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Kuivajärvi and Hietajärvi

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Poetry collecting in Uhtua
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Audio sample

UhtuaThroughout recorded history, Uhtua has been the largest village in Viena and the region's economic center, although in the early 1800s it was divided administratively at the Uhutjoki River into the parishes of Vuokkiniemi and Paanajärvi. Later, Uhtua and its neighboring villages became a municipality.

When the Soviet Union was formed, Uhtua became a district center, although the borders of that district have varied according to the different political trends. The district was given the name "Kalevala" to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of the epic. When the infamous policy of concentration began, which led to the liquidation of many villages, the districts of Kalevala and Kiesting were combined with the district of Kemi to create a new, large and supposedly "efficient" administrative unit.

For Uhtua, this change, which occurred in 1961, meant the loss of its name: with the Kalevala district now gone, the village - against the wishes of its inhabitants - was renamed "Kalevala" so that the name of the epic would somehow remain visible.

The new, larger district did not last very long, and the present districts of Kemi, Kalevala and Louhi were created in Viena. Yet, the politicians did not have the courage to restore the "villages without perspective" which had been destroyed. Uhtua was not even given its original name back.

When construction began on the mine and industrial complex in Kostomuksha and the housing these necessitated, the area was still part of the Kalevala district. However, when the population of Kostomuksha reached 10,000 in 1983, and it received its city charter, the city and its environs were detached from the Kalevala district to become an administrative unit of its own. In 1988, the area administered by the Vuokkiniemi village council was annexed to the city, reducing the size of the Kalevala district even further.

At the beginning of the 1990s, the Kalevala district included the following villages and settlements: Kalevala (Uhtua), Vuonninen, Jyskyjärvi, Jyvöälahti, Kepa, Kuusiniemi, Luusalmi, Borovoi and Uusi Jyskyjärvi.

In Lönnrot's time, Uhtua had 80 houses. The census of 1905 recorded 204 houses and 1,206 inhabitants in the village.

In the days when poetry collectors frequented the area, Uhtua was divided into four parts: Likopää, the wealthiest part of the village, snaked along the shore of Lake Kuittijärvi; Ryhjä, located between Likopää and the Uhutjoki River, was the site of an old tšasouna and church; Miitkala, a settlement on the other side of the river; and Lamminpohja, located on the river at one of its wide, quiet stretches. Later additions to the village are Issakkala, built between Lamminpohja and Miitkala, and Huponsuo, an area which grew considerably.

At present, the village of Uhtua has some 5,000 inhabitants (5,230 according to the 1989 census). Karelians are now in the minority (2,360, or 45.1%) in the administrative center of their national district, a region where before the War one rarely heard any Russian spoken. Now Russian is the everyday language, with Karelian being used only among members of the older generation who are original inhabitants of the region.


Poetry collecting in Uhtua
What to see
Audio sample