«True people» (Nenei nenecha) – self-name of Nenets, the indigenous people of the Yamal peninsula, and the name of the complex 2015–2016 ethnographic expedition. Project participants and the visitors of the resource will be the part of the reindeer herders's family during the whole year just to «dive» in the casual life of the modern XXI century nomads.


Schoolchildren of Serotetto family spent all holidays in the chum. Two years in a row parents didn't take them home from the boarding school - it's because the chum (same as now) stood quite far away from the town. All children stay at school for fall vacation, but in winter some of them go home with their parents by snowmobile, or - less often - by train. These days the children had rest, played a lot outsite of the chum, rode little nartas, watched cartoons and movies. During several evenings we've finished watching all episodes of "Star Wars", including screen copy of the brand new seventh episode. All people in the chum - from little Pedava to Mamanyka and Nache - watched intergalaxy adventures. Senior parents of Kostya vividly discussed the characters, giving them the Nenets nicknames. Guess whom did they call Hariko (Eared), Tartsavey (Woolly) or Paridena Nyleka (Black Villian)? But theier special love gained they "Colombo vesako" - we've watched all episodes we had.    

"Starwars"'new fans:

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On January 1st Kostya and Albina left for Bovarenkovo together with the guests from Mordy-Yaha. The ganozine for the expedition's needs was provided by Yamal regional civic movement of indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North "Yamal" on the base of "Urengoygidromehanizatsiya", we sincerely appreciate this help. Kostya and Albina were away for 4 days because of bed weather conditions. On the board of Kara Sea the temperature rose to -1°C. In our chum's latitude first came a snowstorm, and them the temperature reached -6-10°C. 

On January 4th Kostya and Albina came back. Next day the temperature dropped to -26°C, and reindeers came near the chum. After last yerkolava around New Year Kostya led the herd to 1,5-2 kms distance from the chum and animals were not in sight - but now all they one by one came near the camp. Usually reindeers come near people's living area in search of urine - on the reindeer lichen's diet animals are lack of salt. Kostya on his snowmobile went to the rest of the herd and checked wheather some animals splitted or not. Albina led the reindeers came near the chum back to the main herd.   

Next several days the outside temperature stayed at -25/-30°C level. If there is no wind, one can easily survive this cold. Lower temperatures still didn't happen, which was good for both people and reindeers, but we don't celebrate just yet - February is still ahead of us.  

On January 11th Kostya brought the schoolchildren and Albina to the railway station, so they could enter the first January train heading Obskaya station. Alexander came with them, and on the way back took back to chum firewood and the bread we ordered - 60 loafes. 

Kostya and Albina's children (right to left): Hasavako (7 y.o., 1 grade), Edeyko (9 y.o., 2 grade), Yana (12 y.o., 4 grade), Pedava (4 y.o.), Olya (10 y.o., 3 grade), Semyon (5 y.o.).

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Before bringing schoolchildren back to scool: 

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In the evenving came Radik (Kostya's elder brother), Denis (husband of Albina's sister) and his brother Eugene, know in tundra under his nickname Panyok. The nickname was given to him by his younger siblings. In tundra it is usual, that one keep for long a nickname given long ago by someone of younger generation. Radik with his family moved long ago to Yar-Sale town - now he came to remove his chum and pack all the stuff to nartas - the family won't come back to tundra for several months. We are preparing to move further with the herd when Albina will be back. Radik's nartas will "wait" for his return. Denis and Panyok had tea in our chum and went to the parents' chum, Radik stayed with us for several days. 

January 13-14th: Radik stayed with parents, Semyon and Pedava, and three of us left for so calles "the 13th district" - so named themselves people living not far from the 13th railway passing place. Kostya made a curve on the way to check reindeer lichen and choose a place for our next camp. He stopped his snowmobile and digged snow with a wooden blade - nyada'yangats -  male yangats. There is also so calles female yangats - it is used to remove snow from winter shoes - kisy - and overclothes while entering a chum. Kostya explained that a place rich on reindeer lichen one usually searches going by foot - a reindeer herder feels snow surface under his feet and feels where is better to dig. A result of Kostya's searching company was a moving strategy for the next several months. We will move south for a while, when turn again to the north to Yasavey river, when will stay over winter according to Kostya's initial plan. This strategy will allowed Kostya in spring, then other reindeer herders move north, be ahead of them all - and as soon as possible, possibly on ice, cross Mordy-Yaha river in its upper stream.

Alexandra wearing neney sava - traditional Nenets hat:  

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Alexandra in her "dress uniform" - warm yagushka, kisy and headwear:  

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Kostya is checkin reindeer lichen with his wooden blade nyada yangats - male yangats:  

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The Sun now is rising fully over horizon, and days became longer. We alway wonder, how in our cultere has developed a myth about endless polar night. Who first started it? 

Middle Yanuar's midday:

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Kostya on the railway brigde, Obskaya-Karskaya railway (Bovanenkovo):

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In the 13th district, 50 kms south from us, there are 5 camps, all in 5-7 kms distance one from another. These places' inhabitans all are people we know. Their herds have mixed long ago, so the herders will buld a coral to divide herds in spring. This area is very popular among reindeer herders because it's rich on reindeer lichen. Also Lidino factory  (trading post named after its owner Lidiya Vasilievna) and lakes rich on fish are very close from here. Reindeer herders' families will stay here till spring, then they are going to move north. Traditional courtesy made Kostya to stop at each camp to greet the people and exchange news. Our target was Kostya Hudi's chum, but on the way we also stopped in Panyok's chum to drink tea. The 13th district's inhabitants have to make a long way to pick firewood from Yuribey railway station, so they usually use osier-bed (nero) to fire in stoves. They cut the branches and make a big vertikal bolts.

Kostya's snowmobile near a bolt of oser-bed:

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Near the chum of Kostya Savolievitch there is the chum of Yaroslav. But Yaroslav with his family is in the town from the end of December. Usually the Nenets stay in winter alone, but lately, so tundra people say, many people choose to stay with two chums - so one film can go to the town and the neighbors look after dogs and reindeers. 

We were happy to see our summer neighbors again, to chat with grown ups and kids who studied in our nomadic kindergarden. In the evening together with Kostya Hudi we succeed to travel to factory shop, and exchanged horns for gazoline and food. And the a festive feast began - it was so called "old new years"' eve. 

Camp of Kostya and Yarik Hudi, our summer neighbors. Yarik is absent for a long time, and his chum is coverend with snow. Tundra people understand at once, that no one is living here. 

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Nikita Hudi, a little student of our nomadic kindergarden:  

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Puyne and Alexander unloading the sledge: 

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Next day without any rush we went home bringing big pieces of salt for reindeers. Tundra people use salt to feed to reindeers. The usual routine waited for us in the chum: to cut firewood, to bring ice in big bags, to remove snow from the chum, to take food our of nartas, to burn stove, to cook tea and soup, to transfer gazoline and to start generator in the evenings. Days were filled with routine again - without this tundra everyday one can not understand the Nenets life. 

Alexandra and Seryau the dog. Alexander is transporting birch pieces - there is no such kind of birch in tundra - Kostya and Alexander brought firewood from Yuribey railway station: 

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A January morning: 

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On January 16th Telo ("the tallest Nenets"' chum stays 80 kms north from us) with his mother and a nephew came to us to have a tea in our chum. 

On January 18th we dismantled Radik's chum. In spite of the rather warm days (Nenets are saying so, although the usual -25ºС is an average winter temperature in Yamal peninsula), we rarely have a good weather: one day a strong wind come (mertsya), another day a snowstorm (had), and next day - snowdrift (tanzer).

On January 21st we had guests again - Alexey Podovitch Hudi (his chum is in 30 kms distance north from ours) on  snowmobile with his son Mayma. They brought two schoolgirls - Vitalina (2nd grade) and Klara (11th grade) - back to school in Yar-Sale. They were already 10 days late for the next semester, but they couldn't start earlier because of bad weather. This is usual for children of nomadic Nenets - sometimes half of the class is absent in the beginning of the study. 

Radik had to go back to the town. Kostya and him decided to go to Yar-Sale by snowmobile to pick Albina on the way back. 

Vitalina and Klara Hudi, daughters of Alexey Podovitch. They have 250 kms to Yar-Sale ahead of them: 

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After tea in our chum Alexay Podovitch, his son Mayma and daughters Vitalina and Klara continued their way. A rare view in tundra - a "sledge train": one sledge is for passengers, another if fully loaded with freight.  

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On January 24th in the evening Kostya and Albina came back bringing some news and gifts. We were happy to see Albina who was away for 2 weeks. Her return meant also that our first kaslaniye in this year is ahead of us.  

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