«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.


With this post we'd like to begin publishing our notes about one week travel along Mordy-Yaha river. This post can count as a preview. 

The trip we are going to talk about was organized with initiative and support of Yamal region public movement of Northern native minorities "Yamal", and we are sicerely thank it's leaders for help. During the trip we planned to visit the industrial town Bovanenkovo, sacred place Parne-Sale, Mordy-Yaha river's estuary and fishedmen's village Morra-Sale. These locations were in the past already visited and studied by our colleges, also the aspect of intercommunitation between reindeer herders and rotarion workes from the gas field town. What made this trip special, it's that this time two locals were guiding us, Pupta and Hanuta (brothers of Albina Serotetto, our chum's hostess), the young Nenets fishedmen born in Morra-Sale, who have lived here for their whole life and know all details of local social and economic circumstances.

Initially we were planning to start in the beginning of July. But after the brothers have heard (locals do not need any phone connection to pass the news) that our chums had already crossed Mordy-Yaha river, they immediately came to see us. They told that there was a pause in their schedule, so why do not start at once?   

Kostya and Albina let us go without any trouble, they jsut had to rearrange our nartas. So, on June 16th then all three families from our group were getting ready to one more kaslanie, we packed our staff, packed also our yuhuna narta (with bed staff and some essential belongings, which are transported to chum during the stops) and took to the road. On the way back we were planning to bring to our tundra family some very popular gifts: first of all - freshly backed bread, then gasoline and tobacco, and possibly also some sweets, candies and fresh vegetables.

Our main transport during these months are reindeers. For some change now travelled by motor boat. Distance between our chum to Bovanenkovo was about 40 km, and after that we had to make more that 150 km along Mordy-Yaha river. Unfortunately we didn't film all beautiful landscapes on the way to Bovanenkovo: wind was too strong, and we didn't rist to take out our cameras. But we suredy have noticed that in the middle and lower flow Mosdy-Yaha river is a wide river with many curves. 

Our first stop was an abandoned trading station Neruta in the Neruta-Yaha river estuary (Neruta-Yaha is the rightside feeder of Mordy-Yaha river) : N  69º51'32,7'' E 068º52'43,2''. Now the former trading station looks more like a pile of rusty construction rubbish and could serve as a decent background for another anti-utopy movie or suspenser. 

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The trading station was built in 1990ies and was funtioning for just two years. Reindeer herders bought here food, could order freshly baked bread in the backery, sold horns, velvet antlers, fish and meat. As an inhabitant of a nearby chum later explained to us, the station was closed because of poor quality of houses (built for living and working purposes) and other equipment. 

Alexandra, Pupta and Hanuta: 

(please press "Читать полностью")


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After Neruta we've visited chum of Valery Hudi: N  70º00'59,8'' E 068º47'29,4''. Here we could observe example of so called "constant place chum": Valery does not have reindeers, so he can live at one plave for the whole year. He lives on fishing in Mordy-Yaha river and nearby lakes. 

Pupta and Valery Hudi:

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In the evening we finally arrived in Bovanenkovo, getting a bit lower in Mosdy-Yaha river to the plave where the brothers are fishing (and it's what they are living on). Here they have buit a cotton-canvas tent, where we've stayed for the night.

Pupta and Hanuta's fishing spot: 

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Bovanenkovo town's view:

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For those who are interested in everyday details and food ration of the brothers, we'll just note, that Pupta and Hanuta (otherwise called Rustam and Yury) are living very ascetic life even compared to reindeer herders. In the evening we've eaten boiled broad whitefish (without salt - yong bachelors don't have and use it al all), and in the morning there was just a cup of tea. One of Hanuta's jokes is that he could not cook anything but boiled fish and instant noodles. In the lunch time brothers are usually going to the canteen in Bovanenkovo, at least during this time of the year. 

Industrial town Bovanenkovo was bould to support one of the biggest gas fields in Yamal (and even in Russia), which is exploited by Gasprom company. Construction works here have began in 1970ies, but after dissolution of USSR building works here were stopped untin the beginning of 2000-ies. Then the whole complex wa built very fast at the huge area: rig derricks, carriers, the town itself with living facilities for the gas field workers and the airport.  From the Obskaya railway station to Bovanenkovo one can travel by train: a special way 595 km long was constructed to support the gas field, to transport workers and different cargos. We will describe this railway and our experiences with is separately some time. 

Airport of Bovanenkovo: 

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Karskaya station: 

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One of the rig derricks:

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The areas where now industrial object are places, traditionally is Nenets reindeer herders' moving areas. Every year two herders state brigades and some of the private reindeer herder are moving through Bovanenkovo town. Workers normally stop all activities which can dusturb the movement of herds. This year though because of early spring, weak reindeers and maybe for some other reasons these brigades won't reach Bovanenkovo and will stay in Southern areas. 

Lately Bovanenkovo has became an econimic center of the "left North"'s reindeer herders and fishermen. Nearby fishermen as well as reindeer herders are coming to the town to sell fish to rotation workers and buy some gasoline and food. We've explored places there tundra inhabitants are intercommunicating with the locals: shops (there are three shops in Bovanenkovo), canteen, medical station and others. 

On June 17th 2015 in the moring we arrived by boat to the Karskaya station (last station of the railway we've mentioned before), where Bovanenkovo airport's director picked us up. Anton Pavlovitch is a good friend of Pupta and Hanuta. Later this day we were invited by him to visit a steam sauna in the port, and is was soooo good to take a bath finally:)

We are waiting for a car at Karskaya station: 

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Bovanenkovo landing pier. Here you can see a ferry on Seyaha river instead of bridge:  

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Anton Pavlovitch took us to the main living complex of the town: besides dormitories there are a canteen, a snack bar, a shop, a medical station, a gym, and - especially important for us - an ATM. 

The main living complex of Bovanenkovo town:

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Not far from the landing pier there is an expedition station of Saint-Petersburg State hydrology institure. We were briught there by the brothers. The scientists make friends with our fishermen, and are good neighbors. Of course we've used this chance to talk to fellows countrymen, and at the end stayed over night in their house.  

Hanuta was asked by one of hydrologist to measure the water level: 

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On June 18th and 19th Alexandra used a chance to talk to Bovanenkovo rotation workers. The local Internet (very slow and extremely expensive allowed to us to send some updates about our trip to the mainland.  

To be continued. 

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