«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.


This year's calender winter will finish soon, same our expedition, but for now we are going on with our diary notes.

January 26th: bad weather have last for several days: air temperature is -20ºС, a strong wind and snowdrift (tanzer''). Albina was sewing with her hand sewing machine, Alexandra made over Alexander clothes's hood. Yamal's different areas are knows by their own cuts of Nenets clothing, also hoods are different (people call them "shapkas" in tundra). Alexander's malitsa hood was initially made wrong, so his forhear was open the whole time, and it had to be corrected. We hoped the weather would be better next day so we all would move south and cross Yuribei river. 

The oldest and the youngest are watching a movie: 

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Alexandra while re-sewing the hood:

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Albina is sewing a bed-curtain while Kostya, Pedava and Semyon are watching the movie. Lapa the god is resting nearby.

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On January 27th as usual for a kaslaniye day, everybody woke up at 5am, boiled water for tea and filled thermos bottles, drunk tea - and just started to move thinfs our of the chum, when Kostya decided to not move forward this day. It was a very smart decision: two hours later there was a nasty turn in the weather and a snowstorm has began. If - like in November and December - we would have to hurry to another place rich on reindeer lichen, we would move even at snowstorm. But this time there wes no need for hurry, it was just a conventional moving to another winter camp's place (Kostya and Albina have said many times before, that it's just boring to stay on the same place for a month), where conditional are good for both people and animals. 

A tundra resident has to be sensitive to the weather's changes - in the end it is what makes a kaslaniye successfull or not. Successfull here means not only a subjective feeling of the comfort, but even more an arrival at the planned place. When there is a snowstorm, all preparation processes become slower, riding bulls run uneasy and snow gets everywhere into the things. During this expedition's year we tried to fixate the weather signalments mentioned by Kostya or Albina. For example is reindeers turn heads against the wind, it means that a snowstorm would begin soon. If half-year-old bull "barks" (make the same noise as in summer) - it's also a sign for a snowstorm coming soon. Alter abundant snowfall there would be a snowstorm - wind kind of has to remove all the snow again. If snow is rising up when one remove it from the chum cover - again a snowstorm would come. If a stove's chimney is "crying" (there are water driops), one also would expect a snowstorm (had), but a warm one this time. 

On January 28th we arrived ar our 56th encampment's palce:  N 69º00'55,5'' E 069º56'24,0'', linear distance from the last place – 1,7 kms. This day in the morning we decided to move no matter what and woke up at 5 am. For the first time since last April we moved with Kostya's parents. It meant that three yuhuna (nartas with bed stuff) had to be collected: one for each Albina, Alexandra and Mamanka. When these nartas were ready packed, the wind become stronger and a snowdrift was to see again. As usual after a longer stay it needed a longer time to collect things. Also bulls didn't work for several weeks, and even didn't want to enter the coral. Then finalle we takled up the bulls, it was already the late afternoon. Kostya decided to ride for a short distance and sellte down the chum.  

We moved with four argishes. First one was Kostya's argish, then Nache on his light narta, after him - argish of Kostya's mother and then Alexandra and Alexander, who led Albina's argish. Albina rode a snowbike behind the herd. This time different was not only the number of nartas, but also nartas in women's argishes. Before syabu nartas (so colled "unclean" nartas with bed-curtain, floor mats huners, women's footwear and so on) and nutos (narta with chum sticks of one halp of the chum) were connected to Alexandra's argish, but now they were connecte to one of Mamanka. Alexandra led only freight nartas and nartas with the fell chum covers.  

Because of a strong snowdrift turning from time to time to a real snowstorm, the herd moved very slowly. We've done less than 2 kms, and decided to stand the chum although we haven't reach Yuribei river. Each time after kaslaniye we montage the chum differently. THe best way is when the weather is good, and it isn't dark outside yet. But the wind could also be favorable - is helps to put on the chum cover (same as sails on the ship). If it's windy day, one out the cover first on the downwind side of the chum - to protect from the wind the other side. This day it was by far the hardest time we had to montage the chum. It was a strong tanzer, it was getting dark and everybody was very tired - so Kostya suggested to not move the next day and recover our forces. 

January 29th - February 4th: 

We were going to stay for just one day, but weather conditions have changed our plans. A strong wind blowed for several days, with a snowdrift - but the sky was clear all the time, and clouds didn't block the sun. On January 31st a severe snowstorm came, and suddenly the sky was fully clouded. Kostya didn't worry much - after checking the herd on his snowmobile he reskuzed that reindeer lichen on the spot is enough for minimum a week. On February 2nd the air temperature suddenly have risen to -6ºС and it began to snow. Kostya, Albina and Alexander went to Ustj-Yuribey factory to order bread. They realized though that the backery didn't work there, so the brought some sweets for evening tes - a box of cookies and some sweek condensed mild. We we close to finish our bread stock and took our Mamanka's sack with dry bread. In the evening Albina's brother Hanuta came with the mother. They were on the way to Panayevsk town to get some paperwork done, and stayed over night in our chum.  

On February 4th we were going to move again and as usual woke up at 5am. But Kostya didn't approve the weather - it was a strong wind with snow, so he called off the kaslaniye to try again the next day. 

Serotetto family's herd: 

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A riding bull near so called trunk-narta. Serptetto family posesses several such nartas, almost all made by Nache (except of "lutsa trunk" - Russian trunk, purchased in Yar-Sale). One put in the trunk-narta the food supply for the next days' use - this is convenient for a chum hostess - no need to open freight nartas. All men have their special trunk-narta with working tools, details of nartas and other useful things. 

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Alexander with two avkas, both called Padvy ("spotted"):

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Kostya making a runner of a narta:

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Two avakas: Padvy ("spotted") and Pariseko ("blakish"):  

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On February 5th we arrived at our 57th camp place:N 68º51'34,5'' E 069º50'29,0'', linear distance from the last camp - 17,8 kms. For us it was probably the most comfortable kaslanye one can imagine in Yamal. It was a warm, windless morning without snow fall. Nache and Mamanka have forseen the change of the weather, but it didn't happen. We picked riding bulls very fast, so at 1pm all argishes were already on the way - we had a long ride ahead of us. After 7 kms ride we crossed Yurivey river. Nothing special happened during this time moving, although the relief is quite uneven in this area. Couple of times Kostya first tried a going down the hill in this argish and then showed a better way to other argishes. We built the chum in the dark, but it was a special mood this time - at least is was our last kaslaniye. So we finished the circle - this time's camp place is just 3 kms away from the one we started our year in the tundra last April.

February 6th: we'll stay at this place for two months, practically till the ent of our expedition. But it's boring to stay so long at the same place, so if Kostya in the end would decide to move north to Yasavey river, we joyfully would join his family again. There is 18,5 kms now till the Yuribei railway station, and about 230 kms is the linear distance till Yar-Sale. Quite close to our thum there is a winter road Labytnangi-Seyaha, which is not operating properly since the middle of winter: the road is not cleaned, there are no directing marks. We can only pity poor brothers drivers, who - so the rumors - are under control by navigating equipment now. A driver isn't allowed to move on the winter road longer than 4 hours, then he has to rest for 2 hours - and if there will be violation of this order, one will be fined. Anyway trucks are passing our chum at day and at night (2-6 trucks a day), and Kostya and Albina often laugh about how clever would be to open a tearoom or a barbecue for the drivers. 

There is a winter road Labytnangi-Seyaha 100 meters away from our chum:  

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The herd stays mostly close to the chum. Animals can gore nartas with their horns, so we have to be carefull by packing the things, especially remove all strings - a reindeer can easily pull one, tangle in the horns or even move a light narta away. Kostya layed down several big salt cubes for reindeers. This day we picked one animal for aibat (eating fresh meat), and then Kostya and Alexander went to the railway station to collect some firewood and order bread in the cantine. 

Nache making horey (a stick to speed the bulls):

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Kostya and his snowmobile:  

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A lantern outside of the chum:

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Ikcha (from the Nenenets "ik" neck - so one can name a dog or other animal with a spot on the neck of different color). Ikcha was born and grew up in Kostya's parent chum. 

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Pariseko with Albina and Kostya in the background:  

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Kosya and Albina leaving:

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February 08-11th:

On Febriary 8th the air temperature dropped down to -28ºС. If there is no wind, such a cold is easy to bear. In the evening the men went to pick up bread they've ordered before. On the way back the snowmobile got an unexpected accident. The fuel control panel showed half a tank, but really there was no fuel at all. Kostya and Alexander left the snowmobile and walked for 10 kilometers in the dark until they reached the chum. We waited for them with a turned-on lantern, warm stove and tea. Next day the men picked four avkas and rode to the snowmobile with gazoline and hot water in the thermoses - when the air temperature is coming close to -30ºС, the engine isn't that easy to start, so one can pour some hot water into collector. Kostya came back with 100 loafes of bread on his snowmobile. Alexander returned to the chum on the team, having buch pleasure and feeling of danger - unlike the morning slow ride on the way back the bull rushed on the full speed. 

Alexander's team:

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On February 11th Mamanka and Nache left by train to Salekhard, and from there - to Yar-Sale town. For the last several years during cold winter times Kostya's parents live in town in more comfortable conditions. They also took with them these diary notes...

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