Heritage of Siberia’s Latvians captured on CD, DVD collection

Latvian descendants living in Siberia, some of whose ancestors first moved to the region two centuries ago, have managed to preserve their ethnic identity in various degrees. A new compact disc and DVD collection, Sibīrijas latviešu dziesmas, captures some important expressions of that identity: songs, dances and games.

Released in June by the Rīga-based recording company Upe tuviem un tāliem, the collection includes 52 songs on the CD and about 120 tracks on the DVD. The recordings come from 16 different Latvian villages. Soem were collected recently, but others were recorded some 20 years ago.

The first to explore the Latvian presence in Siberia were Ingvars Leitis and Uldis Briedis, who traveled by bicycle to region in 1975, Upe tuviem and tāliem director Iveta Mielava explained in a press release. Since that time a number of teachers, journalists, ministers, researchers and students have visited the area, both to learn about the history of Siberia’s Latvians, as well as to work with them to maintain their heritage.

Although some of the Siberian Latvians have repatriated, most will remain in their new homeland, Mielava said, “because their fatherland Latvia is too far, different and cool.”

Release of Sibīrijas latviešu dziesmas was supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation, while a donation from LSF Holdings is providing for distribution of the recording to Latvians in Siberia.

Sibīrijas latviešu dziesmas

Sibīrijas latviešu dziesmas includes recordings of dozens of songs, dances and games familiar to Latvian descendants in Siberia.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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