«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.



More pictures from the reindeer herdsman's day in Yar-Sale

Here we just want to share with you more pictures from the reindeer herdsman's day in Yar-Sale town, taken on April 5th, 2015. Now we already moved with our nomadic family further , but will be back in Yar-Sale after a while  to make some  additional purchases for our year in tundra. Then we will be able to respond to all your questions and comments, and also tell about beginning of our nomadic life!  

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Yar-Sale reindeer herdsman's day (and other news)

A big event happened yesterday in a small Yamal town of Yar-Salay — reindeer herdsman's day. While in Salekhard it is more of a festival for toursits and officials, in Yar-Sale it is a true festival for the herdsmen and tundra people.

Unfortunately, we didn't catch much of it, since our nomadic host family — Kostya and Albina Serotetto, with whom we will roam the tundra for one year — came after us on sunday, the main day of the event, and so we had to run around the town searching for another reindeer-sledge (we calculated we needed five, when in fact we had stuff for 6) and a lasso.

For those of you who follow our adventures, herdsman's brigade #20, whom we visited a few days ago, won the reindeer-sledge race man competition and got a new snowmobile, while MOP "Panaevskoe" won in a team scoring.

Today, on 6th of April 2015, we set off for tundra, where we begin our year-long migration with a traditional northern nomadic family.


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Visiting reindeer-herdsmen's brigade 20

Toady we had an unexpected visit to the reindeer-herdsmen's brigade #20 together with the YNAR vice-governor's social policy dept. representatives. This brigade has had a functioning nomadic kindergarden group for one year already. While in our expedition we are migrating with private-owning deer-herdsmen (and we will organize a kindergarden group with private nomadic families), it is rather interesting to find out details about how such a kindergarden group functions in an organized brigade. 

There are currently 4 nomadic kindergarden groups in Yamal, ours will be the 5th.

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There were more than 20 representatives of the dept visiting the brigade with us.


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“The True People” ethnographic expedition

Territory: Russian Arctic, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Yamal region, Yamal tundra, approx. 1000 km distance nomadic route.

Dates: March 2015 – April 2016.

Nenei nenecha'' (Nenets “true people”)– self-name of Nenets, the largest of the Indigenous people of the Russian North, Siberia and the Far East. On the Yamal Peninsula Nenets have preserved the large herd reindeer herding – the key to the existence of traditional culture in the modern world. It is important to point that the project participants are agreed with the opinion that “traditional culture” is not static and conserved structure but on contrary – is a living and changing system including all the modern innovations.

In last decades Yamal have become the center of oil and gas producing and the Russian “gateway” to Arctic. Although the indigenous culture of the strategic Russian region remains unknown both in European Russia and in even in Salekhard, the capital of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The image of a reindeer herder often associates with negative stereotypes, it connects with “backwardness” – the approaches that don't correspond to reality.

Unlike the scholars of 19th – beginning of 20th c., modern ethnologists (anthropologists) of Russia comparatively rarely organize expeditions connected with the long-term accommodation within the indigenous communities. Complex research project “The True People”includes the annual staying of the anthropologists in the family of reindeer herders throughout all stages of the whole one year economic cycle of the a nomadic life in Arctic. An important part of the project is the participation in the expedition both sexes researchers, which will allow a more complete fixation of data in Nenets society where male and female “worlds” are strongly divided: each gender has its own role and sets of duties, taboos and cultural practices. 

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New Year 2016

On December 25th Kostya and Alexander went to the railway station to pick up Alexandra, Albina and children who came back home for winter vacation - Yana, Olya, Edeyko and Hasavako. 

Next day, on December 26th, Kostya with Alexander on a snowmobile with sledge went to Yar-Sale (about 250 kms from our camp place). They had to bring back some gazoline (one is not allowed to transport gazoline by train) and various gifts and orders for the New year's eve. They travelled for 2 days - because of snowstorm they had spent a night in the Yapticks' chum near the 13th passing place, 90 kms from our chum. Radik, Sveta and Myangcha left for Yar-Sale on December 18th - in their chum there were only dogs left, and we had to look after them.  

These days our chum's inhabitants spent doing usual tasks: cut firewood, collected ice in the lake, sorted stuff in the nartas. Albina went to check the herd. In the evenings children and Alexandra decorated the chum: cut snowflakes out of paper, made garlands of colored paper, prepared wishing cards and made pictures. 

Kostya and Alexander's road wasn't that easy at all. You might think, it is a lot of snow here in tundra - it's North after all. But it's wrong. The tundra is a huge open space without any trees, so snow don't stay on the ground for long. So now snowstorm ("had"), that lasted for several days, moved all snow south of Yuribey. Tundra looked as in September - broun frozen ground, slightly covered with snow. It's hard and even dangerous to ride snowmobile on this surface, especially hard is's for passengers, who feel all ups and downs. 

The men finished all their tasks in Yar-Sale in one day as planned. On December 29th they started back, and the way was much easier - with a couple of stops in other chums for cup of tea - and in the evening Kostya and Alexander have arrived in our chum. 

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