«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.


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The whole time since our last report we've spent at the same place, where we got on November 14th. The herd ran on not far from the chum, and "domesticated" reindeers - avkas - walked close by the the chum and men. 

These days Kostya and Albina continued to collect their reindeers from other herds. Kostya left for our summer neighbors, taking several riding bulls with him. He wanted to change them for young bulls from Yaroslav's herd. Old bulls will go to Yuribey slaughtery. This kind of change is a usual way to trade reindeers among reindeer herders. 

The slaughteries of meat-processing factory "Yamal reindeers" in Yar-Sale, Syo-Yaha and at Payuta and Yuribey railway stations started their functioning in October.  "Yamal reindeers" cooperates directly with former state farms, and also buys meat from private reindeer herders. They can sell meat only if they entered the union of herders - if not, they have to find a way to sell mear through relatives or friends. 

In 2015 one kilogramm of meat's price was 180-200 Rubles, so one reindeer would cost about 7-10 thousands Rubles. Not all the herders sell their reindeers' meat this way. Kostya for example, for last three years haven't sell the meat (after severe loss of the hers in 2013). As fas as we can calculate, private herders sell not more than 10% of  the herd, and there is no risk for the herders who have more than 400-500 reindeers. 

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November 18-19th: the big coral 

After yerkolava in the morning Kostya, Albina and Alexander left for a big coral  Хариума ва'' (Hariuma va) at the Hariuma-Yaha river. In Yamal peninsula there are several big stationary corals for big herds. Kostya same as our summer neighbors had to divide the herds and collect their reindeers before going to Yuribei slaughtery. Kostya, Albina and Alexander took two nartas and had many reindeers with them - they wanted to come back again on three nartas. Alexandra stayed only adult with the children in the chum.  

The big coral's location was in about 18 kms distance from our chum. Then Kostya, Albina and Alexander arrived there, there were already our summer neighbors: Savoli Podovitch Hudi with his wife and son Kostya, Yaroslav Hudi, Myangcha Serotetto, Alexey Podovitch Hudi with his wife and 14 years old son Anihasava (Rako), Heng Hudi with his son Ruslan and son-in-law Igor, Georgu Aibaewitch (Albina's uncle Gosha). 

«Parking lot» near the big coral:

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If you are our constant follower, you should remember our report about construction of a coral (ва''): herders in Yamal make their corals for yerkolava of nartas and cage net. Bit stationary corals are constructed differently. This one -  Хариума ва'' - is built of metal sections with net, and its total surface is about   150х200 m.

Its central part makes so called "main coral" - here comes the whole herd first - in our case there were about 1500 reindeers.  Then part of the herd goes to the first "pre-cage" (200-300 reindeers), after that - to the second pre-cage (100-150 reindeers). After these two steps 30-50 reindeer are led to so calles "working space" - rather small space (similar to the chum's space). Here herders are picking the animals - and then led them to several doors leading to different rooms of the coral. To there rooms the herders took reindeers belonging to Alexey Podovitch Hudi, Heng Hudi, Kostya Hudi and Yaroslav Hudi. And there is also so called "slaughter room" where one took all reindeers wich have to to to slaughtery, and also reindeer of our Kostya Serotetto. After the work in coral they shold go back to Kostya's herd. 

 Women at the coral's doors:

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In the coral's working space:

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Alexey Podovitch Hudi and his son Anihasava (Rako) guarding the coral's doors: 

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Anihasava (Rako) Hudi - this picture was taken in April 2015. Everybody in tundra knows this 14 years old boy by the nickname Rako. He left the school and returned to tundra living. He knows all reindeer from his father's herd by face and is really good at using lasso.  


Light day is very short now in Yamal, at about 16 pm it is already dark ourside. The herders working in the big coral were ready - they used a generator, so they could continue working until late in the evening.

How do they recognize their reindeers? As we explaned earlier, every reindeer is marked with an owner's mark - pidtemya (пидте''мя)  – on the side and with an ear's mark. Pidtemya isn't made as a scar - it's just the fur's hairs cut in a special way, there is no harm for an aminal's skin. This mark goes additionaly to an ear's mark, and are very important for recognizing the reindeers, especially if there were changed with other owner's animals and there were no chance to change the ear's marks. Before taking reindeers from the "working room" the herders marked every reindeer anew or maked aminals going to slaughtery with a pidtemya.

Marks examples (пидте'мя):


This evening Kostya, Albina and Alexander didn't succed to collect all the reindeers, so the animals atayed in the "slaughtery room" till the next morning.  

In the night one unpleasant incident happened - a riding reindeer from Albina's narta died. Usually one leave reindeers teamed in the narta go freely with the herd at night, and when needed - pick them again. But if one plans to go further early morning, one don't let the riding reindeers go, leave them roped on the long rope near the long stick or at the narta. Neva Inya (ӈэва' иня, a rope going to the first reindeer's head and serving as a conducting tool, is usually roped to the central "leg" of a narta. That night a reindeer from the right side set itself free and because of its movement the first one occured to go below the narta and died. Kostya and Albina both were really sad, but there was no other way but rope the reindeers diffferently and go back to coral on two nartas. There they collected 40 reindeers belonging to Kostya's herd and led them back to the chum.  

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