log cabine schoolhouse surrounded by coloful yard ornaments
Schoolhouse in Zalarinskii district

Shorly after the United States saw huge waves of immigrants and Americans cross the continent in search of land “out West,” Russia experienced a similar mass migration, going East, to Siberia.

Today, the Siberian village of Tagna includes direct descendants of Russian, Ukranian, Belarusian, Polish, German and Dutch pioneers who settled here 100 years ago. Both local history and folklore traditions thrive here, with tales of UFOs, Kolchak’s hidden gold, snake charmers and shaman conspiracies, alongside local foodways with roots in western and central Europe. Your group leader, Dr. Yelena Minyonok, will share her deep understanding of the Siberian immigrant experience as you see, hear and taste it for yourself in this spacious land of forest, fields and mountains.

Note #1. To get to Tagna you go through Irkutsk, gateway to the famed Lake Baikal. By all means, take a few extra days to see this natural treasure! We’re happy to provide recommendations and to help you make the arrangements.

Note #2. Due to recent changes in Russian law, this trip is structured as a “study tour.” Mainly this means that your trip leader works closely with local cultural officials to identify traditional singers, musicians, storytellers, crafts people and local lore experts. To keep costs down, accommodations will be comfortable but rustic, and participants are expected to carry their own luggage and pitch in with group chores. There will still be plenty of time to film, record, photograph and interview the tradition-bearers you meet.

Arrive and Depart through:
Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia

About This Expedition

  • Dates:

    August 4, 2022 to August 24, 2022

  • Location:

    Zalarinskii District, Irkutsk Province, Russia

  • Projected Fee:

    $3000

  • Apply By:

    June 6, 2022

Meet The Team

  • head shot Yelena Minyonok

    Dr. Yelena Minyonok

    Major Researcher and Chief Curator of the Folklore Archive
    Gorky Institute of World Literature, Moscow

    Lena Minyonok is a philologist, folklorist, and Principal Investigator of the American Friends of Russian Folklore. Dr. Minyonok graduated from the Philological Department of the Moscow State University, where she received her M.A. degree from in 1988. Her postgraduate studies were at the Gorky Institute of World Literature (Russian Academy of Sciences, 1988-1991). She received her Ph.D. in Folklore (Moscow, 1998) and now serves as Chief Curator of the Folklore Archive and Major Researcher in the Folklore Division of the Gorky Institute. Dr. Minyonok has been a Principal Investigator for countless folklore expeditions and has published over 60 articles about Russian folklore traditions. Most recently, she has led expeditions for the American Friends of Russian folklore in conjunction with the Institute of World Literature at the Russian Academy of Sciences. She was a visiting professor at the University of Kentucky in 2007, as a Fulbright scholar.