Just like other natives of Siberia, the common social problems faced by Dolgans include alcoholism, poverty and unemployment. The terms dolghan and dulghun have been used to describe the Dolgan people. These terms can be interpreted to mean ‘people who live in the middle reaches of the river.’ Most Dolgans live in central Siberia and can also be found in Kheta, Dudypta and Khatanga Rivers. Most of these areas have a harsh climate. The Dolgans are renown for their Arctic culture, which was recognized in the 19th century. Even though most Dolgan’s were animistic in the past, most of them have now converted to the Russian Orthodox Christianity. The older generation though have stuck to their traditional beliefs.
The Dolgan language is part of the Turkic family language. Even though it was once classified as part of the Yakut dialect it is now recognized as a distinct language. Dolgan is subdivided into 4 subgroups: eastern, central, western and Popigai Dolgan, which is a more recent subgroup. All these dialects are mutually intelligible. Most Dolgans can speak Russian fluently. They can also speak Evenki and Nganasan. There was no written form of Dolgan until 1973 when the first book written in Dolgan was published using the Yakut alphabet. Dolgan is taught in lower school grades in Siberia. Dolgan was incorporated into the schools syllabus in the 1990s.
The traditional life of the Dolgans is a combination of many factors. This includes traditional hunting and breeding methods. This included reindeer breeding, trapping of wild animals and fishing. Most Dolgans currently live in settlements, which consists of a few hundred people who live in small huts which are insulated using reindeer skin. They use charcoal stoves to keep warm during cold seasons. The traditional foods preferred by most Dolgans includes fish,berries, bread, reindeer, ducks and geese. You can also find a number of other foods which are common in Russia being sold in the shops. During winter, reindeers are used to pull sleighs. Snowmobiles have now been incorporated into their transportation modes and is commonly used among herders. Boats, some of which are home made while others are factory manufactured, are commonly used during summer.