The tonkori is a traditional string instrument of the Ainu people. While the tonkori was partly used in northern Hokkaido, materials and ways of playing the tonkori are now reported to have originated in Karafuto (present-day South Sakhalin).
*2 Some of these sound sources are currently available online via the Hokkaido Museum, the Koizumi Fumio Memorial Archives (Tokyo University of the Arts) and Waseda University. These sources can also be found in the National Diet Library and various other museums.
*3 Kuzuno Tatsujiro ekasi (1910-2002)
Kuzuno Tatsujiro was a well-respected elder who was fluent in the Ainu language and was knowledgeable of Ainu rituals in Shizunai, Hokkaido. Ekasi is an Ainu term for a male elder.
*4 UPOPOY: National Ainu Museum and Park opened in 2020 as a composite of three facilities, named in the Ainu language: an=ukokor uaynukor mintar (National Ainu Park), an=ukokor aynu ikor oma kenru (National Ainu Museum) and sinnurappa usi (Memorial Site).One important context for UPOPOY and the Ainu people is the assimilation policy laid down by the Japanese government during the modernization efforts that started with the Meiji Restoration.
In the process of colonizing Hokkaido, Karafuto and the Chishima (Kuril) Islands, the Japanese government deprived the Ainu people of their rights to land and resources, banned hunting, gathering and cultural customs, and imposed Japanese-language education. Such policies brought severe damage to the lives and culture of the Ainu people.
In 1997, the Ainu people were recognized as “Indigenous'' for the first time following the Nibutani Dam Case, filed by the first Diet member of Ainu descent, Kayano Shigeru and others. That same year, for the first time in about 100 years, a new law commonly known as the Ainu Culture Promotion Act of 1997 was enacted.
Following the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIPs) in 2007, both houses of the Japanese Diet unanimously passed a resolution in 2008 urging the administration to recognize the Ainu as “Indigenous Peoples'', which led to the establishment of the Advisory Council for Future Ainu Policy. Following the recommendations of the council, progress began on developing “a symbolic space for ethnic harmony”.
In 2019, the Act on the Promotion of Measures to Realize a Society That Will Respect the Pride of the Ainu, known as the Ainu Policy Promotion Act of 2019 was enacted, and the Ainu were finally legally recognized as “Indigenous Peoples” for the first time.
UPOPOY is operated by the Foundation for Ainu Culture, which formed in 2018 with the merger of the Ainu Museum (a private organization run mainly by the Ainu people for many years in Shiraoi-cho, Hokkaido) and the Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture that was established under the act of 1997.
*5 According to the National Museum of the American Indian, “American Indian”, “Indian”, “Native American”, or “Native” are all acceptable terms to be used. The museum states that “in the United States, ‘Native American’ has been widely used but is falling out of favor with some groups, and the terms ‘American Indian’ or ‘indigenous American’ are preferred by many Native people,” although it is preferable to use specific tribal names.
*6 In the Ainu language, samo refers to people of the ethnically Japanese majority (in Japanese, wajin). Alternatively, the Ainu word sisam, meaning “neighbors”, is also used.
*7 Mayunkiki’s first solo exhibition, SINRIT teoro wano aynu menoko sinrici a=hunara, (From here, we look for the Roots of Ainu Women) was held at CAI03 in Sapporo between January 19-30, 2021.
*8 Kayano Shigeru (1926-2006)
Kayano Shigeru was the first Ainu person to become a Diet member in 1994 and, for the first time in history, to pose questions to the Diet in the Ainu language. As a cultural researcher himself, he collected Ainu implements and recorded oral histories, of which a portion is currently designated as Important Tangible Folk Cultural Property.
*9 Kawamura Kenichi (1951-2021)
For 40 years from 1983, Kawamura was the Director of the Kawamura Kaneto Ainu Memorial Museum in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. He also served as the President of the Asahikawa Cikappuni Ainu Culture Preservation Society, one of the designated preservation associations for Traditional Ainu Dance that is recognized as Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties.
*10 See note 3.
*11 Utasa Festival 2021 is viewable online on Youtube: DAX -Space Shower Digital Archives X.
*12 Bear Iyomante is a ceremony in which a bear cub, caught during bear hunting, is carefully raised by the village until it grows up, when it is “sent off” to the world of the kamuy (“spiritual deities”).