying degrees, facing threats to their cultural survival, including transitions to market-based economies, tourism, global warming, language loss and assimilation into the dominant majority.
National Geographic August 2010