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Nenets National Okrug: Encyclopedia Arctica 10: Soviet North, Geography and General
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Nenets National Okrug

Form for receipt of article "Nenets National Okrug"
24,500 words Mandel
NENETS National Okrug (Area) , within Arkhangelsk Oblast (qv), lies [: ] in the northeasternmost
corner of the European Arctic between 65°47′ and 69°52′ N., and 43°30′ E.
It is bordered on the east by the Yamalo-Nenets National Okrug (qv), on the south by
the Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (qv) and by the remainder of Arkhangelsk
Oblast, and on the north by the seas and bays of the Arctic Ocean. Administratively,
it is divided into four raions (counties): Amderma (qv), Bolshezemelskaia, Kanin-Timan,
and Lower Pechora. Its territory is 82,800 sq. mi., and the population in 1937
numbered 28,125. It may be estimated to have increased markedly since then to through further
growth of Tthe capital is at Narian-Mar., and the mining town of [: Anderama ] . School pop.
attendance figures for '1949 indicate a population in excess of 32,000, excluding the probability of a large additional, purely adult population in the mines, on the wharves, and in lumbering
Physical Geography . The Nenets National Okrug occupies a coastal zone extending from
southwest to northeast from the Mezen [] Bay Gulf of the White Sea to the Baidaratskaia of
the Kara Sea. In all, the coast is 600 miles in length, and is washed, for most of
its distance - the central portion - by the Barents Sea, which [: ] is broken
into three great gulfs here (Chesh, Pechora and Khaipudyr) by large great peninsulas pro–
jecting northward. In the east, the width of the Okrug from north to south attains
180 miles, but in the west it decreases to 60. However, in this area there is the Kanin here there extends far to the
Peninsula, which extends far to the north. north the Kanin Peninsula, which falls within its bounds. The Okrug lies on the
outer bounds of the Northern Lowland, which underwent marine transgression during the
[: ] Post-Pliocene epoch. Moraine formations [: ] dating from the Ice Age
has have been preserved on the higher spots of the watersheds. Clearly marked terminal
moraines extending from westsouthwest to eastsoutheast between the Pechora and Khaipud–
yr Gulf bear varying various designations, i.e., Tabrov-khoi, Yanei, etc. They attain an alt–
itude of 558 ft. above sea level. In the Malozemelskaia Tundra, however, they attain
656 ft., but on the south of Kanin Peninsula (the so-called Shomokhov Peaks), they
reach only 262 ft.
The lowland is intersected by tectonic ridges at two points. These ridges are
called the Timan and the Pai-khoi. The portion of the Timan Ridge lying within the
bounds of the Nenets National Okrug consists of four parallel ranges, low in altitude
(810 ft. maximum) but rising very sharply from the surrounding plain and separated
by valleys seeming very deep by contrast. [: ] They are flat-topped.
The Pai-khoi falls entirely within the bounds of the Okrug, and contains its highest

Nenets

point, More-pai Mt., 1562 ft. above sea level. The Kanin Stone, a range on the penin–
sula of that name, constitutes a continuation of the Timan Ridge, and reaches a height
of 656 ft. above sea level.
The climate of the Nenets Okrug is the most severe in Europe. The average annual
temperature [: ] at Pustozersk at the mouth of [: ] the Pechora River is 24°F., and varies between an average
of −1°F. in the coldest month and 53.5°F. in the warmest. The most extreme cold on
record there is −48°F., while the greatest heat is 86°F. The climate becomes more
severe as one moves northeastward. The duration of the warm season, i.e., the period
with an average [: ] temperature above freezing each day, varies from 5 1/2 months
in the southwest to four months in the northeast. The summer - the period with an
average temperature each day above 50°F. - is of one-and-one-half month's duration
on the lower Pechora. That being the midway point of the Okrug, geographically, all
climatic conditions are more severe to the east and north of [: ] Pustozersk,
and milder to the west and south. Average annual [: ] precipitation at the point
of observation i [: ] s 14", of which two-thirds occurs during the summer. The snow cover is
thin, with the [: ] formation of permafrost as a result. Shrenk found permafrost
near Pustozersk at depths of from five to 63 ft. beneath the surface. However, in
the Bolshezemelskaia Tundra to the northeast, the layer of permafrost attains a thick–
ness of 100 Ft.
The most important river in the Okrug is the Pechora (qv), which flows through
this territory for 125 miles on the last leg of its journey to the sea. Most of that
distance may be considered to fall within its delta ( a multiplicity of islands and chan–
nels, increasing as the sea is approached). [: ] This is the most thickly best-
populated area, of the Okrug. The river is navigable to ocean-going vessels from the
sea up to Narian-Mar (qv), at which point the navigation season is 143 days, i.e., a
little under five months, in duration. Lumber floated down the river and processed
at Narian Mar is the chief reason for the existence of this new town and the port [: ]
around which it was built, and forms the major article of shipment, while eEquipment
for that industry and supplies for its workers and the town population, as well as
for the Nentsy of the hinterland are the main freights brought here.
<formula> 2145 3861 ﹍ 2145 12870 17160 6435 ﹍ 8281845 </formula>

Nenets N.O.

No other river in the Okrug compares even remotely to the Pechora, but the next
most important is the Indiga, whose [: ] mouths are particularly well suited for
the use of deep sea vessels. The Sula, a tributary of the Pechora, is the third river
in importance. It is planned to link the Sula and Indiga by canal. Lakes are numerous
but small. The largest are called Urdiuzh and Vizhas. The Okrug falls within the
zones of tundra and forest-tundra, except for its southwestern and southern portions,
which lie within the taiga of coniferous forest and marsh. The north of the Kanin Peninsula,
the mainland north of the Sula River west of the Pechora, and the entire territory
east of the Pechora are covered with the [: ] vegetation of the
tundra. These areas are called and Bolshezemelskaia Tundra, Malozemelskaia Tundra, and
Timan Tundra [: ]
[: ] Malozemelskaia Tundra, and Bolshezemelskaia Tundra, respectively. Of forest trees , spruce grow s the farthest north.
Peat bogs up to 16 ft. in thickness are encountered. However, they do not find indus–
trial use, both due to the abundance of wood, and because of the difficulty of dry–
ing peat under the damp conditions of the Arctic.
The fauna of the tundra includes Polar fox, brook trout and [: ] ptarmigan. A
considerable variety of birds nest here during the summer, including geese, ducks,
eider, etc. The taiga is inhabited by the typical denizens of northern forests, and
the rivers are rich in fish.
Economy . The chief occupation of the native Nentsy, who form somewhat less than half
the population, is reindeer-herding. By 1937, 1936 64% of the nomadic families and some 90%
of the settled population had joined collective farms, and the total head of reindeer
had increased from a low of 137,000 in 1932 to 170,000. [: ] A network of veterinary
stations and slaughter corrals has been established, and a scientific research sta–
tion for inquiry into the problems of [: ] reindeer stock-farming set up
in Narian-Mar. The tundra has been surveyed and divided into sections, each assigned
to the use of a given collective or group thereof, thus ending the open-range grazing
which had misused the resources of reindeer-moss. Some four-fifths of the reindeer are
in the Bolshezemelskaia Tundra, i.e., east of the Pechora. Reindeer meat is, of course,
the chief item of food of the Nentsy, while the hides are chipped out to the suede chamois
factory at Ust-Tsylma in the neighboring [: ] Komi A.S.S.R. (qv).

Nenets N.O.

Second in importance to the Nentsy is fishing. The catch has been rising rapidly,
i.e., from 2,200 tons in 1933 to 4,800 in 1937. Almost every Nenets family engages
in fishing to a greater or lesser degree, for its own use. Commercial fishing is con–
ducted in the Lower Pechora and Kanin-Timan areas, i.e., not in the eastern tundra
and its adjacent waters. These fisheries take salmon (350 tons in 1936), whitefish,
herring, etc. Canneries were built in 1933 in the settlements of Shoina and Indiga.
Two government stations for the renting of powered fishing equipment to fishermen's
cooperatives have been established. Seals and white whales are hunted commercially
along the coast. A shipyard builds fishing vessels at Narian-Mar.
Fur trapping also occupies an important place in the economy of the Okrug.
Polar fox, ermine and red fox are the chief animals sought. The value of the catch
increased from 494,000 rubles in 1932 to 1,375,000 in 1937.
The lumber industry is of rapidly increasing importance. The single sawmill
at the site of present-day Narian-Mar (Red City) burned in the early ′20s. It was
rebuilt in 1923-4. In 1933 it sawed 103,000 cubic meters of wood, and in 1936,
127,000.
Coal mining, utilizing the [: ] resources of the major field centered
at Vorkuta (qv) just outside the Nenets National Okrug, but projecting into it, in–
creased from a yield of 5,600 tons in 1933 to 150,000 tons in 1936. Fluorite mining
at Amderma, beginning with 4,000 tons in 1934, had reached 15,000 tons in 1936, and was planned to
attain 18,000 in 1942.
Agriculture , [: ] Livestock farming is the chief form of settled
agriculture, and is pursued primarily by the Pomors - Russian fishermen-farmers
who have dwellt on the shores of the European Arctic for at least 400 years. It is centered
in the Pechora delta country, along the mouths of the rivers of Kanin Peninsula, and
at Amderma, where it is an innovation for the purpose of providing milk dairy pro–
ducts and meat to the miners. and their families. In [: ] 1937 there were 4,123 head
of cattle, 1,365 horses and 3,972 sheep in the Okrug. [: ] Several
small dairy plants have been built along the lower reaches of the Pechora. Since
1934 [: ] truck-farming has also been practised in the Okrug, de–
spite the belief previously held that this was impossible. In 1935 a crop of ten

Nenets N.O.

tons of potatoes, turnips and cabbage was harvested from the garden plot established
at the Narian-Mar sawmill. Barley and oats were [: ] successfully grown, by means of exceedingly
early sowing of [: ] most hardy varieties, [: ] prior to World War II, [: ] but it was not
until 1947 that experiments with rye were successful. Prior to 1934 wild onions were
the only vegetable known.
Transport . The most important media for bulk transport are the Pechora River for
inland freights, and the sea for communication with rail-served ports - Arkhangelsk
primarily. The port of Narian-Mar, meeting point for river and ocean traffic,
handled 61,000 tons of freight in 1932 and 146,000 in 1937, of which 87,000 tons
[: ] was incoming and 59,000 tons, outgoing. The outgoing tonnage
consisted primarily of lumber and coal, while equipment for these industries, for
freight-handling facilities, housing, schools and the like, represented the incoming
freights. Away from the waterways the sole means of transport is by reindeer. The
longest such trail extends for more than 500 miles, and links Narian Mar and Khoseda–
Khard Sard to the central tundra. [: ] In 1947 mail was delivered along it thrice weekly.
There is year-round scheduled air freight and passenger service between Narian-Mar
and Moscow, via Mezen, Arkhangelsk and Vologda, while bush flying in the provides
service to whatever other points require it. Frozen fish is flown out in winter. The growth in the economy of the Okrug
is indicated by a rise in the trade turnover from 9,000,000 rubles in 1932 to
30,000,000 in 1937, and in the Okrug budget from 1,209,000 rubles in 1932 to 7,353,000
in 1937, the bulk of which represents investment and subsidy from Moscow. The eastern
tundra now bids fair to outstrip the Pechora River delta as the most populated and
economically developed area, for it has access to rail, just across the Okrug border
in the Komi ASSR since the building of the line to Vorkuta in 1941. Moreover, there
is sound reason to suppose that that line will be carried northward to the Arctic
coast at or near Amderma, through the Nenets National Okrug, in the near future. The distance
is only 150 miles, but the terrain is that of the Pai-khoi Mts. (up to 1,500 ft.).
The chief problem is that of selecting the most suitable location for a port.
History . The first people known to inhabit this territory in historical times have
come down to us under the name of Yugra or Chud with whom the ventursome merchants of Lord
Great Novgorod came into contact "probably about the time of the First Crusade (1096)
and certainly before the Second (1147)" according to Prof. Be a zley of the University

40 [: Kenky of No.X. in 193?]

Nenets N.O.

Pre-History and History . Archeological expeditions since 1939 have found flint arrow–
heads , and ornamented ceramic fragments [: ] dating from the beginning of the Second Millenium
B.C., at three points in the present Nenets National Okrug. All three are in localities
which are inhabited today and have been during the 400 to 900 years of written
history of this area. The presumption logically follows that they have been inhabited
more or less without interruption since the time of these archeological finds. The
first finds, in 1939, were made in [: ] an area of the open
tundra centered at 67°30′ N. and 59° E., for considerable distances along the banks
of two small northern tributaries of the twisting Pechora, the Kolva-vis and the
Sandibei. A year later, a second group of finds was made 100 miles due westward, in
the Pechora mouth area, around present-day Narian-Mar and centuries-old Pustozersk.
A single find was made 30 miles to the southwestward, along the Sula River, important
because it is along the same river, portage and trail route westward to Mezen and
Arkhangelsk that has always been in use in historical times. Finally, the most north–
easterly discovery was made on the shore of the Arctic at 60°E. and almost 69°N.,
on the west bank of the mouth of the Talata River, just east of Khaipudyr Gulf. This
is 75 miles NNE of the first finds, and 200 miles ENE of the second. The nature of
the finds indicate that the people of that day, approximately 4,000 years ago, were
fishermen and hunters. What is of overriding interest is the similarity among the
finds at these widely-scattered localities, and the similarity of all of them as a
group to those of the White Sea culture of that day centered [: ] near
present-day Arkhangelsk, hundreds of miles to the southwest.
M.E. Foss, a Soviet A a rcheologist of standing, who has herself made important
discoveries infield excavations, has demonstrated clearly by reference to 56 descrip–
tions of finds over all of northern Scandinavia, north Russia and northwestern Siberia in the past half
century, that there was trade and other intercourse between the people dwelling
along the Barents and White Seas, and those of the Pechora and Ob, and the tundra
between. Similar contact existed between them and cultures as far south as present–
day Leningrad (Karelian Culture) and the middle west slope of the Urals (Ananin Culture),

Nenets N.O.

eastward of, but on the same latitude as, Moscow (56°N.). These similarities are
demonstrated both in the cultural field and anthropologically, by comparisons of
skulls and skeletons. According to Foss, the contact between the Arkhangelsk area
and the present Nenets territory was via the same routes as today: by sea along the
coast to the mouth of the Pechora and beyond, and also up that river via its tributaries.
Cliff paintings near Arkhangelsk show boats apparently capable of seating 24, and island finds show
open water was crossed.
[]Although the Kolva-vis and Sandibei finds are due east of those in the vici–
nity of Narian-Mar, along the trail now used for centuries by reindeer-herding
peoples, Foss doubts that the contact in the period of the White Sea Culture was over–
land, but believes instead that it was roundabout, via the Pechora River network.
History . The first, semi-legendary, people, known to inhabit this territory in hist–
orical times have come down to us under the name of Chud, or Yugra, with whom the
ventur e some merchants of the great early mediaeval, semi-democratic city-state of
Lord Great Novgorod (south of today's Leningrad) came into contact "probably about
the time of the First Crusade (1096 A.D.) and certainly before the Second (1147 A.D.)",
according to Prof. Beazley of the University of Birmingham. As late as 1837, Alexander
Schrenk, traveling through the Nenets tundra, found very vivid and precise folk
memories of the Chud among both the natives and the Russians who had dwellt on that
shore for at least 350 years.
→ Insert 7a
The Fundamental Chronicle , usually known as Nestor's , one of the earliest written
records of Russian history (Povest vremennykh let) containing, of course, much that is fantastic, says that in
1092 A.D. men of Novgorod went to the pechora people and from there to the Tugra. "The Tugra people have a dumb (unknown)
language and they neighbor the Samoyeds (Nentsy) in the midnight lands." The same Chronicle says that
in a year which apparently was 1112 A.D., a [: ] Novgorod
merchant named Guriata Rogovich sent his servant to the Pechora River, that the
natives of that river valley then paid tribute to Novgorod, and from the Pechora the
messenger went on to the land called Yugra. An entry for 1169 reports a tribute–
gathering expedition, but in 1187 the Yugra rose and massacred the Russians. The
number involved in these expeditions was usually small. About 100 men were lost on
this occasion. A punitive expedition of 1193-4 ended in disaster, but Novgorod evident–
ly was able to re-establish some contact or hold, for, in the agreement of 1264
between Novgorod and Prince Yaroslav, Yugra appears among the domains or claims of the
Republic of Novgorod. Finally, a last effort was made by Novgorod to subject the
Yugra in 1445. The report is interesting because it indicates the large number of Rus-

N.N.O.

[: ] Fur trading contact with the Yugra across the entire East European plain may date
back to the 5th Century B.C., for Herodotus describes the people of the area south
of the North Russian Sea (Arctic?) as the Yurkai, from which Hennig draws the not
improbable conclusion that this was merely another or an earlier pronunciation of
Yugra. From the 10th Century A.D. onward there are numerous reports by Arabian traders
of a people called the Yura, north of the Volga Bulgar Kingdom. Henning describes the
route northward as following the Kama and [: ] Kolva , then the Vychegda, and finally over
the Pechora Portage to the Pechora. The northern trading center was Cherdyn, which
remained until the present century the chief source of [: ] trade goods for
the Nentsy. Iban Sa'id wrote in 1250 that "they (the people of the North) have a
white bear, which goes into the sea and swims and catches fish." and that its fur
was sold as far south as Egypt. Ibn Battuta in 1354 reported a single, exceptionally
beautiful ermine from north Russia as being sold in India for the extraordinarily high
price of 400 dinars.

Nenets N.O.

sian settlers at that early date beyond the Northern Dvina River, i.e., the Russian portion of present–
day Arkhangelsk Oblast, of which the Nenets National Okrug is a part. There were enough,
apparently, to raise 3,000 men of military age. The Chronicle of Novgorod reads, for that
year:
"The same year Vasili Shenkurskoi (N.B. Shenk ru ur sk is southeast of Arkhangelsk - W.M.)
and Mikhail Yakol, Voyevodas of Novgorod, with three thousand men from beyond the Volok
(N.B. the portage linking the Arctic and Baltic watersheds) went against the Yugra people,
and, after capturing many Yugra men with their wives and children, disbanded. And the
Yugra people succeeded in deceiving them, saying thus: 'We will pay you tribute, and will
count our numbers and show you our camps, settlements and islands and natural boundaries.'
At the same time they collected and attacked Vasili's fortress, killing many good men,
sons of Boyars, and eighty other brave men. It was terrible to hear their destruction,
but Vasili [: ] escaped with his son Semeon and a small party, and others fled into
the forest and dispersed. The other Voyevoda Mikhail Yakol was then on another river, and
coming to Vasili's fortress and finding it demolished and his fellows killed and others
scattered, he set about seeking his own people along the river. And Vasili and his son
and the others joining him, they all returned to their own country."
There is no clear distinction among the peoples named Pechora (cave-dwellers),
Yugra and Chud. Some maps show the Pechora - whose "caves" may have been semi-dugouts –
south of the Yugra, who are presumably identical with the Chud. However, recently-discovered labyrinths
of found on the Solovetskie Islands in the White Sea containing finds dating back to
the White Sea culture of archeological antiquity tend to lend credence to the stories
of "cave" dwellings. Schrenk, describing his 1837 [: ] [: ] Journey to [: ] the Northeast of
European Russia Through the Tundra of the Samoyeds to the Northern Ural Mountains in a
sober, scientific and detailed work of 665 pages under that title, writes:
"All the inhabitants of these lands preserve a legend, substantiated by history,
that the most extreme northeastern portion of European Russia was, in earlier times (when
that land was hardly known) inhabited by a tribe entirely different from that which
dwells here today. This tribe was among many not speaking the Russian language, which were
known to the Russians under the name of Chud, i.e., strange people. The Samoyeds call
them Siirte, and state with certainty that they lived in the country before them." The

Nenets N.O.

The Siirte spoke a strange tongue, but also understood the Nenets tongue, according to legends
heard by Schrenk. They were richer than the Nentsy, possessing silver and copper, iron, tin and
lead. [: ] The reason for this, said the Nentsy, was that the Siirte dwelt underground.
This poses the question, not raised by Schrenk, as to whether the Siirte are remembered as living
underground because they knew how to mine the mineral wealth which the Pechora headwater area and
Vaigach Island possess. Thus far, there [: ] are no reports indicating that the modern mining
operations of the past decade have uncovered signs of ancient workings. Schrenk reports having
heard, also, from a "bright" resident of Mezen, Russian by nationality, that a locality near
Mezen (just south of the area under our consideration) had been inhabited by Chud, who had been
driven from it by the men of Novgorod. They had been pursued to a river bank, where some died
under the swords of the Russians, and the remainder sought death by plunging into the waters. To
this day, that spot carries the name of "bloody", ascribed to this event. Two villages near
Mezen are described, in folk memory, according to Schrenk, as having been villages of the Chud–
not, therefore, a nomadic people - before the early Russians [: ] drove them out and took
over. Moreover, there were, Schrenk said, Russian families in Pustozersk, the oldest Russian
settlement in the Nenets National Okrug, which traced [: ] their lineage back to the Chud. [: ]
[: ] This is not necessarily [: ] imaginative, for the folk bards of the Russian
Arctic seaboard have retained a more exact memory of the history of ancient kiev, 1,000 years
ago and as many miles to the south, than is the case anywhere else in Russia. Unfortunately,
the particular old man of alleged Chud origin from whom Schrenk hoped to get his family tradition,
was away when he visited Pustozersk.
Schrenk also describes more tangible traces of the Chud-Yugra-Pechora in the form of
the "numerous" caves along the Pechora (cave) River. The Russians called them Chud caves or
Chud mounds - the latter term being of even greater interest. Unfortunately, he himself
does not describe having seen any. Accepting the idea that these peoples lived in caves,
he speculates that the reason may have been an inability readily to fell the trees of the
northern forests with the instruments at hand. This would, to some degree, contradict the
Nenets legend that they possessed iron.
More than half a century before Schrenk, Witsen, [: ] wrote as
follows:
"If one travel up the river Indiga (the next west of the Pechora - W.M.), one finds

Nenets N.O.

en route the hamlet of Gorodishche (that is, an abandoned place where a town had stood,..)
[: ] where in ancient times there lived a people called the Chud; that people was at
war with the Russians, but today has disappeared entirely and only the (earth?) walls
of its ancient town remain."
Schrenk regarded as further [: ] proof of the existence of the Chud, [: ]
whom he believed to be a Finno-Ugrian people, the names of coastal rivers and localities.
As known to the Russians, and marked on the maps today, they are not Russian, but Finnish,
while the Nentsy have entirely distinct names for them.
The facts seem to be that the Chud existed, and probably called themselves Yugra;
that they were a more advanced people than the Nentsy, perhaps knowing the use of iron;
but that they were defeated and exterminated by the Nentsy. who had pushed westward
across the northernmost Ural. The Nentsy may not antedate the Muscovite Russians in this
area by many centuries. The early men of Novgorod may have known the Chud rather than
the Nentsy. But the picture is not clear by any means.
The modern history of the territory begins with Moscow's conquest of [: ]
Novgorod, in 1471. Where [: ] Novgorod had sent expeditions to collect tribute and
plunder, not unlike [: ] the Kiev state in the south 500 years earlier, Moscow founded perma–
nent outposts. In 1499 a fort was built at the mouth of the Pechora, called Pustozersk,
by Princes Kurbskii and Ushatov, to collect tribute from the Nentsy and protect the Rus–
sian fishermen of the coast from their raids. The town was administrative center of the
north country at that time, and the governors dwellt there. It is of considerable interest
to note that the natives, who had resisted the men of Novgorod for 400 years, stood up
against Muscovite Russia and the Empire which soon succeeded it for another 250 years. It
was not until 1746 that the garrison, aided by all Russians capable of bearing arms, and
by some Nentsy, succeeded in crushing the Nentsy so thoroughly that all later visitors
to the area describe them as an entirely peaceable people. As a place of exile, Pustozersk
was the home[: ] of such figures
as the boyar Artamon [: ] Matveev, and Prince V.V. Golitsyn, the lover of Empress Sophia.
[: ] Earlier it had been the place of exile of the famed founders of the Old Believers'
sect, Avvakum, Nikifor, Lazar and Epiphany, who were here burned alive in wooden cages.
The reference above to the final suppression of the Nentsy does not at all mean that

Nenets N.O.

One of the [: ] Nenets legends [: ] very popular to the pre–
sent day, named after its hero, Khariutsei , tells how the Nentsy attacked a town to rescue
fellow-tribesmen who had been taken as slaves. After a long march they came to a town sur–
rounded by a stone wall. and defended by cannon. This would indicate a campaign far to the southwest of Pustozersk,
for its wall was wooden. The unequal battle ended with the defeat of the Nentsy. The legend
is chanted in exciting metric verse, [: ] not unlike
that of the Karelian Kalevala , [: ] from which Longfellow took the meter for Hiawatha .
Khariutsei tells of the struggle:
"From the town there burst upon us
" Strong and thunderous, a volley.
Turned I round upon my brothers,
Saw, that like by a wind of power,
They were gone borne from earth and snowland,
With them forty tents were lifted
Berne High into the air above us.
"Answered we with flights of arrows,
But the town sent forth another,
Just as terrible a volley,
Turned I once again and witnessed,
Like the wind it took my brothers,
[: ]
[: ]
Forty tents with them went skywards,
Bore them off into the [: ] heavens."

Nenets National Okrug

relations with the Russians were traditionally or primarily unfriendly. On the contrary,
a A lthough the Russians had come for tribute, they had remained to trade, particularly after
the founding of Pustozersk. [: ] That trade required constant contact both
with the Nentsy of north Europe, but also with the Yamal Nentsy to the east, whose wander–
ings took them to Mangazeia, the Russian outpost established at the mouth of the Taz, just
east of the Ob, in 1601. Nentsy visited Pustozersk each winter [: ] for trade, and in
considerably larger numbers than they did 200 years later. As for Russian coasting trade to Siberia,
there is ample evidence of it in the writings of the early English and Dutch explorers and mer–
chant adventurers. Thus, Willem Barents' description of his second northeast voyage, in
1595, written by Gerat de Veer, states [] , regarding the vicinity of Yugorskii Shar, the [: ]
narrow[] strait between the northernmost mainland point of the present Nenets National Okrug
and Vaigach Island to the north:
"The three and twentieth of August we found a Lodgie, or Boat of Pitzore (Pechora),
which was sewed together with Bast or Ropes, that had been Northward to seeke for some
Sea-horses (walrus) Teeth, Traen (oil), and Geese, which they fetcht with their Boat, to
lade in certaine shippes that were to come out of Russia through Wey-gates (Vaigach Island,
i.e., Yugorskii Shar). Which ships they said (when they spake with us) were to sayle into
the Tartarian (Kara) Sea, by the River of Oby (Ob), to a place called Ugolita (Yugria, i.e.,
to the Yugra) in [: ] Tartaria, there to stay all Winter, as they used to doe every yeere
(my emphasis - W.M.): and told us that told us that it would yet bee nine or ten Weekes
ere it began to freeze in that place, and that when it once beganne to freeze, it would
freeze so hard, that as then men might go over the Sea into Tartaria (along upon the Ice)
which they called Mermare."
This last is of particular interest, because it indicates that the Russians, pre–
sumably following the example of the Nentsy, made sledge [: ] journeys out of sight
of land, for a trip from Yugorskii Shar eastward to the site of Mangazeia requires cross–
ing the broad Baidarat and Ob Gulfs. Other descriptions dating from 1611 and 1612 in
Purchas' Pilgrims give detailed and circumstantial accounts of Russian voyages by sea to
the Yenisei, while those to the Ob, somewhat nearer, involved fleets of two dozen 15-ton
vessels or more, travelling together. As for Pustozersk, it had apparently been burnt
down by its governor in 1610, more than 100 buildings and the fort being destroyed, in con-

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nection with the Troubled Times then plaguing Russia. However, there were 80 to 100
houses standing in 1611. [: ] Agents of the English company for trade with North Russia re–
ported variously that the number of Nentsy coming to the town for the winter fairs in
1611-1614 [: ] was between 800 and 3,000. The objects they sold were identical with
those which constituted the main riches of the region for the next 200 years: furs,
including Siberian beaver and valuable Mangazeia sable, mammoth ivory, and rock crystal
from the quartz rocks of the Arctic Ural and the shores and islands of the Kara Sea.
In addition to the Nentsy visiting Pustozersk, and the Russians voyaging by sea
and the Yamal Peninsula portage, other Pustozersk Russians crossed the tundra and forest to Yugria,
in the northern Urals, or across the tundra and the Arctic Urals to Obdorsk and Mangazeia.
However, conflict between the Nentsy on both sides of the mountains often rendered
these trips unprofitable. This also reduced the quantity of commodities brought by the
Nentsy themselves to Pustozersk. Another trade route was from Pustozersk east-south–
east to the hamlet of Rogovoi Gorodok, which served at one time as a point of deposit
for the prohibited wares brought in from Siberia. That village, [: ] lying just south of
the present Nenets N.O. border, owed its existence to the institution of customs-houses
at the end of the 16th century, at Berezovo, Verkhoture and other small northern towns
in Siberia. A description of an overland journey to this smugglers' haven in 1614 was written
by W. Gourdon of Hull, who had been stationed at Pustozersk.
The merchants of Pustozersk also voyaged, it goes without saying, southwestward
to Mezen, Pinega and Kholmogory (near the present city of Arkhangelsk), to dispose
there of the furs, ivory and crystal purchased from the Nentsy. However, the bulk of
this southward export was conducted by Vologda and Arkhangelsk merchants who wintered
at Pustozersk each year, purchasing both at first hand from the Nentsy and also from
the Pustozersk each year, purchasing both at first hand from the Nentsy and also from
the Pustozersk Russians, who evidently had little better knowledge of the true value
of their goods than the natives.
The coastal route followed by the Russians to Mangazeia was described as follows by the British merchants
stationed at Pustozersk. Using boats seating 12 to 30 men, they followed the mainland
coast to Yugorskii Shar, and then pursued the low shoreline of the Kara Bay to the
mouth of the Mutnaia River on the west coast of the Yamal Peninsula. They hauled their

Nenets National Okrug

boats up this stream for eight days to reach two lakes, 12 miles long, from which they
emerged upon a portage of somewhere between 1,400 ft. and a mile in length - sources
differ - to reach another lake giving rise to another river down which they floated for
10 days to reach the Gulf of the Ob. The reason for the length of the downstream journey
is that this [: ] river, the Zelenaia, was so shallow as to [: ] require very frequent repeated unloading
and re-loading of the boats. From this point they followed the coast down to the mouth of
the river Taz, and then upstream. With a favorable wind, this last leg took four days.
Otherwise, using oars, it took 8 to 12. It is clear from an account by Hakluyt and others
that Mangazeia was by no means the farthest limit of the eastward journey of the merchants
from Pustozersk. Following the Taz further upstream, the finally emerged at the muddy
portage of Volochanka in the Siberian marshlands. From it they followed the Turukhan down–
stream to Turukhansk, where that river enters the Yenisei. [: ]
[: ]
[: ]
[: ] These voyages are believed to have begun in the 16th century. i I t would appear, however,
from the archeological evidence [: ] of the existence of vessels of [: ] similar size, and of intercultural relation–
ships discusssed [: ] earlier, that, whereas there may have been inter–
ruptions, such voyages [: ] might well have been made literally thousands of years earlier.
At all events, the articles offered for trade by the Russians included rye and oat flour,
salt, butter (?), some processed hides, and fabrics.
The trip to Turukhansk from Pustozersk was, however, extremely long and hardly
profitable. The importance of Pustozersk, making it worthwhile for the English Merchant
Adventurers to station agents there, hinged entirely upon the existence of Mangazeia. But
[: ] precisely in order to prevent foreigners from penetrating Siberia, an area of Russian monopoly,
which Russia herself had only just conquered, [: ] Mangazeia was literally torn down
at Moscow's orders and the Siberian outpost moved to Turukhansk,. Pustozersk then lost its
significance. For Turukhansk was reached much more readily by more southerly portages
in latitudes where the rivers remained open for a longer period of time. This tragedy —
from the viewpoint of the people of the Pechora basin — occurred in 1620. From that point on, the chief signi–
ficance of north European Russia was for trade westward, not eastward. Pustozersk declined,
and Arkhangelsk stood alone as a flourishing port, until the building of the "window on the

Nenets National Okrug

West", [: ] St. Petersburg, deprived it too of its importance for centuries.
Not only was Mangazeia dismantled, but the government specifically prohibited the
navigation of the Yugorskii Shar, so as to prevent smuggling from Siberia. Finally, the
Siberian Nentsy were now able to find a market for their furs at Obdorsk, which began
to be visited by Russian merchants coming downriver along the Ob, and the need for
barter with the European Nentsy across the difficult North Ural country disappeared.
When a regular annual winter fair was set up in Obdorsk, the last reason for trading
with Pustozersk disappeared, and it became a purely local center for barter with the
Nentsy of the European tundra alone.
---------------------------
We have mentioned earlier that it was not until 1746, i.e., a century-and-a–
quarter after the closing of Mangazeia, that the Nentsy were finally subjected by the
Russians, although they had paid tribute, first intermittently, and later, for the most
part regularly, for at least 250 years. The rate of tribute, originally laid down by the
Novgorod raiding parties about 1100 A.D., remained unchanged until early in the 19th
century. The old rate was two polar fox skins per bow, i.e., per adult male. In order
to give Pustozersk protection beyond that provided by force of arms - for the Russians
were greatly outnumbered at the time of its founding and for long thereafter - the
Tsarist government issued letters patent to the Nentsy guaranteeing them the possession
of the tundra in perpetuity. But the trickery and robbery they suffered at the hands of
the Russian merchants - whose precarious voyages could often not be profitable without
such methods - brought its harvest of hate. At one time the Nentsy besieged Pustozersk.
Individual merchants who had taken them in, and were found out, had their ears, noses
and tongues cut away, and their eyes gouged out, and were turned loose to meet their
fate in the tundra. Needless to say, the conquerors replied in kind, if it was not they
from whom such devices had been learned in the first place. When and where the yasak –
tribute - was payable in terms of possession of reindeer, crooked officials demanded
that it be paid, not per head, but per hoof, i.e., fourfold. At other times, the Nentsy
would be forbidden to pasture their reindeer, hunt or fish in the usual places, until
they had paid graft to the officials.
As almost everywhere in the Far North, vodka became the means whereby the chief
permanent wealth of the natives - the reindeer - passed from their hands into those of

Nenets National Okrug

Russian and Komi kulaks (a word for tight-fisted rural usurer, merchant or farmer
which one finds used in entirely [: ] conservative Russian writings of 1880 and earlier).
The effect of liquor, and also the standards of wealth in the tundra, were described
[: ] remarkably well by one Nenets in the 19th century:
"Wine is tastier than meat; when you drink it, you become wealthier. You suddenly
have many reindeer and you are a merchant. And when you awake, you realize that you are
poor and have drunk your last reindeer away."
The effect, in essence, was that to a considerable degree, the Nenets became the
herdsman for the reindeer of which he had formerly been the owner. owned. Nemirovich-Dancheko, writing in
1881, pictured the situation as follows:
"Formerly there were Samoyeds with innumerable [: ] herds; five or six thousand
reindeer were not deemed anything out of the ordinary; now he who owns 500 is regarded
as wealthy. Epidemics have taken them all! But worse than ice (in this area of less than
extreme cold, conditions of thaw followed by freeze occur, making it impossible for the
reindeer to crop the moss beneath the snow - W.M.), worse than [: ] the gadfly, worse
than epidemics and sudden cold snaps is the kulak and the Izhemets (Komi -q.v.) entre–
preneur, who have seized the forests simply as robbers, driven the Samoyeds from their
edges into the tundra, the while [: ] plundering them with the aid of vodka. In the
tundra control (over this) is impossible. (N.B.- It will be seen later how the present
regime has instituted such control with the aid of the Nentsy themselves - W.M.). [: ]
Only the Samoyed himself could protect himself....They have taken the best moss-lands
in the tundra from him, driven him from the fishing streams and from the shores rich
in sea mammals....
"It is interesting, although disgusting, to observe the means whereby the Zyrians
(also Komi) have attained their present position, i.e., become the rulers of the tundra.
Formerly there were as many rich Samoyed owners of large herds - and therefore competitors
of the Izhemtsy - as there were Pustozersk Russians. (N.B. - Needless to say, the Russians
also became large reindeer-owners only by gaining them from the Nentsy - W.M.). The
Zyrians began systematically to trample down (evidently with their herds - W.M.) and
destroy the moss pastures of both.... [: ] In the course of time the
herds of the Pustozersk people died of starvation (the Russians, not being nomads,

Nenets National Okrug

could not, despite their political and military dominance, wander afield in search of
new pastures - W.M.) and those of the Samoyeds passed into the hands of the Zyrians.
Every impoverished Izhemets who wants to better his condition stocks up with vodka,
tobacco and tobacco and sets forth into the tundra. There he seeks out a rich grazing
area, plies the Nenets reindeer-owner, his wife and children with liquor, and then
begins to trade with him for the remaining stock of vodka. For it, the Samoyed yields
the take of his previous and forthcoming season, his reindeer and furs....The results
are obvious: [: ] famine and the dying-out of the tribe. The Zyrians introduced
drunkenness here, and the Russians - syphilis. In the 1830s (the burden of) county
government was added thereto. "Fish, fowl, reindeer, furs and berries were taken from
the Samoyeds, when they lacked money (to pay tribute). Entire clans fled into the
tundra, and, in panic, crossed beyond the Ural Mts, into the Vasiugan tundra of Siberia,
when they learned that their protectors, the county officials, planned to visit them."
Islavin, [: ] found in 1844 that the 1,470 Zyrians
in the area had 1,141 Samoyeds as herdsmen. Antonov showed that of approximately
5,000 Nentsy, 1,400 now did not possess a single reindeer, and the remaining 3,600 had
an average of only four each. The herdsmen were fed poorly, and rotten meat into the
bargain: reind eer that had died, and small fish of the kind that usually was thrown
to the dogs. Instead of clothes, they were given [: ] scraps remaining after clothes
had been cut. Their wages in money were 4 rubles and 20 kopecks per family per year,
but even this they rarely saw, because their employer made sure to sell them [: ]
drink and tobacco to that value.
Insert 16a.
In view of the apparent simplicity of the Nentsy in economic matters, it is worth
nothing that this was due to the fact that they had had no experience of this sort in
their own society, and not due to any inherent backwardness. On the contrary, their
assistance was regarded as indispensable in those enterprises in which their experience
was great. The Russian employers of Pustozersk regarded them as irreplaceable. Expedi–
tions to Novaia Zemlia and Vaigach were unthinkable without them. Their fearlessness,
shrewdness and skill in dealing with bears, powerful sea mammals and other dangerous
phenomena [: ] of their native tundra won [: ] universal admiration.
Many Nentsy spoke Russian, Komi and Khante quite abl y , in addition to their own tongue.

Nenets N.O

In Nenets folk poetry, there is the Song About a Boy, which tells this story most
vividly:
Bore I wood full three years for him,
Years full three bore him his water,
Garbage fed he me, [: ] my master,
Ate I leavings, sobbed and sorrowed.
Only when the dogs had entered
Could I come into the wigwam.
When the dogs were driven outward,
Must I also leave the wigwam.

Nenets National Okrug

Those who served on the fishing schooners of the larger Mezen entrepreneurs also readily
acquired a working knowledge of the English, Norwegian, French and German languages during
stays in the ports of those countries. Prior to their complete conquest, the Nentsy had
not hesitated to send deputations as far as Moscow to defend their rights before the Tsar's
Duma of noblemen.
But by a century ago, [: ] this people was in a hopeless state.
[: ] Islavin, sent by the Ministry
of Internal Affairs to investigate the situation, reported: "If no boundaries are set to
the movement of the Izhemtsy, and they are not strictly watched over, then within twenty
years they will dominate the Timan [: ] tundra and the land of the Siberian Samoyeds
as they not now control all the Bolshezemelskaia tundra." He summarized his findings of 1844 as follows:
"The Samoyeds are the true pariahs of the Russian north. Russian and Zyrian kulaks take
their reindeer herds from them by trickery, drink and robbery. They take their pastures.
They have taken all the best rivers and lakes and trampled out the reindeer moss around them.
The seaside occupations have also been taken from the Samoyeds. Russian entrepreneurs have
taken all the best bays and gulfs. The Samoyeds have been left only those places to which
sea mammals almost never come. The Izhem kulaks compel the Samoyeds to serve them for [: ]
'debts' of their fathers which their sons had never heard about. They take them as shepherds
in the tundra and are held by force.
"The Samoyeds have nowhere to register complaints, and they must remain, unwillingly, in
eternal enslavement.
"All of this has resulted in impoverishment of the Samoyeds to the point of complete
pauperization. [: ] Entire families of
starving nomads, begging charity, are seen in the streets of Pustozersk, Ust-Tsylma, Pinega,
Mezen and Arkhangelsk.
"The local officials aid in the plunder and themselves strip the Samoyeds. They take
bribes and engage in extortion, not refusing anything: fur, fish, fowl, reindeer and money.
[: ] Learning that their 'protectors' are to visit them,
entire clans of Samoyeds will abandon their pastures in fear and fly beyond the Urals to the
Siberian tundra."
Seven years earlier, Schrenk personally had observed how the Komi trappers had destroyed

Nenets National Okrug

the lairs of polar foxes in order to take the skins of the young, thereby destroying the
resource for the [: ] Nentsy and whoever else would follow. On another occasion, coming into
a tent all of whose inhabitants were sodden drunk, he learned that they had sold not only
their herds, but themselves and their families. Later, his companion took down 18 specific
complaints against the Komi, which Schrenk believed to be justified. [: ]
[: ] It is of particular interest to record [: ] the desires of the Nentsy themselves
for an equalitarian re-distribution of the herds, voiced to Schrenk in 1837. Iin view of
the charges[] that, when the soviets finally instituted such a reform, almost a century later,
it represented an imposition of a concept foreign to a people content with their traditional
lot. Schrenk writes:
He wrote:
"This people (the Nentsy) already was everywhere informed of my journey, and as no one
could understand its objects (it was strictly scientific - W.M. ), each reasoned it out for himself
and finally drew the conclusion that I had supposedly been dispatched by the government for
the purpose of determining in detail how many reindeer were in the possession of each owner –
which might readily appear to them to be the case, as my companion inquired about the number
of reindeer in each tent - so as later to divide them equally among all the inhabitants of
the tundra. In view of the intentions ascribed to me, all the wealthy owners, and therefore
the Zyrians as well, had of necessity to be my avowed opponents, while the impoverished and
tricked Nentsy loved me with all their hearts, as they considered me [: ] responsible for all
their future happiness to be. This concatenation of circumstances compelled us, wherever we went,
to conceal from the Zyrians [: ] the route we proposed to take, so as thereby to deprive them
of all opportunity to act against us in unity." (The point was that Schrenk engaged reindeer
as he went along. The Komi owned the reindeer, and would have abandoned his route of travel,
leaving him with no means of transportation, had they known whither he was bound. They were
exceedingly angry with their Nenets herdsmen who [: ] appeared with
reindeer along Schrenk's route, but the Nentsy used various ruses to do so without harmful
results for themselves. ) This picture repeated itself 30 and 90 years later, except that on
the latter occasion the Nentsy were right about the intentions of the present government,
although by that time its representatives had to overcome deep-rooted suspicions of all Russians,
particularly outsiders.)

Nenets National Okrug

Elsewhere Schrenk reported that the local traders, when they paid in money rather than
goods, passed off 10-kopeck pieces as rubles (one ruble contains 100 kopecks). That at
least was consistent with their rate of profit in barter transactions.
In Schrenk's day the economy of the Komi, the Russians and the [: ] Nentsy differed as
follows. The Komi kept reindeer as a commodity whose meat, hides and horns were marketable,
particularly the hides. Therefore they permitted them to multiply as rapidly as possible,
having attained a trebling in a few decades. But this upset the natural balance in the
tundra, and exhausted the moss resources, thus paving the way for a drastic fall in the
herds from starvation, particularly in case of a season unfavorable due to ice or other
special conditions. That problem has only been solved in the past decade, as will be seen below. For the Russians, reindeer-keeping was a secondary occupation, and they
providing them with a means of land transport, and they
permitted their Nenets herdsmen to pursue it in the traditional manner. They engaged engaging in suffi–
cient slaughter for meat to maintain the human population, at its height and the reindeer
population at a level consistent with the resources of the tundra., as it was then used.
-----------
The one area of settled habitation [: ] a century ago in the territory under
our consideration was the mouth of the Pechora. In all, there were 18 hamlets with a total
population of about a thousand in 1832. Together, they were known as Pustozersk. Their chief
occupation was fishing and the hunting of sea mammals, but they also engaged in trade,
[: ] which gave them grain and other necessities of life and occupation; reindeer-keeping,
mainly as a means of transport; cattle farming and the hunting of wildfowl. Fishing began
in the spring, immediately upon the melting of the ice. and was conducted by means of nots
560 to 700 ft. in length. Except for one species, which was dried, all the fish taken was
salted. The Various types of salmon constituted the chief marketable fish.
. The fish was
sold, not to the great fishing town of Arkhangelsk or the lesser - Mezen - but to the
up-river Pechora country through merchants from Cherdyn on the west slope of the Urals,
who came down to Pustozersk between late June and early August, offering bread grains, as the
main requirement of the fisherfolk., in exchange Prices depended, of course, upon the relative success
of the fish catch and the current price of grain to the south. Salt was provided chiefly
from government stores, for the government had a monopoly virtual monopoly in this field.
Both the Pechora fairway and the adjoining seaside bays with the best fishing had, after
having been taken from the Nentsy, been carefully divided among the Russians on the basis

Nenets National Okrug

of [: ] common law. As the various fishing grounds were not equally productive, a system of
rotation was in effect, whereby each fisherman had the opportunity of [: ] using the more profit–
able grounds once in several years. Here one had an application to the sea of the ancient
Russian village community system, but something which was used strictly on behalf of the
Russians and against the native majority of the population. However, as on the land, this
system was no protection against the impoverishment of some and the enrichment of others.
There were fisherfolk whose poverty reached the point of complete lack of nets, without which fishing
a catch of adequ a te size could not be gained. To live, they had to rent their sections of water frontage to the
well-to-do for a pittance, and then go to work for them at wages far lower than the value of
the catch taken from their holdings.
An interesting [: ] contradiction in religion arose out of the
differences between the needs of the fishermen on the coast and the farmers just 2 1/2° of
latitude to the south. When the fisherfolk prayed, in August, for a north wind to drive
the salmon into their nets, the farmers beseeched intercession for the very opposite, in
their fear of unseasonable frost!
The Pustozersk people hunted sea mammals chiefly off the shores of Vaigach Island and
Novaia Zemlia, and in the mouths of the Korotaikha and Kara Rivers on the mainland. They
built huts there which, to this day, are the only human habitations along the coast except
for the [: ] mining towns of Amderma and [: ] Vaigach Island. and the new fisheries at
Shoina and Indiga
A third occupation was [: ] the hunting of wildfowl. This was is done by Nentsy on Kolguev Island.
The Russians supplied them with a year's necessities, in the form of foodstuffs, powder, [: ]
nets, etc., in exchange for which the Nentsy turned over the entire catch.
Agriculture consisted chiefly of the maintenance of cows of the Kholmogory breed, large
and good milkers by local standards. The islands of the Pechora delta provided ample forage, and haying was
carried on in August to provide silage for the year. The local horses were then particularly large
and strong, being the result of [: ] the improvement of
Russian breeds by a Danish workhorse stallion. Chickens were the only domestic fowl. Some
few sheep were kept.
Berries and mushrooms were gathered.
-----------------

Nents National Okrug

In 1859 a company for the export of [: ] lumber via the Pechora mouth was formed
by Capt. Kruzenshtern (not the famed explorer of half-a-century earlier) [: ]
[: ] , Latkin and Sidorov. Latkin had explored this
area in 1841 and 1843, while Kruzenshtern had been there in the latter year with Count
Keizerling. This company undertook to ship timber both abroad and to Kronshtat, the Russian
naval base off St. Petersburg, for the needs of the Admiralty. Therefore, in 1859 two
foreign vessels appeared off the river mouth — perhaps the first in [: ] 230 years!—
of which one suffered disaster, and the other took a cargo of lumber to France. During
the next ten years, 38 [: ] German and English steam and sailing ships came to the Pechora
for lumber. The company itself built three vessels on the Pechora, and also possessed an
ocean-going steamer. The company failed after ten years, but a merchant named Ikonnikov
thereafter organized the annual shipment of lumber to Kronshtat in [: ] chartered foreign
bottoms [] until 1885. During the decade of existence of the Kruzenshtern-Latkin-Sidorov
firm, navigation markers were maintained annually in the fairway and an several landmarks.
In 1894 two naval vessels under the command of Lieut. Zhdanko conducted hydrographic
surveys of the Gulf and bar of the Pechora. In the last decade of the 19th century annual
service between the Pechora mouth and Arkhangelsk and St. Petersburg was maintained by
A.M. Sibiriakov's vessel, Nordenskiold. This ship determined that, under the conditions
of that day, the Pechora mouth was open to navigation at least between July 10 and September 15.
In 1895 a government-subsidized scheduled shipping line was established, with four [: ]
round-trip voyages each season between the Pechora mouth and Arkhangelsk, while a merchant
named Neritsin put two freight-and-passenger vessels into service on the river itself,
providing 10 trips per summer between the mouth and Ust-Kozhva, at 65° N., a distance of
several hundred miles. The down-river river trade then came to about $250,000 per year, including
grain, clothing and footwear, salt, exotics (tea, etc.) and ironware, some of which was
sold en route, and some brought to the river-mouth settlements. The up-river trade con–
sisted of the familiar fish, furs, hides, feather s and down, sea-mammal oils, and reindeer
products. This was carried in barges. Four tugs were in service.
In the 1890s only 20 small entrepreneurs, employing a total of 55 paid employees,
were engaged in sealing along the coast and its island. The total value of the catch, in
prices of that day, was $3,150, which makes clear the need for fishing, cattle-raising and

Nenets National Orkug

reindeer-breeding to eke out a livelihood.
In 1897 there were 5,080 Nentsy in the District of the Pechora, which includes
much of the present-day Komi A.S.S.R. However, the majority of the Nentsy, being tundra–
dwellers, were undoubtedly to be found within the borders in the confines of the present Nenets National
Okrug. Their head-man - a Russian innovation - resided at Pustozersk, which had then vir–
tually disappeared - and he had an assistant in each of [: ] two towns of the Komi area. In 1896
there were 276,315 reindeer in the Pechora District, a much larger area than the present Nenets N.O., of which Nentsy, who tended them all,
owned but 46,950, and Russians, for whom this was of limited importance, even less. The
impoverishment of the Nentsy [: ] is indicated by the then Governor of the Province of
Arkhangelsk, Alexander Engelhardt, who describes them as having but 40 to 50 head, while
those possessing half-a-dozen or less had to resort to employment by Komi. The poverty of
the bulk of the Nentsy, and the class stratification among them, is indicated by the fact that a single
individual owned 6,000 head, or one-eighth of the entire Nenets-owned number. Put differently,
he owned as many as forty average Nentsy. The decline in reindeer-ownership by the Nentsy
is indicated statistically as follows: 95,000 in 1847 (after the vast bulk had been taken
from them, according to the observations of Schrenk, Islavin and others), 79,677 in 1892,
and 46,950 in 1897. [: ]
[: ] By contrast, Komi owned 120,470 head in 1842, and 207, 115
head in 1892. [: ]
Among the Nentsy, in 1892, of 1,750 families, more than [: ] a thousand possessed no
reindeer at all, and, for the most part, served the 739 Komi owners as [: ] herdsmen.
Of the 686 Nenets families which did own reindeer, a majority, or 439, owned less than
50 head each, averaging 25 head, which is [: ] half the minimum subsistence level. Only nine
families owned more than 1,000 head each, thus constituting, economically at least, an
aristocracy. Another [] 60 60 families owned over 200 200 head each, and presumably engaged herdsmen
to help care for them. Thus, 28 70 families of 1,750 among the Nentsy constituted the kulak
group , against whom the Soviets organized the poor forty years later. There were another
119 Komi families owning more than 5[: 0]0 head each, and employing Nenets herdsmen. Included
among the Komi were 36 owning over 1,000 head each.
These data make it clear that the apparently humanitarian Regulations for the Admin–
istration of the Samoyeds of Arkhangelsk Province, promulgated by the government in 1835

Nenets National Okrug.

as an aftermath of the Speransky Reforms of 1820 (qv Yakut A.S.S.R.), were never enforced.
The regulations, and the failure to carry them into effect, are both well described by
Gov. Engelhardt:
"Special regulations in favor of the Samoyeds were passed in 1835, probably owing
to the growing opinion as to the necessity of protecting them against their empoyers.
By these [: ] enactments the Samoyeds could conclude terms of employment for any
period not exceeding one year. Verbal agreements, entered into merely on the good faith
of the parties concerned, could not come within the cognizance of any court, whether
Samoyed or Russian. Such cases could only be argued amicably before arbitrators, whose
decision was to be considered final. If the conditions of service were in writing, ac–
counts had to be rendered annually between master and man. (The Nentsy were, and remained
until the 1920s, 99% illiterate. The handful of literate were among the wealthy. [: ]
Therefore verbal agreements were the only agreements possible! The same government which
passed this commendable regulation was responsible for not providing the minimum of educa–
tion which would have given it validity. - W.M.) If it came out that the workman remained
indebted to his employer for any sum exceeding five rubles, this debt was to be considered
as having arisen "without the permission of the authorities", and was therefore, from a
legal point of view, null and void.
"This ordinance endowed the Samoyeds with extensive rights in the direction of self–
government. In their own internal affairs the Samoyeds are governed according to the
customs of their tribe, by their own starshinas, i.e., mayors or elders, one of whom is
annually elected for each tundra. (Again, the fly in the ointment was that none dared to
oppose the election of starshinas from the nine families owning more than 1,000 reindeer
each, although their interests were diametrically opposed to those of the 1,500 families
which owned 50 or less, and most of them none at all. -W.M.) The starshinas are the only
intermediaries between their own people and the local Russian administrations....In spite,
however, of these privileges and immunities, the Samoyeds have not been able to consolidate
either their powers of self-government or their economic position.... Any sort of supervision
(by the government - W.M.) over the boundless expanse of the tundra would be out of the
question, nor could any arbitrary measures be taken to interfere with the immemorial rights
of its inhabitants to communicate freely one with the other. "(My emphasis - W.M.)

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It is the last sentence, emphasized above, which contains the essence of the differ–
ence between the present and pre-revolutionary Tsarist governments on the matter. "Free
communication" one with the other is, clearly, from Engelhardt's context, which we have
not the space to quote, a euphemism for relations between the Russians and Komi on the
one hand, and the Nentsy on the other, resulting in an exploitation of the latter which
he readily admits. Yet he denies the applicability to the mainland of the "the highly
successful results of the Government's guardianship of the Samoyeds of Novaia Zemlia....
as the interference of the authorities in the economic life of the settlers there was
called for by the absence of all private competition, and by the absolute necessity of
providing the settlers with food, arms and tackle." Needless to say, the program of the
present regime, which began to be enforced 30 years after those lines was written, was
based precisely upon bringing about an "absence of all private competition".
With regard to the local Russians and Komi, superior as their position was to that
of the Nentsy, Engelhardt wrote: "....from want of competition, the traders and fishermen
have to get rid of their produce as best as they can to dealers, who pay them in kind
on the credit system, the consequence being that the fishermen are completely in the
hands of these men."
[: ]
Little changed in the twenty years between the report of Engelhardt and the
Revolution. This period was described in 1932 by a Nenets, O, Pyreko, one a member of the first
generation to receive extended education ( grade school , high school. then Institute of
the Peoples of the North) under the Soviets. He was himself old enough to have a clear
and detailed memory of the pre-Revolutionary period, and there is no sharp difference
between the picture as he described it and that as Schrenk pictured it 85 years earlier.
On the eve of the Revolution, the rulers of the tundra were still the "lord provider"
[: ] as he was called - merchant - and the Nenets and Komi kulaks. The chief pro–
duct of the area for trade was fur. Each Nenets was in debted to a particular merchant, [] and was re–
quired to turn all the furs he trapped over to him in exchange for the grain, tea,
sugar, tobacco and manufacturers on which he lived. If a Nenets sought to sell as much
as a single fur elsewhere to secure a better price, his creditor would cut off his provi–
sions and demand the payment of the outstanding debt. This would compel the Nenets to

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slaughter some or all of his few reindeer to feed his family, thus leaving him without
draft animals and therefore unable to earn a livelihood. He had, therefore, little no choice
but to remain in subjection to his creditor. Whereas the [: ] Nentsy of
middling prosperity, i.e., those [: ] owning from 50 to 200 reindeer ( 178 [: 219] families
in 1892), were free to switch from one merchant to another, although at the cost of
considerable loss to themselves, and the 69 [: 29] kulak families were entirely free of debt,
the 1,500 poor families could, if they desired to break away from a merchant, only
hire out as herdsmen to a [: ] rich Nenets. One form of such labor was a type of sharecropping, rooted
in the clan system, but also having certain feudal characteristics. The impoverished
Nenets teamed up with a more fortunate kinsman, whose reckoning - expressed in a stand–
ard folk formula - was that the poorer relative would eat off the reindeer he saved.
That is to say, the wealthier Nenets otherwise counted on losing a certain number of animals suffering from [: ]
hoof-and-mouth disease , , heart disease, etc., to wolves. The "beneficiary" of his kindness carried
the full burden of maintaing his herd. The laborer's family ate rotten meat and wore out its foot–
wear and tent in chasing after the herd of the kulak relative. The few reindeer remain–
ing to the poorer Nenets usually succumbed rapidly to fistulas upon the first appear–
ance of greenery in the spring, and to the other diseases which exhausted animals readily
fell victim to. The survivors, accustomed to running in a small herd, usually kept to
the outside of the patrons herd, and soon were pulled down by [: ] wolves.
When reduced to this state, the poor Nenets became a farm laborer pure and simple,
receiving as annual payment three [: ] or four female reindeer, while the other members
of his family worked for their board alone. It was only on rare occasions, in years
free of epidemics of cattle disease, that such laborers accumulated herds sufficient
to enable them again to become independent. [: ] The others remained laborers all
their lives.
In addition to the burden of merchants and kulaks, the Nentsy suffered at the hands
of the church. Although efforts to convert them dated from the end of the 18th century,
Pyrerko reports that in 1912 whole stacks of wooden idols were still being carted out
of the tundra by the [: ] Orthodox priests exactly as had been done in 1825-30 and
earlier. Those who had been converted contributed part of their hard-won reindeer and
furs as tithes, believing that these sacrifices were necessary to propitiate the new gods.

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These contributions had been sufficient to build two churches at Telvisochnoe, one at
Koseva and a bell-tower at Yugorskii Shar. These structures represented splendor and
riches [: ] immeasurable in the eyes of the Nenets. "Needless to say", Pyrerko adds,
"no little passed into the hands of the [: ] earthly representative of the heavenly God."
Revolution, Civil War, First Reforms
Although, as we have seen from Schrenk, the desire for redivision of reindeer–
herds on some basis of equality was nearly 100 years old at the time of the Revolution,
the backwardness of the [: ]
[: ] Nentsy, Komi and Russians in the Arctic was such that the great up–
heaval of 1917 was something which reached them only three years later, as a backwash
of a movement originating elsewhere. The Allied intervention in Arkhangelsk , [: ]
had not affected this hinterland, [: ] but it had prevented the Soviets from reaching it.
Finally, when the [: ] representatives of the new government did come to this area, inci–
dents such as the following occurred. In August or September of 1920 a motorboat full
of Red soldiers and organizers reached Logorskii Shar. They convened a gathering of
the Nentsy, and questioned them with regard to the merchants. They inquired about the traders' their
names, their arms, and whether or not they had fought with the anti-Soviet armies on
the fronts of the Civil War, now just ended. But the Nentsy, fearful of all Russians
from the outside, and, in the case of some of the poorest, having been promised much
by the kulaks, answered as follows, according to Pyrerko:
"These are our neighbors, good Russians. They have come here from the Pechora to
fish, and not to trade."
The kulaks, for their part, knowing of the Revolution and the policies of the
Bolsheviks, had concealed the furs they had received, fearing a search. Questioning of
the Russian traders was put off for the morrow, after the meeting, and the Communists
spent the night in their boat offshore, in view of their small numbers. The traders
used the night's grace therefore to prepare their boats and sail, put the hidden furs
aboard and quietly push out from shore. To their good fortune, they had a favorable
wind. Before departing, one of them delivered a sentimental little speech to the
Nentsy along the following lines, as Pyrerko reports it:
"Farewell, brothers and sisters. Bear us no grudge. Don't surrender us to the Reds.

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We too want to live, and look upon God's heaven with these eyes."
Then they and their wives embraced their Nenets reindeer herders. as equals. Apparently
this the device, and pledges of faithfulness taken before holy ikons, was effective, worked, for the traders
slipped away unhindered. Thereafter, the Komi and Russian kulaks went "underground",
becoming pure and simple reindeer-keepers to all appearances, and concealing the
true extent and nature of their possessions. They pictured themselves as being
of assistance to the new regime in that they provided a marketable surplus from their
reindeer-keeping, which the poor, of course, could not. However, in order to be sure
that the Soviet regime would not classify them as "exploiters", they did reduce their
herds to some extent by slaughter and sale. Further, they organized cooperatives
which actually consisted of the old merchant-usurers operating in the old manner
under a new name. The priest also sought protection from prosecution as a non-producer
by joining a newly-organized cooperative of Nentsy, becoming its bookkeeper and, in
actuality, guiding spirit.
When the New Economic Policy was introduced in 1922, for the purpose of [: ]
reopening channels of trade through private initiative until the government and
national consumers' cooperatives gained sufficient experience to take over this
field, the kulaks emerged in their old role and re-appeared in the tundra, offering
for sale the stocks of manufactures, tobacco and vodka they had secreted during the
previous two years. Some were engaged as salaried experts by the government and
cooperative purchasing and distribution agencies. By 1925, however, the national
economy was well on the road to recovery from the effects of six years of World War I
and Civil War, and the government had again turned to a policy of squeezing out the
private merchant. The bulk of the traders in the Nenets tundra had been smoked out, [: ]
but the kulak reindeer-owners sought a new means of living off profit, rather than
their own la bor, as Soviet principles demanded. This was not difficult, as the
government's organizers in this area had little knowledge of its problems and were
assigned to it for terms of only a single year's duration, while the new native
Soviets did not as yet have the experience or enjoy the prestige necessary to deal
with the situation on their own. The native kulaks took advantage of the government's policy

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of encouraging minor peoples, to appear offer themselves as examples of initiative
and articulateness among them. The only literate people being kulaks, it was they
who provided local newspaper editors with the articles so avidly sought from the
pens of these forgotten peoples themselves. Again, as in the first two years before
the New Economic Policy, they described themselves as ordinary reindeer-raisers,
successful in providing a marketable surplus. Their influence, and the ignorance and
backwardness of the rank-and-file, was such, that as late as 1928, the Chairman of
the County Executive Committee in the Bolshezemelskaia Tundra was one of the wealthiest
men in the area, Peitama Pashko. and Moreover, he was sent to the All-Union Congress
of Soviets in Moscow [: ] as a Representative from that area. He was, in addition moreover , a
member of the Executive Committee of the Komi Region. Thus, he headed the government
of an area with more than 5,000 people, and was a standing member of that of an
area with amost 300,000 a quarter of a million.
However, in 1925 the foundation had been laid for the education of the northern
peoples en masse, and their involvement in the course of Soviet affairs. This found–
ation was the organization of the Committee of the North for Assistance to the Small
Nationalities of the North[: ,] under the All-Union Central Executive Committee (Congress
of the U.S.S.R.). It opened the first schools and hospitals, and in 1929 organized and 1930
established the present National Okrugs (Areas), of which the one under our considera–
tion was the first. [: ] The attitude toward
these nationalities taken by Soviet representatives - teachers, medical personnel,
journalists, political figures - and the impression the Nentsy made upon them is
given very well by Viktorin Popov, a Russian, describing [: ] his [: ]
experiences in 1926. [: ] Stating that at that time the youth
was [: ] pro-Soviet and supported the efforts of the new regime to transform the
life of the tundra, he points out, however:
"But their fathers, and particularly their grandfathers, were confused at first.
in tTheir minds, embittered by years of humilitation and exploitation, struggled over
the problem of how to believe in the new, since all their lives it had turned out that

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everything new [: ] had proven turned out to be a new deceit, a new bondage? Listening to
the enthused speeches of their sons and grandsons, the elders comprehended them
but poorly....An unfortunate event in the nomads' camp was utilized by the shamans
to agitate against medicine. [: ]
[: ]
[: ] The parents of a ten-year-old boy suffering, as it turned out, from a
burst appendix, had turned to the doctor for aid too late. The boy died a day
after having been placed under medical care. After the funeral, the Secretary
of the Tundra Soviet (i.e., "mayor") addressed himself to the inhabitants of the
camp with a talk on the necessity of applying for medical care in proper time.
But the grandfather of the dead boy [: ] retorted: 'I called upon heaven –
Mother Sun, Grandfather Moon, Brother Stars, have pity on his ailment! - but the
boy has gone from us.'....The elders cried out: 'We don't need doctors!'. 'People
died without doctors and [: ] they will die with them:', said Mikhail Ledkov. But at
this point young Efim (his 17-year-old son) stepped forth. It may be that this
was his first speech to the people. (N.B. - 22 years later this same Efim Ledkov,
now an M.A. and acknowledged authority on reindeer, was delivering public lec–
tures before learned audiences in Moscow. - W.M.). With eyes cast down, he said
in a low voice, but firmly: 'You must always call the doctor as soon as you fall
ill. When the nurse made the rounds of the [: ] wigwams, she was told that no one
was sick, and then suddenly..the boy was at the point of death! The doctor - that
is good, let him do his healing...' Efim wanted to say much more, but only smiled
and fell silent. The shaman was glowering at him from beneath frowning brows.
But behind these few words, pronounced with the stubbornness of conviction, one
felt the appearance of a new type of youth in the tundra."
[: ] With the doctor, the journalist and the official, a philogist had been
sent in, as part of this first team in 1926, so as to begin the process of setting
the Nenets tongue down on paper, and thereby paving the way for education founded
on the sound basis of the language of the people themselves. He was confronted with

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difficulties equal , if different to those met by the doctor. [: ] Popov, describ–
ing an interview between the linguist, Asafev, and the same elderly Mikhail
Ledkov, reports it as follows:
"Investigating the morphology of the language for the compilation of the
first Nenets disctionary, the linguist was confronted with [: ] great obstacles.
The Nenets was on his guard. What would come of this? 'I want,' said Asafev,
'your people to have its own written language, said Asafev, and that is why I am interested
in your words.' 'But what for is that needed for? What for do you need our words for?'
'The Russian can write,' replied Asafev, 'he can read books, but when you go
to the Government store and turn in skins, and they write it down, you don't
even know how many are written down....Well, tell me, how would this sentence
go in your language - Paul and Peter went to hunt polar fox.' 'Which Paul?', the
Ledkov [: Nenete] asked incredulously. [: ] An abstract Paul was incomprehensible to him.
The philologist replied: 'Paul - Novozemelov's son.' 'And which Peter?' 'Well,
Kirill's son.' Silence followed. 'Say in Nenets: Paul and Peter went to hunt
polar fox.' 'When was it?' Again a concrete explanation was necessary. 'It
happened last winter.' The Nenets Ledkov sat in thought for a long time, and then sud–
denly, as though remembering, jumped up, saying: 'Last winter Paul was at
Varandeia, and Peter followed the edge of the forst. How could they have been
hunting polar fox together?' Efim, the son, sat in the corner with an ironic
smile on his face. 'Well, all right,' the exhausted Asafev Asafev, by now exhausted, conceded, 'it
wasn't last winter, but some other time.' Ledkov finally translated the sent–
ence into his dialect, but out of caution, not trusting his memory - after all,
who knows what actually happened that 'other time' - substituted the name of
one Ivan for Peter."
The training of educated and competent native leaders is [: ] typified by
the story of young Efim [: ] Ledkov. (The [: ] clan name, Ledko, had long
since been Russified by the addition of the final consonant.) In the Fall of
1926 the local League of Communist Youth sent him to study at the [: ] Institute
of the Peoples of the North, founded the previous year at Leningrad. The diffi–

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culties of the trip itself, of which he had been warned by the rare Nentsy who had been
to the "mainland", as it was called, reflect his determination to break with tradition.
Five days of seasickness on a small vessel on route to Arkhangelsk, followed by the
sight of a frightening multitude of masts taller than anything in the tundra, and sawmills
illuminated brightened at night by electric light, were as nothing compared to the bright-eyed,
honking little houses that ran around the streets like maddened reindeer and bore straight
down upon the passer by. Sleeping in the close , fly confines of the Peasants' Hotel
was beyond his will-power, and he sat on the steps all the first night. Arrived in Lenin–
grad, he refused for months to sleep in a bed, between sheets, and in underclothing, nor could he
become accustomed to the fact that it made a difference where one did or did not expec–
torate. The food was not to his taste. Study ing did not come easily easy to this youth in his
late teens sitting before a desk for the first time in his life, and his eyes, far-sighted
as with all Nentsy, soon tired from the printed page. He literally beat his head against
the wall for refusing to understand what it should! On occasion, the hectic urban life
so unnerved him that, without telling anyone, he fled to the woods outside the city and
camped beneath a fir tree for days on end.
In 1929, Popov again encountered young Ledkov in the tundra, returned after three
years of schooling. This was a new man, self-confident and business-like. He now wandered
the broad tundra with his nomadic fellow tribesmen arguing the merits of collective
enterprise. [: ] Popov heard him address a session of the tundra Soviet on one occasion.
The members had feasted on fish and onions, [: ] crackers and huge quantities of tea.
They now loosened their belts, stretched their fur outer garments beneath them and, with
their clothes open, reclined on the benches and the floor as they were accustomed to
rest on reindeer skins in their wigwams. Efim [: ] listed the merits of cooperative labor.
It would result in bringing large numbers of Nentsy into a single place, provide a con–
siderable working force, and then they could group themselves accordingly, some fishing
the lakes, others hunting [: ] sea mammals, still others pasturing reindeer.
That would make it possible to have veterinaries to serve the herds and save them from
illness. Living in a single place, a school, a hospital and a clubhouse could be built.
[: ] Efim told of carrying his message
all the way from Telvisochania to Yugorskii Shar, a distance of 500 miles. but which had

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been much longer for him, Actually, he had travelled much farther than that, as he had visited every wigwam en route, and had walked almost
the entire distance.
"But the kulaks and shamans weave all kinds of fairy tales, and the Nentsy fear
the collective farm idea," he declared with heat. "There is yet much explanation to
be done....In other places machines are coming into use. You can't tie a machine to
a reindeer's tail, but we do need [: ] nets, motor boats, traps and guns....Through
the collective farms, our land will find a brighter life."
His father interrupted, shouting: "He wants to make a new tundra. That can't be.
One reindeer is different from the next. Each has its own nature. How then can all
the Nentsy be grouped together, when we are all different. I want to trap furs, when
some one else chooses to sleep....There is a collective on Vaigach Island, and there
has already been a [: ] fight."
"Drunkards always [: ] brawl," Efim replied. "There have been
few fights in the collectives."
An old man rose and [: ] said, referring to the argument between the Ledkovs:
"If father and son can't get along, then how can we all work together? I have to go
to Novaia Zemlia, a second to Varandeia, a third beyond the Urals. How can we go to–
gether? And who shall say where the owl will fly, where the polar fox will go?"
Efim argued [: ] tirelessly against all objections. He proposed to set up, by
way of a start, [: ] cooperative sealing hunting after the mammals of the sea, They
would rid themselves of the ir dangerous [: ] rowboats, sailing craft and jointly
operate from a motor boat, and then, when this proved itself, cautiously move on to
collective reindeer breeding.
Despite Mikhail Ledkov's opposition to the collective farm idea, he had been af–
fected by the new way of life himself, as far back as 1929. There was a sewing machine
and a radio in his wigwam.
1930: Beginning of Major Change in Nenets Way of Life
Beginning with 1930, we have a mass of published material from the pens of Nentsy
themselves, appearing first in the occasional periodical, Taiga i Tundra , issued
by the Regional Study Group of the Institute of the Peoples of the North. These articles
are brief and business-like. They inform us of the organization of the first collective
[: ] farm as a result of the efforts of Ledkov and others. one so small that only

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At first only six families joined it. But, having acquainted ourselves [: ] with the state
of mind of the Nentsy at that time, let us examine the changes in their economic posi–
tion from the time of Engelhardt's study in the late '90s. [: ]
[: ]
[: ] Taleeva, a Nenets woman student at the Institute of the Peoples
of the North [: ], presents a picture of standards of property in 1930 [: ]
[: ]
[: ]
[: ]
[: ] different from that of Engelhardt in 1898. According to
her, [: ] owners of more than 100 reindeer tended to employ a herder, and therefore
should be classed as kulaks. The "middle", i.e., merely self-sufficient, owner, had
80 to 100 head, and the poor Nenets usually had 30 to 40 head. It was, however, only
those with less than this number, usually with 10 or less, who found wage labor better
than the [: ] starvation their negligible herds condemned them to.
The wealthies t , according to her, had only 300 to 400 head. As that is a far smaller
[: ] maximum than recorded by Engelhardt, one may ascribe this to the following changes,
aside from the possibility of error in either case. (As to that possibility, it
would seem more logical to accept the word of a Nenets that owners of more than 100
tended to employ herders than that of a Germen-Russian governor writing on the basis
of a single visit of his own and the data compiled by previous Russian investigators
that it was only the owners of 500 or more who engaged herdsmen.) In the first place,
it is certain that the herd of 6,000 owned by the wealthiest single Nenets, if it
still existed at the time of the Revolution, was confiscated and made the basis of a
an exemplary state -owned farm. So, probably, were those of the owners of 1,000 or more, and,
less surely, those of 500 or more. In all, this would have affected 28 families. That would account for the origin of state-owned
herds numbering 28,000 in 1932. Secondly, we have already seen reference to efforts
of well-to-do families to conceal their status by reducing their herds to norms accept–
able under the Soviets, by slaughter or sale.
It is also evident that the status of the herder had improved markedly in Soviet
times. Whereas his annual wage had been three or four reindeer per year before the
Revolution, it was now ten for an adult, and one to five for a child. Taleeva's shaman,

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however, evidently enjoying greater prestige than an ordinary kulak due to his spiritual
power ' s, apparently felt free to pay an adult herdsman only five reindeer per year
if he deemed the man's work to be unsatisfactory. Despite the regulations, dating
from 1835, [: ] prohibiting labor contracts of more than a single year's duration,
it was still customary in 1930 that for arrangements for two and three years to be made,
and five-year contract agreements were not out of the ordinary. The husband, in a
family reduced to laboring for others, would not only herd the deer, but hunt for
his employer in the winter, while the wife would perform various household duties.
Children were usually hired for the summer only fishing season only.
Wage laborers were usually made fine promises before being hired, and treated
well at first, but more and more poorly as time went on. Written agreements under
Soviet law were entered into only in the villages, and then not registered with the
authorities. Among the nomads there were no written agreements. It happened upon oc–
casion, as late as 1930, than an employer did not pay wages at all. One such instance
was known to Taleeva, but when the worker took it to court, he got more than the or–
iginal agreement called for. The only difference between the situation at that date
and in pre-Soviet times, except for the more than doubled annual wage in reindeer,
was that employers of labor were subject to disfranchisement by vote of a "town meeting",
and [: ] usually were deprived of the vote. However, economic change had advanced beyond that stage at
least [: ] insofar as fishing was concerned, for the existing fishermen's cooperative
would provide tackle to the Nenets who had none of his own, and he was therefore no
longer obliged to hire himself out to a richer man who would take the lion's share
of the catch. But drunkenness was still a plague. It still occurred that a Nenets
would exchange a pelt worth 80 rubles for a bottle of vodka worth one-and-a-half.
In the field of education, more impressive beginnings had been made by 1930,
but the difficulties were great. The absence of lumber for permanent buildings in the
tundra , and the need to haul it upstream through shallow rivulets dictated a tremendous
expenditure of time and means for the construction of each school. There were, at
that time, four schools. Two were, respectively, at Kolva and Khoseda-Khard, and
were located in buildings specially erected for the purpose, and therefore satisfac–
tory for the time being. The others, at Siavta and Madora, were in private homes, not

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really suitable for use as schools. The same room had to serve as school, dormitory
for the students (children of nomads who were themselves on the move) and residence
for the teacher. Despite that, the owners [: ] charged high prices for the rental of
these rooms. Moreover, the landlords conducted a business in bootleg liquor on the
side. Despite this environment, hardly ideal for education, it was claimed that the
schools had succeeded in winning the sympathy of the adult population. The students
at Kolva numbered 40, and were all children of non-nomadic Nentsy. The Khoseda-Khard
school had 45 pupils, all children of nomads, with the exception of a very few whose
parents were only semi-nomadic. The other two fell into the latter category: nomads
and semi-nomads. The total attendance of 165 was deemed quite a triumph, in view of
the nomads fear that something might happen to their children, their difficulty in
understanding the usefulness of education, and the fundamental fact that the children
were needed as shepherds, trappers, and the like. The arguments against the schools
were familiar: "Our [: ] forefathers got along without education, so we and they (the
children) will live our time without it." "The fur animals in the tundra shan't dis–
appear, and the Russian muzhik won't stop sowing grain, so we won't die from hunger,
and there's no purpose to learning."
The chief A considerable problem was presented at that time by the great dis–
tance which had to be travelled by anyone desiring to go beyond the elementary school
of four years. It was proposed that such children be provided with a per diem allowance and [: ]
expenses en route. Another problem arose from the fact that the success of education
depended, in the last analysis, upon the teacher's knowledge of the language of the
Nentsy , and of their conditions of life, and also upon the teacher's [: ] persever–
ance. It was therefore deemed essential that teachers be trained from among the Nentsy
themselves, for which the first step was to make it materially possible for them to
go beyond four years of schooling., through the foregoing proposal.
In 1930 there was one "Cultural Base". It had been erected at Khoseda-Khard,
in the heart of the tundra, on the route of the annual nomadic migration, and therefore
at a most appropriate spot. It enjoyed exceptionally good response on the part of the
Nentsy, because it represented to them the most tangible evidence that the new govern–
ment was spending large sums for their betterment. The center had a doctor, a teacher,

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a radio which received Moscow, and a portable movie projector which was out of order.
The radio won credence only when the Nentsy recognized the voices of their own child–
ren broadcasting in their own tongue, from Moscow. At that time there were, as yet,
no libraries, or "Red wigwams", i.e., traveling education and recreation centers.
Two of them were scheduled to be established shortly . thereafter.
- [: ]
[: ]
It was at about this time, i.e., 1929-30, that the provisions for self-government
began to win the confidence of, and sink roots, among the rank-and-file Nentsy. We
[: ] have already pointed out that, as late as 1928, wealthy elements played a prominent and
even dominant role in the native Soviets, [: ] "if only because
no others were available", according to a Nenets named Khata, writing in 1930. How–
ever, with five years of experience in the election of local nomad Soviets (there were
half-a-dozen by that date, apparently governing roughly a thousand Nentsy each), and
of [: ] "county" Soviets at fixed locations for each of the three, these bodies
began to acquire authority. A clear measure of that [: ] was the increased attend–
ance of the "active" at meetings of the Soviets, and consultation with them. the "active". This is a body of civic–
minded individuals, usually persons with prestige in the community, which it is regular
[: ] practice, in the USSR, to establish at each level of government.
It is of interest to note that, at that time, the Nentsy considered [: ] service as a
member of the Soviet to be a duty incumbent upon all, so that if one men serve d for
one year, another would be chosen the next. One weakness during those years at that time was that due
to inexperience, the Chairman of the Soviet, i.e., the Mayor, was not actually the
leader in public affairs, but an advisor to the Secretary, or Executive, who was ap–
parently named, or at least nominated, from above. Another difficulty at that time
was that the local Soviets then had no [: ] income of their own, but depended entirely
upon funds from higher levels. Apparently there was no direct taxation whatever, , and
it was being suggested that a direct tax be levied upon the more prosperous so as to
give local government some financial independence.
Another interesting phenomenon is the fact that the courts were entirely native,
included involved elected jurors (two jurors sitting with each judge, and having equal rights

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with him) and based themselves on local customary law where it did not contradict
Soviet law. Many civil cases at that time dealt with complaints as much as 15 years old,
[: ] (apparently there was no [: ] statute of limitations), for it
was only then that, for the first time, courts were available which would hear with
sympathy the grievances of the poor against the rich. Divorce, theft and alimony [: ]
cases were being brought to the courts, indicating that they had gained acceptance
among the people. [: ] One case, of a criminal nature, is of particu–
lar importance because it marked the reversal of a century-old trend leading to the
exhaustion of the reindeer moss. To preserve the moss , particularly near a localit y[: ,]
subject to glare ice conditions under which reindeer would starve, the native Soviet
had marked off a reserved areas where the grazing of reindeer was prohibited. When one
Nenets trespassed, with his herd, upon the reservation, he was fined fifty rubles by
the [: ] nomad Soviet. He not only paid but expressed agreement with the sentence,
indicating the beginning of a new attitude social attitude toward the most important
source of wealth in that area.
The chief police function of the Soviet at that time was directed against bootlegging.
A legal [: ] liquor store at Ust-Tsylma in the Komi territory - the traditional
source of goods of commodities of all kinds for the Nenets tundra - provided a ready
source of supply for the black-market bettlegging dealers. The taste for liquor was still so strong
that the Nentsy paid them three [] times the store price. Moreover, far from denouncing
them the bootleggers to the authorities, the Nentsy sometimes helped to conceal them. But there were also However, their
signs of a changing attitude, attitude began to change, particularly among those more publicly-minded. On once occa–
ion, when a meeting of the nomad Soviets was called near Yugorskii Shar, and many
households assembled from dozens of miles around, a bootlegger set up his tent [: ]
at the edge of the group, and began to distill homebrew in addition to selling purchased
stock. To his great surprise, he was reported and arrested.
The road to Iimprovement in the work of the Soviets was seen, at that time, to consist of greater
attention to [: ] securing election of members from among the poorer elements, and
effort to bring about the location of the Soviet at a fixed point, so that its work
could take on more regular and organized character.
As in all portions of the Soviet Union, the effort to change the way of life toward

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socialism as understood by Stalin and his associates, was centered on the recruitment
of membership for the Communist Party, the Communist League of Youth, and the Young
Pioneers' (children's) organization. These individuals and the local clubs into which
they were organized, were deemed to be the channels through which the population could
be taught the new ideology and moved in the desired direction. At first the Communist
Party attracted very few members, because, as we have seen above, the adults were slow
to move toward a new w ay of life. The Youth League was, therefore, the center of effort.
The first branch of this organization was set up among the Nentsy in 1925, eight years
after the Revolution. Two years later, the organization of a school at the Nenets
Cultural Base resulted in attracting some more young people, and a second branch was
organized. A third came into being at [: ] another location in the same year. In
1929 there were three members of the Communist Party among the Nentsy, 35 members of
the Youth League, and 56 of the children's organization. Of this total number of 91,
22 came from the poorest element: reindeer-less wage laborers, while the rest came
from the lower and middle groups of reindeer-owners. The most active of the three
organizations was the Youth League: the Party was too small, and the children's organi–
zation could, obviously, not be influential to any great degree. The members of the
Youth League took the lead in advancing new ideas before the Soviets (as in the case
of Ledkov's plea for the use of doctors, [: ] cited above), and
in organizing and maintaining cooperative stores, collective enterprise and reading–
tents (libraries). But the organization complained that it suffered from absence of
leadership on the part of experienced adult Communists, and also that it was not given
[: ] educational guidance in the execution of certain of its projects. Specifically,
one of its avowed functions was the struggle against religious belief, which was equated
with superstition and unwillingness to adopt new ways of life in medicine, education,
economic matters and government. But the shamans could not be exposed unless a compre–
hensible, scientific explanation of the mysteries in which they dealt could be were offered
in their stead.
The beginning of improvement of the status of women in the among the Nentsy also dates from the
early '30s. Writing in 1930, the same Taleeva whom we quoted earlier in another con–
nection states;

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"Hard is the life of the Nenets woman. She is still under the domination of her
husband, and prior to marriage, under the unlimited power of her father. While dwell–
ing under her father's roof a girl does not at all prepare herself for the idea of
marriage, for she considers herself young, while her father already thinks of how to
dispose of his daughter and receive a large marriage payment for her. [: ]
At times it happens that she will be given away without payment (N.B. - The inference
is, to get rid of the need of maintaining her. - W.M.) Thus, [: ] my aunt's little girl
was given in marriage when she was only twelve years old, and [: ] the [: ] groom was
twenty. That happened this year. (My emphasis - W.M.)....It is chiefly the rich whose
daughters are bought and sold for payment. It happens, too, among the poor, but less
often. The payment may be between 40 and 100 head of reindeer, or it may be in polar
foxes. A typical example is one in which the husband paid 40 reindeer, while the wife
brought as dowry six reindeer and all her own requirements in clothing.
"When a girl is married off, her father clothes her for three years. After three
years, if she has a good mother-in-law, the latter will clothe her. If not, her father
has to, during the fourth year and even longer. Upon marriage, the bride has a rest
from work for a day or two, but then she is compelled to work, and is forever being
reminded: 'You work! A large purchase price was paid for you.' And the poor girl
begins to carry a burden of labor beyond her [: ] strength. ...
"Our Nenets woman plays a big role in the economy. She does all the housework,
goes out to pasture the reindeer and even, upon occasion, participates in the hunt.
Work is all she knows. Without her husband's permission She may go nowhere without
her husband's permission. More than that, she may not even converse with another man,
unless her husband he approves. While that custom has begun to disappear in certain places, it
remains in force in the tundra where there are as yet few good (government) workers."
The writer goes on to point out that the woman gives birth out of doors, or in
the wigwam if no one is home. She may give birth unassisted, or with the assistance
of an old woman. Afterwards she carries the child herself, although yet hardly able
to stand on her feet. There was, by that date, as yet virtually no education in hygiene.
If there were at least a "Red wigwam", Taleeva urged, it would be possible to orga–
nize education in hygiene. The settled Nentsy were better off, as a hospital was already
available for them. It was difficult to draw women into educat. convince women to learn to read and write.

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educat ional activities. If one said to a women: "Attend the school for adults", she would
reply, reply not without truth, that she was already aged and her eyes were bad, although
she might not yet be 25 years old. One got this sort of reply in the villages. As for getting
tundra women to attend school, that was even harder.
Things were still bad as far as drawing women into public life was concerned., Taleeva complained. Men formed
the majority of [: ] those attending the annual general meeting of the
population called by the Soviet. Nevertheless, the Chairman of one of the six native Soviets
was a women, and several were members of the governing board of the consumers' cooperative.
For the future, However, young girls were attending the schools that had been opened, and that would change
things in the Future. Taleevax proposed that [: ] competent women be sent to the tundra to draw the
native women into public affairs. Some, including herself, were being trained at the Institute
of the Peoples of the North and at the Arkhangelsk [: ] Normal School.
A year later, in 1931 another writer Nenets writer, while still describing the position of the
Nenets woman in the darkest terms for the most part, points to beginnings of a new way of
life:
"Now the woman is beginning to raise her voice against her oppression from [: ] time im–
memorial. She is beginning to understand her rights and participate in public affairs. It is
[: ] now no longer rare (My emphasis -W.M.) for marriage to occur by mutual agreement of a man
and a woman. And the purchase and sale of wives is beginning to recede into the background,
despite all the tirades to the contrary on the part of those of the older generation who
are attempting to maintain the old customs. And the relations between husband and wife are
improving, i.e., the husband resorts to force less frequently. The chief obstacle to the
elimination of all the old customs is the ignorance of the Nenets woman. She has grown ac–
customed to her regarding her downtrodden position as normal and this interferes with efforts
to induce her to end her illiteracy.
"In this connection the question arises as to how that eternal ignorance and illiteracy
is to be eliminated under cirumstances wherein the Nentsy wander from three to six months in
the year and there is an absence of civic personnel from among the women themselves. It is
necessary, in the areas of nomadic life, to establish schools of literacy during the summer
time, when the Nentsy camp near the lakes and engage in fishing. Schools can be maintained
for three to four months during this period.....Women have begun to visit the hospital in con–
nection with childbirth, but they do not remain the full period, le

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leave for home and turn to the shaman for help....
"Despite this situation, women are beginning to participate in the government of
their country, [: ] in the Soviets, the cooperatives and the government
stores. For example, recently, while engaging in my practice field work, I often [: ]
[: ] witnessed the participation of women in the [: ] discussions at meet–
ings I conducted....Suggestions: It is essential to undertake political education work
among women, with women in charge. Medical personnel must be trained from among the
native population. Day nurseries should be organized at the government and collective
reindeer farms."
1932: Results Become Evident .
The suggestions made in the numerous articles cited above, dating from 1930 and,
in the last case, from 1931, and constituting the first published writings by Nentsy
in their entire history, were evidently put into effect with considerable rapidity, as
was the government's program, now that it had a group of trained graduates of the Insti–
tute of the Peoples of the North through whom to work. There were now ten Nentsy in attend–
ance at the Institute, excluding the graduates of previous years. The following year there were forty. Far more important –
revolutionary, in fact - was the extension of schooling to 60% of the children in the
tundra, and all those living in the settlements. Additional vessels had been added to
the Pechora River and coastal lines, enabling more effective supply to the area and
quicker marketing. The building of port facilities at the mouth of the Pechora, and
of the new town of Narian-Mar, had begun. 60% of the Nenets families engaged in fishing
and sealing had formed collectives for that portion of their economy, as Efim Ledkov
had [: ] urged them to, three years earlier. Moreover, there were now seven
collectives of reindeer-owners, with a total common herd of 20,000 head. The average
collective herd, therefore, numbering almost 3,000, was seven times as large as that
of the first tiny experimental collective in 1930, wherein six families, totalling 24
persons, had pooled a total wealth consisting of 396 reindeer, 62 freight sledges,
18 passenger sleds, four rifles and shotguns, 12 traps, some nets and the like. Modest
as this beginning had been, other Nentsy were attracted to the collective idea because
of the generous credits given it by the government, which was convinced that such enter–
prises would be solvent. In the first year, it had bought 200 reindeer with four years to

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pay. It had also been able to obtain 20 lbs. of heavy fishing line, 10 traps, four un–
tanned hides, 65 lbs. of rope, lassoes, etc. The quantities are negligible, but the
fact that this assistance was [: ] available to collectives, and that they were able to
become successful through such assistance, was an argument which outweighted the kulaks'
blunt threat to hang those who joined up. Kulaks who had found there their way into posts
of responsibility in government, and the government trading posts were ousted, and there
had begun the process of actually depriving them of their wealth, on the grounds that it
represented the fruits of years of exploitation of the people, and should be returned to
them. On this basis, houses, fur clothing and boots beyond the minimum needed to cover
themselves, and similar inventory had been taken away, but they had been permitted to
maintain - up to this point, at least - ownership of the large herds of reindeer that
enabled them to employ others and derive profit thereform. The problems now deemed to be
most pressing were of a constructive nature: the modernization of the fishing, trapping and
and hunting, and the improvement of means of communications and transport. A radio station
at Narian-Mar now reduced the time for receipt and transmission of information from weeks
to seconds.
The time was now at hand to safeguard and improve the resources of reindeer moss
[: ] upon which the livelihood of the Nentsy depended, and through which increasing prosperity
could be assured. The chief danger was from glare-ice, which made large areas of moss in–
accessible. In 1929, for example, it had cost the loss of five per cent of the adult herd
in the Timan tundra and 50% of the calves fawns had been lost by miscarriage, due to the weaken–
ing of the cow doe reindeer through hunger. [: ] Glare ice caused further suffering in that
[: ] those Nentsy who were poor in reindeer, and there–
fore were desperately in need of additional sources of food and income through sealing
along the coast, were compelled to leave that area to save their reindeer from death by
starvation. Even though the wealthy also had to do this, their herds alone were of sufficient
size to provide them with a livelihood even when they were forced away from the coast. Or,
in the opposite case, their sealing operations were large enough to let them regard the
maintenance of reindeer as secondary.
The poor er Nenets native to the coastal area who took her his herd inland to save it
from starvation was then faced with a new problem: to pasture his herds independently in

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unfamiliar territory already cropped and trodden by the thousand-strong herds of the
kulaks, or to join the kulak and seek pasture jointly, at the price of [: ]
[: ] working for him. (In fact, both worked
equally, but since the kulak's herd was the larger, usually by far, the effect was to
make the visitor from the coast in part an unpaid herdsman.)
The solution offered in 1932, and put into effect in the following years, was [: ]
framed in the following terms. The Timan tundra had had 20,000 reindeer in 1930. Their
daily requirement of 2.2 lbs. of reindeer moss per head totalled forty tons. It was im–
possible to pick and preserve so large a quantity as fodder. Therefore, when, as often
happened, the 18-inch snowfall of September and October was followed by a false spring
with rains and warmth, bringing a thaw of the undersurface combined with solidification
of the upper, and then was succeeded by a sudden frost going to −22°F., the reindeer
began to starve. To feed themselves, they dashed wildly in all directions [: ] toward
every browned-off hillock, despite the fact that every scrap of moss had long since been eaten
off it, and the Nentsy were compelled to work round-the-clock, not sleeping for days on
end, to prevent their herds from dispersing entirely.
To meet this situation it was proposed that a careful survey of the reindeer moss
resources of the entire tundra be met, and that those areas not subject to the forma–
tion of glare-ice for climatic reasons be set aside as a reserve where grazing be pro–
hibited in years without ice. Very small beginnings in this direction had been made previously, as indicated above. Specifically, the valleys of the Sula, Pisha and Oma had
been free of ice formation for a number of consecutive years. But up to 1932 it was pre–
cisely in those areas that the Komi and Nenets kulaks regularly pastured their herds.
Therefore the preservation from starvation of the herds of the poor from starvation and the struggle
against the kulaks merged into a single problem. In answer to those officials who believed
that Nenets nomadism was entirely [: ] without pattern, irregular , i.e., one day on the mainland, the next
on an island, [: ] the Nenets writer, O. Evsiugin, who proposed the solution we have de–
scribed, pointed out that this was not the case. On the other hand, each family followed
a regular course 90 to 120 miles in radius, making [: ] camp at the same spots each spring,
each summer, and so forth, where he it left caches of food, sledges, etc. and the like. During the summer,
when mosquitoes appeared in force, the reindeer circled rapidly in dense masses and
trampled down the moss. It was therefore proposed to build corrals, and also to keep

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the reindeer away from the best moss grounds during this period. The corrals were needed
to avoid the ruination of the moss over an area half a mile in diameter used for round-up
purposes. If a single area were used even as often as once in five years, the moss would
not return. Therefore the Nentsy, to keep the reindeer fed under these conditions, moved
the round-up from year to year, but only succeeded thereby in enlarging the area where
the moss was trampled out.
Another indication of progress lay in the increasing willingness of the Nentsy to
subject their herds to vaccination. In 1927-28 only five permitted this to be done, and
700 head were vaccinated, but by 1930 forty agreed, and 17,000 reindeer were protected.
In 1932 it was proposed to attain 100% vaccination against anthrax in the following two
years. That was carried out. Finally, it was proposed to prohibit entirely summer entry
into the Kanin Peninsula without permission of the veterinary and local government, as
that area was free of anthrax and could be preserved entirely against infection [: ] by
such a measure.
Nenets Participation in Public Life
The result of all these measures was a an abselutely unprecedented drawing together
of the Nentsy and their participation in public life. In March of 1932 the first effort
was made to hold a "convention" of the most successful reindeer-raisers. Never having been Unprecedented
done before, and poorly prepared, its chief value lay in that it set a precedent. But the second such gathering, in
December, 1933, was of an entirely different character. In the first place, 115 persons
were in attendance - a vast gathering large conclave for a nomadic tribe. 64 of these were only visitors
to a fair being held at the new town of Narian-Mar, but 51 were actual delegates. They
included 15 representatives of cooperative reindeer-herding enterprises, 33 from collective
farms (i.e., enterprises in which all activities, including sealing, fishing and hunting,
were cooperative), 7 more from exploratory committees investigating the desirability of
setting up cooperatives, three herdsmen from state-owned farms, and eight individual
reindeer-herders. Thus, every element but the kulak employers of labor [: ] was repre–
sented. Almost half the delegates - 25 of 51 - could read and write. This represented an enormous step
forward. Only 10% of the delegates had been literate at the first gathering 21 months
earlier. This time half the delegates were members of the Communist Party or Youth League,
whereas, on the previous occasion, only one in 20 had belonged to either of those organi–

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zations. Since they were the fundamental policy-making bodies, it was of basic import–
ance that the Nentsy were now [: ] well represented in them.
A further indication of the efforts made to involve make participation in public
affairs accessible to the largest number is the fact that the delegates spoke their
native tongues - Nenets, Komi and Russian in that order - and interpreters translated
from one to the other. [: ]
[: ]
The order of business included the most important problems before the inhabitants of
the tundra: (1) reorganization of the economy of the tundra along socialist lines;
(2) producers' - as distinct from consumers' - cooperatives, and the strengthening of
those organizations administratively and economically; (3) the state of reindeer–
breeding and the [: ] effort to increase the total head.
The subjects touched on by the 62 persons who took the floor showed the broadest
[: ] vision, practicality and the conviction that their [: ] words would not
be wasted, as their decisions would carry weight. be listened to and acted upon by the government. In addition to the three major points
listed above, they discussion embraced included the execution of the annual plans (economic planning had
reached this area by that date) for fur trapping and fish catch, the [: ] proper
allocation of the labor force in the collective and state farms, the [: ] best means
of distributing cooperative income so as to provide the fullest incentives, the struggle
against the power of the kulaks and the influence of the shamans in the tundra, cultural
and political uplift of the tundra population, and the erection of schools, hospitals, Red
tents, farmers' hostels, cor r als, etc.
Some of the speakers' remarks were of particular interest. A farm laborer reported
that in his area the chairman of the joint-pasturing cooperative had been the local shaman,
who had refused to accept him and one other poor man with few reindeer to contribute, and
had sabotaged the cooperative by pasturing the reindeer in bad spots, [: ]
and had had the animals them tramp down good areas. others. He had finally been removed from his post and excluded
from the cooperative. A collective-farm gang-leader suggested that a corral half-a-mile
in diameter be built for sick reindeer so as to protect them from wolves. "a hospital
for reindeer, so to speak". He said that his farm would do that immediately. Another

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speaker, shepherd on the state farm, complained that it was poorly run. Some were Individusals had been given
jobs as [: ] shepherds who had had no experience with reindeer. They lost the reindeer and
themselves got lost in the tundra. The farm executives rarely left their office s to get
out in the tundra and inspect observe the herds at first hand. They used the pastures badly, and
didn't know how to feed the reindeer properly.
The early errors made in organizing collective farms, and their correction, were
described by a speaker who pointed out that when his farm was first organized in 1931, all
the reindeer, tents, sledges and dogs had been pooled. This had resulted in irresponsible
attitudes toward the joint property. Later the tents, sledges and a portion of the rein–
deer had been restored to private ownership, so that the collective efforts could be
centered on reindeer-keeping, while the members would individually have a few reindeer
for transport purposes. This resulted in an improvement in the state of affairs in the
collective.
As the convention met in Narian-Mar, this afforded an opportunity to acquaint the
delegates at first hand with urban life and the industrial plans for their area. They were
taken to the lumber-mill, the print-shop, the brick-works and to construction sites, and
the purpose and operation of these various enterprises explained to them. In the form of badges and arm-bands. [: t]hey were also
given visible mementos of their participation in this, for the Nentsy, truly historic
occasion. In the form of badges and arm-bands. By way of con c rete [: ] reward for the
good work that had caused them to be elected delegates, they had each received a suit of
underwear and a sweater. This had had the additional hygienic function of teaching them to
use underwear. The three best cooperatives and the half-dozen outstanding individuals
were given prizes, in the form of rifles and cash awards equivalent to two or three months' pay which served, of course, as incentives to others in the future. [: in]
in the form of rifles and cash awards equivalent to two or three months' pay. Finally, the
speeches, resolutions and proposals of the gathering were published in the Russian and
Nenets languages, and distributed broadcast widely through the tundra. Summarizing the results
of the meeting, the head of the Communist Party in the Nenets Okrug offered the view that:
"If some stranger had come in entered during a session of the convention, he would not have be–
lieved that those seated here, who were engaged in solving the problems of the socialist
reorganization of life in the tundra, were Nentsy, formerly oppressed and suppressed by
the Tsarist government."

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[: ]
1934: Fundamental Changes Completed
By January, 1934, the Nenets language had been reduced to writing, and a Latinized
alphabet created. (A few years, later, however, a Russian-type alphabet had to be substi–
tuted, because the former arrangement had proved an obstacle to the learning of the Rus–
sian language, [: ] spoken by the majority of the inhabitants of the Okrug - the new urban
population of Narian-Mar, etc. - and also the language [: ] of science and culture
in the Soviet Union.) Eight Nenets-language schools were functioning in the tundra among
the nomadic majority of the native population. The number of Nenets children at school
had multiplied four-fold since 1929, and 57% of the children of school age were now [: ]
in the classroom. Literacy among the adult population had increased from less than one
per cent - and that in Russian, for there was no Nenets script - to 12%, and the publication
of a Nenets primer was speeding that process greatly. A new primer published in mid-1934
appeared in a printing of 8,200 copies. It was evidently designed for the Nentsy east of
of Siberia as well as those of Europe, judging by the size of the edition. Its contents
make it worthy of some description here.
In the first place, it is lavishly and well illustrated in black-and-white by
artists who obviously made their drawings from life in the Nenets country. Trees, animals,
people, sledges, tools, work in progress, buildings and the like are all faithful repro–
ductions of reality in that area. The book also attempts to give provide an elementary
understanding of the outside world by pictures and simple explanations of a large city,
an automobile, a street-car, a railroad, a plane, radio, the Red Army and the heads of
the Soviet government. The book is so designed as to teach not only language but the jobs
of work necessary to the existence of every Nenets child as he grows older, cleanliness,
the need for schooling, the advantages of cooperatives and how they operate, the [: ] superi–
ority of medicine medical care over the incantations of the shaman, the greater desirability
of a community center and the alleged undesirability of a church, etc. Nor does this
Marxist ABC neglect Communist civics. There are brief descriptions of the Komi and Tungus
peoples designed to supplant traditional Nenets hostility toward them by mutual respect. Likewise, there
is a comparison between the oppressed state of the Russian worker and the Nenets herder
before the Revolution, and the improved social status they both have had attained under the

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new regime. The udarnik [: ()]"shock-worker") who studies hard and lives cleanly is contrasted
to the laggard. The primer, hard-covered, is 76 pages in length.
[: ] In 1932 and 1933 there also had been published a series of pamphlets in the Nenets
tongue for the literate portion of the population. They include such titles as: What Is
A Government Reindeer Farm? , 16 pp. with a clear drawing of one of the new corrals on the cover;
What Is a Court? , 8 pp.; The Red Tent (explanation of the five reading-and-clubhouse tents
set up to travel with the nomads), 14 pp., and What Has the October Revolution Given
to the Peoples of the North? , [: ] 20 pp. Each of these is printed in exceptionally large,
clear type. It is probable that pamphlets covering the following subjects, which the
present writer has seen in the languages of other northern nationalities, have also been
published in Nenets: What Is a Factory?; The Status of Women Among the Advanced Peoples
of the USSR; The Party Leads ; and Learn To Read and Write . The last of these was pro–
bably designed to be read aloud by those already literate, so as to convince others..
By 1934, in addition to the elementary schools, a [: ]
[: ] high school with 144 students was functioning in Marian-Mar, turning
out elementary school teachers, persons with elementary training in government and Party
work, and others with specific instruction in the administration of consumer cooperatives
and producer collectives. The school also had a preparatory department, equivalent to
junior high school. Another school specialized in training reindeer herders for the
state farm s. Attached to the lumber mill were schools training skilled workers in that
field. In addition to the foregoing, 55 Nentsy had been sent to specialized high schools
and colleges outside the Okrug for education which it could not yet provide. Moreover,
some were already [: ] engaged in post-graduate work.
Five hospitals had been built and, in addition thereto, a number of trained nurses
traveled with the nomads. However, many of them were still beyond the reach of any medi–
cal care.
Nentsy Take Over Government Posts
The idea of establishing a distinct Nenets Okrug, in which that [: ]
tribe could develop into a nationality, further its own cultural and economic interests,
and enjoy a certain degree of autonomy, had first been broached in 1925, at a session
of the Arkhangelsk Committee on the North. There was, at first, a considerable conflict

Nenets National Okrug

of opinion over the location and the boundaries of the proposed Okrug, for the then
Komi Oblast (now Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, qv), demanded that the
Nenets country be left within the boundaries of Komi territory. This had been the case
under the Tsars, when the whole Pechora basin had been, administratively, the District
of the Pechora, in which the Komi had [: ] predominated numerically and, as we
have seen, had exploited the Nentsy in the North. The Soviet government, at the outset,
had provided autonomy for those nationalities which had manifested a consciousness of
nationality. The Komi, numerous, having at least a minimum of literate leaders, and
not as isolated, [: ] [: ] from the course of political affairs as the Nentsy,
had let themselves be heard from. The Pechora District had therefore been transformed
into the Komi Oblast, including the Nenets tundra and extending to the shore of the
Arctic. When the leaders of the Committee of the North, having a broader view, proposed
encouragement and recognition of the Nentsy as a people, the Komi objected, for obvious fear of
harm to the interests of Komi reindeer-breeders employing Nenets labor in the tundra.
[: ] Further, they stated that if a distinct Nenets administrative
unit were established, it should be subordinate to the Komi Oblast.
It was finally decided by the Committee in Arkhangelsk to subordinate the new
Okrug, whenever it would be formed, to the Arkhangelsk Oblast. One reason was the greater
facility of transportation via the sea-coast. The Russian kulaks, however, at that time
no w t without influence upon government in such outlying areas, also objected to any
degree of Nenets autonomy, feeling that it would hinder their operations. Since that
idea could not be advanced thus baldly under [: ] the Soviet regime, they phrased their argu–
ment to the Nentsy as follows:
"Why should you be organized into a district, when you don't as yet have any capable offi–
cials of your own ? In an independent district things will be worse than before."
[: ] Fundamental to that argument, and to the entire situation at that time, was
the fact that the Nentsy themselves, never having had a government of their own at any
time, had a very limited understanding of the entire situation. It was necessary for
the Soviet officials to convince the Nentsy of the advantages of having their own gov–
ernment through [: ] talks at general meetings called for various purposes, and at family
gatherings in the wigwams. The matter was raised at each annual session of the county
governments and at the more frequent sessions of the tundra Soviets. These, too, had had

Nenets National Okrug

to be set up on a different basis among the Nentsy - and all other northern tribes - than
in the country at large. Whereas the general Soviet principle was one of internationalism,
i.e., of organization of government including all nationalities in a given district,
whichever might predominate, the northern peoples could at first only be brought together
by the organization of Soviets limited to themselves alone. Further, whereas another
fundamental principle of Soviet government was organization along class lines, i.e., in–
clusion of working people and peasants regardless of nationality, and exclusion of
employing groups on the same basis, the northern peoples could be brought together at
first only on a clan basis. This meant that the rich uncle and the poor nephew, who was
his reindeer-herder, belonged to the same Soviet, and, as we have seen above, the uncle had usually
dominated it . in the earlier years.
Finally, in the couple of years prior to 1929, the [: ]
Nenets Soviet congresses passed annual resolutions requesting the formation of a distinct
national area, and in 1929 the delegates to the Congress on the lower Pechora they gathered before a wall map and heatedly discussed the
proposed boundaries, indicating clearly that the idea had sunk in. Nevertheless, the tug–
of-war over affiliation continued. The Komi get influenced a Nenets Congress of Soviets at Yugorskii
Shar [: ] in the Komi Oblast to adopt a resolution favoring the formation of
a Nenets area that would be placed under that Oblast, and the next session of the Komi
Soviets passed such a local law to that effect although it had already been informed that the Committee
on the North of the central government of the USSR had decided the matter differently.
When the Soviet of the western tundra received a request from the representative of the
Arkhangelsk Committee of the North to determine the economic status of the Nentsy living
under the Komi, the Soviet of the latter refused to provide the [: ] information, stating
that it was none of the affair of the former, and declaring simply that [: ] their Nentsy were
better off. [: ]
Despite this conflict - a peaceful one, be it pointed out noted - the Nenets National
Okrug, including both areas, and independent of the Komi, was finally set up in October,
1929. This was, however, the first such autonomous arrangement for any of the minor
northern tribal peoples of the USSR. The others followed in 1930.
When the Nenets National Okrug was formed the number of Nentsy actually occupying
[: ] posts in that government could be counted on the fingers of one hand, but less

Nenets National Okrug

than five years later, i.e., in January, 1934, Nentsy numbered half the government offici–
als and 80% of the membership of the Communist Party in the Okrug. [: ] In 1931 there were 31 Com-
munists in the tundra, but in September, 1933, there were 103 in 14 branches. In 1931 the Nenets
[: ] Soviets had done little more than to conduct a census of population and reindeer,
but by 1934 they had become the active and accepted leaders of the people, drawing them
into public affairs, as described above. However, a special form of organization, which
had gone out of existence in Russia proper twelve years earlier, was still in effect in
the Nenets areas. This was a Committee of the Poor in each Soviet - for here the Soviets
still included persons with varying economic interests - which served as the [: ] means
whereby the rank-and-file Nenets was drawn into the effort to improve the techniques of
and productiveness of hunting, fishing, sealing and reindeer-keeping, and through which
the collective and state farms were directed along lines in keeping with the policies of
the Soviet government.
As early as 1934 a beginning was made toward the abolition of nomadism. Some of
the collective farms of reindeer-keepers had built permanent structures at their winter–
ing camps in place of the wigwams put up and taken down each year. In that year 75% of
the settled population belonged to fishermen's cooperatives, and 28% of the nomads held to
membership in joint pasturing associations or collective farms. There were now two state reindeer farms.
The new town of Narian-Mar already had a population of 7,000. Industr y, hitherto lacking,
had been was founded: [: ] fish canneries, at Shoina and Indiga, two brickworks, a lumber mill, coal mines at Vorkuta,
and lead-zinc mines on Vaigach Island. The 5,000 kilowatt power plant at Narian-Mar was
already in process of construction., and the Pechora River fairway was being deepened. Including the foregoing, there were now five indus–
trial settlements, however small. Each year, literally dozens of prospecting expeditions
toured the tundra, and, in 1934, the Nenets area came within the purview of the Academy
of Sciences when that body sent a group of scientists there, to the area, under the direction of
Prof. Tolmachev. [: ] The reindeer industry was being served by a zonal scientific
station established at Narian-Mar in 1931. Four corrals, two cold-storage plants and
several slaughter-houses had been established. The enlargement of the network of cooper–
ative trading posts from 34 in 1931 to 68 in 1932 and to 79 in 1933 was more effective in
driving the old traders out of business than all repressive measures could possibly have
been. There were now six radio stations along the coast, on the river and in the tundra,
a regular airline and a regular shipping line from Narian-Mar to Arkhangelsk.

Nenets National Okrug

The weakest spot in the situation of the Nenets National Okrug in 1934 was deemed
to be an insufficiency of permanent buildings in the tundra to serve as schools, hospitals,
county seats and homes for those desiring to settle permanently in a given spot. Such
construction was regarded as the key to raising the standard of living and culture of the
Nentsy. As a further step in that direction, a new cultural base was built in 1934.
[: Cha] Women in Government
A remarkable phenomenon, and one worthy of some attention, in view of the tradition–
ally sub-human status of womankind among the Nentsy, was the fact that by 1934 a woman,
then 46 years of age, had served successfully for three years as Chairman of the nomad
Soviet of the tundra west of the Pechora River. This woman, illiterate, had [: ]
been a paid laborer, [: ] as had her father and grandfather before her, i.e., she had sprung
from the poorest stratum among the Nentsy. [: ] She described the activities of her administration
as follows, to the editors of Sovetskii Sever . The area governed by her Soviet had, in 1934,
150 families owning 20,000 reindeer. 98 of these families had been convinced to join coop–
erative pasturing associations or collective farms. They included the very first in the
Nenets country. The collective farms numbered, respectively, 12, 13 and 30 households.
There were still three families classed as kulaks. The entire Malozemelskaia tundra had
been surveyed and [: ] assigned, so that each collective farm and each family of inde–
pendent reindeer-keeperss knew the area in which its reindeer could pasture. The popula–
tion pulled up stakes four times each year, and the nomad Soviet went with it. The herds
did not remain at any single spot for a long period, in order not to tramp out the moss,
and to be able to return to that spot not too long afterward. This problem of the rational
utilization of the tundra [: ] was supervized [: ] most closely by the Soviet
chaired by this middle-aged woman Nenets.
In general she seemed very businesslike and a capable administrator. and pre–
sented a striking illustration of the vast fund of talent called into being by giving
the female half of the population equality of rights, and by patient efforts to [: ] con–
vince it to [: ] rise to the opportunity offered. Continuing, she reported that groups of
the poor and of deputies to the Soviet had been organized. The former regularly conducted
preliminary discussion of the collective farms' [: ] plans for the year, the schedule
of fish and fur marketing, etc. Her Soviet conducted joint discussions discussed with the collective farmers such of
such matters as the direction and course of travel, [: ] inoculation of the
reindeer, and the like. There was close contact at all times between the nomad Soviet and

Nenets National Okrug

the collective farms. Considerable prosperity, by local standards, had been attained by
certain of the local farms. One of them distributed [: ] to each member money and
payment in kind - meat, reindeer hides, and the like - to a value of 1,500 rubles, in
addition to which the best workers received prizes in the form of [: ] hunting guns.
[: ] Production was higher, food intake greater, clothing better, and, she reported with
pride, even cloth garments were beginning to be worn. She stated that many of the poor
who had previously not wanted to join collectives had been won over by these the clear indica–
tions of improved standard of livelihood.
Of considerable interest is her report of the relation between the collective
farms and the market. The farms planned their activities in accordance with advance orders
from the consumer cooperatives, which acted as buying and selling agencies. Fish was sold
to them, but furs were sold to the State trading company, [: ] which dispatched
special agents to this territory to hold meetings at which contracts were worked out and
signed. The nomads procured their store goods - manufactures and foodstuffs - chiefly
from the cooperative, which made very frequent reports on its activities to the Soviet.
The Soviet had repeatedly subjected its work, [: ] and that of the State trading
posts, to criticism. With regard to the cooperative, the plans for the bringing in of
commodities and the shortcomings in its business operations had been subjected to detailed
examination. [: ] The State trading posts were criticized for not having such
essentials as traps, guns and fishery equipment on hand in sufficient quantity.
The Soviet governing 150 families consisted of 22 members, apparently one from
every seven households. Four were women. 16 of the members were classed as poor reindeer-owners, 3 as wage
laborers, and three as owners of middle prosperity. (This pertained to their status as
individuals before merging their herds as common property in collective farms.) There was
a Presidium, or body of officers, consisting of five members. The Soviet held full meetings
three times per year. Apparently the officers represented the Soviet in the other consultations [: ] with various
farms, cooperatives and agents mentioned above. [: ]
Convocation of the full Soviet was not difficult, as the meeting was always held
in the center of the area occupied by the Nentsy at that period of the year. The sessions
were always held in the Nenets tongue. The Secretary of the Soviet was a Russian, but
worked badly, and the illiterate woman Chairman was troubled by this, wondering what would

Nenets National Okrug

come of the situation in view of her own illiteracy. Eventually the Secretary was replaced.
Efforts to advance women out of the home had had the following results. One Nenets
woman had become a trained nurse, and worked in the local hospital. Others worked as house–
keepers and kitchen-and-dining-room personnel at the boarding schools. This represented a
step forward, in taking them out of the limiting confines of the wandering wigwam and plac–
ing them in contact with broader horizons. Two women performed similar housekeeping func–
tions in the Red Wigwam. Sewing circles had been organized in the collective farms. Almost
all the women in this group of 150 families were engaged in learning how to read and write.
The Chairman herself, Apitsyna, was doing so, despite the fact that she was approaching
middle age. The women no longer avoided the assistance of trained midwives, but came to
them on their own initiative. Special women's gatherings were called by the Soviet, to
consider both general problems, which they were still backward in discussing at joint meet–
ings with the men, and specific matters of concern to them. There were occasions on which
these meetings had to discuss instances of brutal behavior [: ] on the part of men, "but
now these instances were very rare". This represents a very considerable change in a period
of only three years.
The Red Wigwam, travelling with the nomad Soviet, had a personnel including a
trained nurse, a veterinary and an assistant to the latter. The population was quite satis–
fied, the Chairman reported, with the activities of the Red Wigwam, whose staff participated
in the execution of all the [: ] practical measures decided upon by the Soviet.
There was no school in the area of this nomad Soviet. Instead, the children were
sent to Telviska, to a boarding school which had four teachers. The parents sent their
children to school very willingly - another marked change over the situation three or four
years earlier. Both the schooling and the feeding of the children were regarded as satis–
factory by the Soviet.
The Soviet was nomadic only because it had no definite place to stay. However,
a cultural base was being built at Kolokolkov Bay in 1934. Upon its completion, the Soviet
would establish permanent headquarters in its vicinity. The cultural base would have a
hospital, a boarding school and a veterinary office. Under those stable conditions, it was
expected that the activities of the nomads' Soviet would be able to be carried out more
easily, and would be more fruitful.

Nenets National Okrug

[: ]
A report dated May, 1938, four years later than the foregoing, gives us a picture
of the activities of the hospital at the Kolokolkov cultural base. Construction and
staffing had proceeded more slowly than originally hoped for. The building was not
yet completely equipped, and the personnel lacked a trained nurse, a midwife, nurses'
helpers and a dentist. Nevertheless, the existing staff had won the confidence of the
Nentsy, as shown by the statistics on vists. In 1936 2,300 natives had The number of
out-patients had risen from visits by out-patients had risen from 2,300 in 1936 to
4,972 the following year, i.e., had more than doubled. There was an average of three
occupied beds serving in-patients occupied by in-patients in 1937 for a total popula–
tion of less than a thousand. This utilization of hospital bed facilities represented
a veritable revolution in the attitude of the natives, and had been won by the careful
attention given by to the sick, the cleanliness and comfort maintained in the hospital,
the good food, and an unceasing educational campaign. Three Nenets women had been
trained as nurses, and were now working among the nomads in the tundra. The Russian
doctor and nurse had made long trips with the wandering tribesmen, 13 in 1937 alone.
On these tours they had aided 574 patients, including 557 nomads. Three teams had been
set up to vaccinate the population against small-pox. They had visited [: ] all the six
collective farms and the three fisheries. Despite the fact that [: ] vaccina–
tion was new to the people, only a single individual refused that service. It may be
surmised that the [: ] attitude of the rest was determined by their observation of the
beneficial results of the inoculation of their reindeer. The doctor and nurse also
conducted some 70 meetings in the tundra, many with lantern slides, on the subject of
minimal standards of cleanliness in the wigwam, first aid, trachoma, pregnancy, child–
birth, etc. A health officer was trained in each collective farm, and supplied with
a minimum of medications. At two collective farms groups to study first aid were set
up. A traveling bath-tent was toured through the tundra and demonstrated in every
collective farm. Bathing became part of the cultural pattern, but an absence of the
necessary materials resulted in a shortage of bath-tents. For the immediate future,
the hospital was planning, early in 1937, to train 40 persons in first aid, convince
pregnant Nentsy to bear their children in the hospital, establish three model wigwams

Nenets National Okrug

to demonstrate how they could be divided and maintained internally for purposes
of sanitation, complete the vaccination program, conduct another 100 health lec–
tures in the tundra, and provide baths for 500 persons with the existing bath–
tent.
A report of February, 1937, provides a far less satisfactory picture of
the solution of the reindeer problem in this same, Malozemelskaia, tundra, than was offered in the articles previously
cited. That is not surprising, [: ] as they were written or dictated by Nentsy, for
whom the steps toward organization of the economy of the tundra represented a
veritable leap forward in their way of life. The 1937 report, however, is by
the Russian manager of the Nenets State Reindeer Farm of the Northern Sea Route
Administration. whose standards of efficiency were naturally far higher.
The area of the farms farm's pasturelands extended westward from the Pechora River
for a distance of 20 to 25 miles in summer and 35 to 40 miles in winter, occupy–
ing, as we have previously indicated, land formerly held by kulak households.
In 1937, although moss-pasture survey and allocation had been completed, consi–
derable explanatory work was still being done and was still needed among the
native population to get it to abide by the established allotments, particularly
the summer pastures. The previous summer a kulak - apparently the confiscation
of the property of the kulaks, which had been completed several years earlier
in agricultural Russia, had not yet been fully extended to the tundra - had
regularly pastured his reindeer on the moss grounds of the state farm.
The state farm required an enlargement of its pasturelands, because of
the projected expansion of its herd to 7,000 head. On January 1, 1936, it had
had 5,017 head, which had increased by calving to 7,367 head six months later,
but then declined to 5,949 in the three following months, in part due to the
slaughter of 1,003 head for meat. The remaining 400-odd head had been lost by
various causes, chief among them hoof-and-mouth disease. The farm manager com–
plained that an inter-departmental argument between the two institutions had
held up the necessary campaign to wipe out that disease. One institution had,
during two successive years, sent personnel to the tundra in September, when

Nenets National Okrug

the disease is usually on the decline among reindeer. The manager commented
sourly that "guest stars" would not solve the problem.
One of the chief functions of the farm was to serve as a source for the
enlargement of the collective farm herds. 224 reindeer had been transferred
to one collective farm, and 50 to another. In addition, a third collective
that was in a bad way, had been provided with foodstuffs, apparently reindeer
meat, and two others had been given assistance in the establishment of mobile
corrals.
The state farm also served the collectives by [: ] radio broadcasts to
them over its transmitter and by providing its facilities for taking the lead in organizing the traditional
annual holiday, Reindeer Day, [: ]
animals and by giving it a useful purpose through the institution of competi–
tions for the best [: ] bull, cow and calf reindeer. In 1936 the holiday was
held at a gathering in the nomad tundra, but the Nentsy were so pleased with
the aid given by the state farm that they proposed that it be held at its
base the following year.
The state farm now began putting large-scale reindeer-farming on a scientific
basis by a number of measures. A scale was set up in the corral, enabling 60 to
90 head to be weighed per hour. Thus records began to be established for each
animal individually. Likewise, poor animals were weeded out, for the first
time, while a stud-book was introduced, and large, readily visible identification
marks [: ] were made in the wool of each. The weak animals
were grouped in a special herd and given particular care in the pastures. The
results so obtained were most encouraging, both insofar as the poor and the
good animals were concerned.
Further progress of the farm was retarded by a number of obstacles. The
herders were illiterate [: ] and utterly ignorant of stock-raising techniques
beyond the experience of the fathers their fathers. Wolves were still doing

Nenets National Okrug

considerable damage, and insufficient efforts had been made to exterminate them.
Too much uncontrolled mating was permitted, so that the stock was not being
improved as rapidly as was possible with the best bulls and brood-cows avail–
able. Finally, the manager was critical of his own efforts hitherto in making
the best use of the existing moss-pastures, holding that much remained to be
done in mapping the most effective grazing routes, particularly during the
summer. He stated that, now that that error had been recognized, the state of
affairs in this respect would be improved in the future. For the future, the
[: ] state farm would be developed mainly as a source of blooded
stock for the surrounding collectives, rather than as a market farm.
Despite his dissatisfaction with the general ignorance of the shepherds,
herdsmen, the manager singled out nine of them for personal mention. Several
knew their herds so well as to be able to recognize, name, give the age and
pedigree of 50 to 80% of them. They had solved new problems, such as how to
herd the reindeer so as to drive them into corrals. Their herds had never
shown decline, and the average weight of meat of the animals in their care
was above average.
Eve of World War II
By 1939, the Narian-Mar was being served by a steamer making the run from
Arkhangelsk in three days, two days less than a few years earlier. The port
was now visited by dozens of Russian and foreign timber export vessels annually.
Each summer, in connection with the farmers' fair and the Reindeermen's Conven–
tion, a Nenets Folk Art Festival was held, of which the first had occurred in
1936. The best buildings in town, clubs and dormitories, were turned over to
the visitors, who made an attractive picture in the brightly-decorated furs
of the Nenets women, the rich traditional holiday garments of the Russian Pomor fisher–
women, and the colorful scarves, skirts and huge shawls of the newcomer
peasant women. The workers of the lumbermill, the longshoremen of the port,
and the staffs of the fur-purchasing agency and the government offices had,

Nenets National Okrug

several years earlier, each "adopted" a Nenets reindeer farm. This is a medium,
universal in the U.S.S.R., for establishing close contact between urban and
rural populations, and, specifically, for winning the peasantry to closer sup–
port of the regime through concrete aid and assistance on the part of city–
dwellers. This help usually took takes the form of vacation-time excursions to the
countryside to help with farm work during the [: ] rush season, in exchange for
which city folk benefit ted by several weeks of country life. They repair [: ]
equipment, and the like. They also make gifts of [: ] various useful objects [: ]
[: ] to the collective farms. Specifically, in Narian-Mar, when the Nentsy came
to town, the patron organization would see to the housing of those from the
farm it had adopted, and supply them with radios, phonographs, musical instru–
ments, billiards, chess, checkers and books.
The following is a description of a single day in the life of Narian-Mar,
May 8, 1938. The town, it will be remembered, had not been in existence six years. Although the opening of the navigation season was still five weeks
off, the overhaul of vessels in the harbor was completed on that day. 483 persons
worked in the port on that day. [: ]
[: ] The telegraph office handled 101 outgoing messages, 72 incoming, and
relayed 50 others. 163 out-patients visited the town clinic. [: ]
[: ] (There were no private physicians.) 12 visits were made to patients
at home. One medical lecture was read. On that day, 18 fishermen took an examin–
ation at the end of a course [: ] designed to increase their skill at their trade.
A new 1,000-sq.- [: ] yd. hothouse was placed in operation at the zonal agricul–
tural experiment station. This station was the center for the study of reindeer
farming. Its staff included veterinaries working on [: ] problems of feed
and sickness, geobotanists [: ] studying the food value of the various grasses,
mosses and lichens, and computing the fodder resources of the area, dog experts
studied studying the herders' reindeer-dog and problems of how best to organize dog–
raising in the tundra. The station had large kennels, grain fields and vegetable
gardens. It exhibited home-grown peppers, turnips of several varieties, beets,
kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes and potatoes grown in the open here at 67°35′N.

Nenets National Okrug

In 1937 the best yields per plot came to 41 16.4 tons of potatoes per [: ] acre,
98.4 40 tons of cabbage, 88.8 33 of turnip, 36 14.4 of scallions, 35 14 of carrots and 48 19 of
kohlrabi. The station gave a course for Arctic gardeners each year, training Russians,
Komi and Nentsy. The lumbermill maintained its own garden, which had engaged in
fairly large-scale farming since 1934. In 1935 it had harvested a crop of potatoes,
turnips and cabbages totalling ten tons. Two workers, lacking seed potatoes, had
taken a [: ] chance and planted 20 lbs. of rotten ones. They got a crop of 200 lbs. The
local people had become so accustomed to agricultural "miracles" that, seeing two
visitors returning from the market with water-melon and apples, they asked whether
they could be gotten at the lumbermill garden. Actually, they had been brought by
ship, as no fruits had yet been raised in Narian-Mar. Barley and oats were raised
successfully in 1938. The hothouse put into operation May 8th gave, that summer,
a crop of two tons of tomatoes and more than 5,000 flowers, grown to brighten the
new, board town in the tundra.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic on Narian-Mar in 1938 was the fact that
2,000 persons in the town attended school daily each day or evening. This included
the normal school, the []training
school of public administration, the trade school of the state reindeer farm with
its headquarters in the town, two high schools, one junior high school and evening
schools for adults. The total figure included several hundred Nenets boys and girls.
One of the most remarkable individual instances of progress among the Nentsy
of Narian-Mar in 1938 was the story of the Siadei family. A quarter of Almost half a century
earlier they had been exhibited as wild men in a St. Petersburg public square park, , living
in a tent, wolfing raw meat and barking like dogs for the edification of the customers.
Now their daughter was graduating from normal school and obtaining her diploma as
a teacher in the Nenets language. She had was an accomplished violinist, and had
won a fine concert instrument as a prize for her performance at the regional music
festival in Arkhangelsk. Her brother was an official of the Nenets Okrug admini–
stration, now completing then beginning his studies in the Higher Communist Agricultural School
at Arkhangelsk. His wife was a graduate of the local school of public administration.
The whole family lived in one of the best buildings in town.

Nenets National Okrug

On Returning to the events of May 8, 1938, the following additional occurrences
were recorded. in the Narian-Mar newspaper that day. The paper is published in Russian and Nenets editions. The government construction
firm reported that, for the first time, all its illiterate and semi-literate
workers were attending courses. [: ] The [: ] central library was visited
by 98 readers, and loaned out 174 books. [: ] There were nine other small libraries, and
the ten combined had 40,000 volumes. That day, the theater company
[: ] played Korneichuk's drama of the contemporary Ukraine, Platon Krechet ,
to a full house of 326 people. 125 mothers brought their children to day nurseries
or kindergarten. [: ] In addition to the legitimate theater, the town had
two motion picture houses, 10 community centers and clubrooms in offices and factories.
A noteworthy evidence of the broader horizons of the youngest generation
is the fact that five Nenets school-children, who had heard of two books being
written collectively by children in other Soviet towns, had successfully launched
the idea of such a book in Narian-Mar, to be called Children of the Arctic .
The book described their schooling, their vacation camps, their experiences
hunting seal, polar fox and the birds of the tundra, their work in with reindeer
herds, their meetings with [: ]
[: ] the fliers and explorers of the Schmidt-Papanin expedition
establishing the drifting station at the North Pole in 1937, and their corres–
pondence with children in other Soviet cities. The book was published at
Arkhangelsk early in 1939, and a copy was exhibited at the New York World's
Fair later that year.
Plans for the city for the years 1939-42 included the building of a large
electric power station, a House of Culture (city-wide community center with
diverse facilities), a House of Pioneers (children's "settlement house"), an
additional motion picture theater seating 500, a new legitimate playhouse, a
park and exhibition ground, a stadium, new schools and numbers of additional
dwelling houses. Undoubtedly, the war prevented most, if not all of this, from
being done at that time, but in view of the rapid and scheduled growth during
the preceding years, it would appear likely that this program has been carried
out since the close of hostilities. A photograph of the town in 1939 shows it
to be an orderly collection of solid, unattractive one and two-story wooden build–
<formula> 3.6 9 ﹍ 14.4 </formula> <formula> 4 ﹍ 110 </formula> <formula> 8.3 9 ﹍ 3 32 </formula>

Nenets National Okrug

ings, with spacious unpaved streets and squares between.
Post-World War II . The new playhouse opened in 1946, and the company offered a
repertory including Shakespeare, Moliere and Lope de Vega in addition to classical and modern
Russian works.
By the beginning of 1949, the Narian-Mar agricultural school had
graduated more than 100 specialists in reindeer [: ] breeding and
other fields, who were now working in various collective and state farms
throughout the area. There was now also a cultural enlightenment school.
training head librarians and personnel for the houses of culture. The
new Russian-style alphabet for the Nenets tongue had been devised by a
graduate of the Narian-Mar School of Pedagogy, A. Rozhin. The Okrug now
had a completely adequate [: ] network of schools, 58 in number, with
6,000 Russian, Nenets and Komi children in attendance. 1,500 of them in boarding schools were being housed, clothed and fed by the government. They were almost all Nents. There was a school
for every 600 in the population, indicating that each collective farm and
area of the tundra had its own. It will be recalled that there had been
only six schools 15 years earlier. Nine sound-equipped motion-picture projectors
toured the tundra, or had been installed in theaters in the towns, i.e. one per 4,000 in the
population. There were now six reindeer-drawn culture tents - Red Wigwams - accompanying the reindeer-men.
Likewise, there were, early in 1949, fifteen hospitals, 55 other
medical offices, six clinics and a number of maternity homes, hurseries,
milk kitchens and kindergartens. There was one hospital, that is, for
every 2,000 in the population, and a medical office staffed by a trained
nurse [: ] and, in some cases by a doctor, for every 600.
In agriculture, rye had been added to the list of crops that
were successfully being grown in the open. In the preceding decade, the
average yield of onions per acre had doubled, and that of cabbage had risen
20%, while the potato yield had, for some was in 1949, for some reason,
25% lower than that reported ten years earlier. The experimental station
was engaged in the systematic acclimatization of suitable varieties of
the various vegetables, whereupon they were turned over for ordinary
cultivation to the collective farms along the Pechora.
With motor vessels having universally replaced the old deep–
water dories, fishing had been extended down the Pechora from the old

Nenets National Okrug

limit at Andeg, near Narian-Mar, to its very mouth. Previously the broad lower
reaches had been deemed unsafe. A new shipyard at Narian-Mar built fishing Vessels.
For the reindeer industry, the entire expanse of tundra had now been surveyed
and entered on a pasturage map. The master map, maintained in Narian-Mar, showed
where the collective and state farm herds pasture at each time of year. [: ]
[: ] The Nenets collective farms now maintained cattle in addition to reindeer.
One farm, for example, numbering forty families, had 12,000 head of reindeer. This
average of 300 per family [: ] was as great as that of a kulak
family a generation earlier. Evidently improvement of the breed had spread from
the state farm at which we saw it being [: ] introduced in 1937 to the col–
lective farms, for this collective farm kept its reindeer in eight herds, one of
which consisted of pedigreed animals. It also had 37 cows and 60 calves. The cows
gave an average of 1,000 liters of milk per year, still quite low very low, but it
was believed that better feed, care - the Nentsy were just learning how to deal
with this animal - and breeding would double the yield within a few years. Even
that figure would, of course, still be quite modest in more southerly climes. The
Nentsy now had permanent homes - one of which had been built as early as 1931, and
this farm had, probably typically, [: ] an elementary school with a four–
year course, in which the children were boarded during the seasons when their
parents were wandering the tundra with their herds. Beyond the four-year level,
they continued their education in Narian-Mar. However, later in 1949, the Soviet
government announced that the extension of compulsory schooling to the seven-year
level had been completed everywhere in the U.S.S.R. It is probably that, for the
Nentsy, this meant an extension of the course in the local schools, rather than
the maintenance of additional three-year boarding schools in Narian-Mar, Amderma
and elsewhere large enough to provide for all the children in the tundra.
In the field of transportation, 1946 had marked a radical extension of the navi–
gation season. In that year, nine river tugboats, specially strengthened for the
voyage, and convoyed by a small port icebreaker and powerful sea-going tug, left
Narian-Mar on Sept. 22 for Arkhangelsk. The voyage was completed in ten days.
Pencilled math and sketches on back of page

Nenets National Okrug

When federal elections took place in the USSR at the beginning of 1946, elaborate
measures were taken to bring polls within reach of the nomads. Eight voting places were
set up in the tundra proper, some of them as far as 850 miles by trail from Narian * Mar.
It is of considerable interest that five polling places for the Nentsy voting for candi–
dates from the Okrug to the Soviet of Nationalities at Moscow were set up in the forests
of around Mezen, beyond the boundaries of the Okrug. Whatever one's opinion of Soviet
elections in general, it is obvious that the Nentsy would be favorably impressed by this
measure to enable them, as nomads, far from their normal "residence", to exercise their
right to vote. Radio and aircraft were used for communication between Narian-Mar and the
outlying polls.
The known mineral resources of the Okrug had been increased during the war by the
discovery of coal on the Voloncha River, and of petroleum.
The most impressive fact about the Nenets National Okrug, however, at the close of
the 1940s, was that Nentsy now served as managers of State reindeer farms, doctors,
veterinaries, teachers and radio operators.

Nenets National Okrug

Recent Cultural Developments
The first Nenets folk festival, held in 1936, and representing the culmina–
tion of several years of effort on the part of ethnographers and others, included
[: ] performances by singers, musicians, story-tellers, dancers and
dramatic groups. This was not an effort to present the pure and unalloyed culture
of the Nentsy, but rather to call forth maximum cultural expression both in
the traditional forms and in those adapted from the Russians. The leading form
of folk art is the [: ] saga. The meter is usually [: ] similar to that of
the Karelian-Finnish Kalevala , on which Longfellow's Hiawatha was patterned.
Earlier we have cited one of the most popular [: ] sagas, which deals with a
Nenets attack upon a Russian town centuries ago, and how it was repelled by
artillery. Its title is Khariutsei , which is the name of its hero. Another,
Man of the Unknown Land , tells of clan and tribal wars of the past, particularly
with the Yamal Nenetsy east of the Arctic Urals. The Abandoned Ancient deals
with an aged herdsman and his servitude to and conflicts with his employer.
Earlier we have also cited escerpts from The Song of a Boy sold into slavery
to a reindeer owner. Some of these folk tales in meter were taken down for the
first time during the 1936 festival. One of them, The Rich One , tells of a man
who employed 30 herdsmen:
....Midst the reindeer were they born,
And midst reindeer death did find them.
Paid them bones their wealthy master,
For their labor past all bearing.
And for twelve full months of labor,
Not a sickly reindeer gave them,
Not a single, lonely reindeer,
Stiff in leg and bony bodied.
Only gut of slaughtered reindeer
Were the herdsmen fed the twelvemonth....
Finally the hero, Mando, leading [: ]
[: ] Nentsy from the seven tundras, poor or entirely
lacking in reindeer, wages war upon the wealthy Tsungar. After many battles,
he flees. Overtaken by eight pursuers, he kills them by trickery, but is finally
defeated, whereupon Mando distributes his reindeer the reindeer equ–

Nenets National Okrug

ally among all. [: ] Thenceforward life among the Nentsy of the seven tundras is
good; they live without conflict "and eat reindeer meat".
Nenets tales in prose are no less interesting. They also describe relation–
ships among human beings, [: ] Nenets con–
cepts of their environment, and the hopes and fears of the people. The tales,
like the sagas, are off chanted in a sort of recitative. In most of these tales
the popular heroes fall into complex and difficult situations, but always emerge
from them successfully. One such tale, for example, is [: ] The Son of The Smith ,
in which the hero gets the better of the sons of merchants, but then is fated
for what seems to be certain death. However, he comes out of it alive and un–
harmed. Then there is the story, which seems to exist among all peoples, of the
poor Nenets who always managed to make a fool out of the king who was [: ]
hounding him.
This folk tale tradition is very much alive and deeply-rooted. Nenets child–
ren at the boarding schools spent [: ] many of their leisure hours chanting to
each other the tales they knew best, and creating others as they went along.
There are special fairy tales for children which develop a sense of fantasy,
initiative and curiosity.
Song also [: ] occupies a prominent part in Nenets folklore. Some of the
songs are encountered everywhere from the Kanin Peninsula to the Kara Sea, and
from the coast at Yugorskii Shar to the forests of Mezen. The women are parti–
cularly [: ] fond of The River of Khan-zerovo , which tells of their oppressed status
under the old way of life. A woman, pursued by a husband whom she hates bitterly,
flees from him and undergoes a number of marvelous transformation in order to escape
him. At one time she becomes a duck and swims up the tundra river Khan-zerovo, and at another
[: ] a golden fish and swimming away from [: ] him
into the frozen ocean.
[: ]
[: ]
Rozhin, the [: ] teacher of the Nenets language who later
devised its Russian-style alphabet, and who has done extensive translations of
Nenets songs into the Russian language, states that he knows of no other language in

Nenets National Okrug

which word sequence in songs is as strictly ordered. [: ] Even the interjections with
which all Nenets songs are generously interlarded, [: ] are introduced
in specific and unvarying order. Many of the songs, likewise, are rigidly re–
served for [: ] group singing only. Large choral groups have been organized and
trained on the basis of this folk tradition. []New songs of the past dozen years
are much faster in rhythm and gay gayer in theme and words than the laments and songs
of sorrow which formerly predominated. These new songs, similar in style and
content to the traditional Russian peasant couplets - "chastuchki" - originated
among the Nenets student youth. The [: ] sisters Lagei had won particular
popularity for their rendition of these songs both in the Nenets Okrug and at
the regional folk festival in Arkhangelsk.
The music of the Nentsy was subjected to [: ] study for the first time in
1937 [: ] by a team organized by the Arkhangelsk Oblast Arts Administration. Their
melodies bear a slight similarity to those of the Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Turkmen and
Tajiks of Central Asia, in their calmness of rhythm, periodic repetitions of
motif, and repeated [: ] exclamations at the end of each couplet,
[: ] taking the place of the chorus in western music. Whereas the improvisded
small songs in which the tundra is rich are improvised both in verse and tune,
the populat songs and, in particular, the epics such as Khariutsei are chanted
to precise melodies that vary but little from singer to singer and place to
place.
The Nentsy judge the best singer to be he or she who can utter the
largest number of sounds during one breath. The jury at the folk festival must
therefore maintain a constant count. Rimsky-Korsakov, in writing [: ] "Sadko",
utilized the unusual time of 11/4 for the Sadko aria, completely unprecedented in
classical music. This was not an original experiment, but grew out of his pro–
found knowledge of musical folklore. This time, encountered in Russian folk
music as a rarity, appears quite frequently in Nenets songs.
From the shaman's drum, which was their only musical instrument a generation

Nenets National Okrug

ago, the Nentsy have advanced to considerable familiarity with the accordion,
guitar, balalaika and mandolin, which are frequently to be found in their
wigwams and houses. Piano accompaniment has become the rule in connection with
the rendition of Nenets songs at folk concerts.
As early as 1936, the first folk festival witnessed the performance of
three plays by Nentsy. The best received was The Shaman , by Matvei Varsapov,
a member of a reindeer collective farm in the Bolshezemelskaia Tundra. The
piece was based on a song then making the rounds of the tundra, dealing with
the exposure of the shaman. The play dealt with the shrewdness [: ] and
cupidity of the shamans, the harm they had done, [: ] and their final dis–
appearance of their influence. The play was quite simple, and much that it
tried to say was offered only in outline form, but the originality of the
theme and the unexpected appearance presentation of a dramatic performance,
something entirely new for the Nentsy, made a strong deep impression upon
the audience, and judges.
The play tells of the reindeer-herder Syro and his wife who work for a
kulak, Yangut. For a year's work they are paid only a single reindeer, the
worst in the herd. They are fed bones from the master's leavings. Syro becomes
disgusted with his lot, and threatens to leave and join a collective farm.
He is unable to carry out this plan only because he is suddenly taken seriously
ill. When he asks that the doctor be called, the kulak advises that the shaman,
Khutlingi, be called upon instead. Khutlingi's accidental appearance at this
moment enables [: ] Yangut to [: ] make it appear as though the shaman
really possesses supernatural powers, and had known in advance of Syro's ill–
ness. Syro, overwhelmed, is done out of all his possessions - three reindeer,
a foxskin and fur boots - by the shaman in exchange for his healing services.
But the shaman's sorcery was to no avail. Syro became worse. But his wife ac–
cepts the advice of the members of the nearby collective farm to go for the
doctor, and, through the tundra Soviet, exposes the shaman who had taken in her
guileless husband.

Nenets National Okrug 68.

The two other plays, although written and performed by Nentsy, did not create
so strong an impression, because they both originated with the advanced student
youth, probably at the suggestion of their Russian teachers, and were more directly
didactic. The students of the normal school offered Two Laws , which depicted the
conflict between the customs of the old and new tundra and the triumph of the latter.
The students of the school of public administration offered a piece titled Red Star .
The importance of all three [: ] lay in the fact that they brought forth the first
actors and directors in Nenets history, however amateurish they inevitably were.
As a result, a play called Tadibei (shaman in Nenets) was prepared with considerable
care and extended rehearsal for the regional folk festival at Arkhangelsk, and won
fair reviews both in the Arkhangelsk and Moscow press. A photograph of a scene in a
wigwam shows that the staging and costuming certainly was most impressive. Undoubt–
edly, the assistance of competent Russian producers was available. The outcome of
these first efforts was the founding, in January, 1938, of a Nenets-language studio
group attached to the Narian-Mar playhouse, in which the first 16 professional
actors were given systematic training preparatory to the organization of the first
theater company.
William Mandel
Sources:

Entsiklopedicheskii Slovar , Vol. 46, St. Petersburg, 1898.

Bolshaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia , Vol. 41, 1939 Moscow, 1939.

RSFSR, Administrativno-Territorialnce Delenie, 1942.

"Kulturnye sviazi severa Vostochnoi Evropy vo vtorom tysiacheletii do nashei ery",
M.E.Foss, Sovetskaia Etnografiia , 4, 1948.

The [: ] Chronicle of Novgorod, 1016-1471 , trans. by R. Michell and N. Forbes, Intro.
by C. Raymond Beazley, Camden Third Series, Vol. XXV, London, 1914.

Terrae Incognitae , by R. Henning, Leiden, 1937, Vol. II

Reise mach nach dem Nordosten des [: ] europäischen Russlands, durch die Tundren
der Samojeden, zum arktischen Uralgebirge...,
by A.G. Schrenk, 2 vols., Dorpat, 1948
1848-54.

"Mezenskaia Tundra", V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko, in Zhivopisnaia Rossiia , Vol. I, Moscow
and St. Petersburg, 1881.

Nenets National Okrug

Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas His Pilgrimes , by Samuel Purchas, B.D., Vol. XIII,
MacLehose, Glasgow, 1906.

A Russian Province of the North , by Alexander Platonovich Engelhardt, Archibald
Constable, Westminster, 1899.

"Sovetskoe stroitelstvo u nentsev (samoedov)", E. Khata, Taiga i Tundra , 2, 1930.

"O raionirovanii", E. Khata, ibid .

"Klassovoe rassloenie u nentsev", E. Taleeva, ibid .

"O nenetskikh shkolakh", A. Firsov, ibid .

"Polozhenie nenetskoi (samoedskoi) zhenshchiny", E. Taleeva, ibid .

"Komsomol u nentsev", E. Labazov, ibid

"Kolkhoz 'Polokha'", F. Khatanzeiskii, ibid , 3, 1931.

"Khoziaistvo Kanino-Timanskogo raiona Nenetskogo okruga", O. Evsiugin, ibid .

"Zhizn zhenshchiny- [: ] nenki Bolshezemelskoi tundry, Kataisko-Glaskogo raiona",
E. Labazov, ibid .

"K voprosu o zemleustroistve tundry Nenetskogo okruga Severnogo kraia", O. Evsiugin,
ibid , 1(4), 1932.

"O proshlom tundry", A. Pyrerko, ibid .

"Pechora", A. Khatanzeiskii, ibid , 2(5), 1933.

"Nenetskii okrug", Sovetskii Sever , 1, 1934.

"Malo-Zemelskoi kochevoi sovet Nenetskogo okruga (Soobschenie predsedateliia soveta –
t. Apitsynoi)" , , ibid .

"Slet kolkhoznikov-udarnikov Nenetskogo okruga", I. Vyucheiskii, ibid , 2, 1934.

"Kochevye obedineniia edinolichnykh khoziaistv v tundre Severnogo kraia", P. Maslov,
Sovetskii Sever , 5, 1934.

[: ] "K voprosu o parmakh Nenetskogo okruga", P. Terletskii, ibid .

T'm Wadambada Sowhoz Namge , (What Is a State Reindeer Farm?), Y. Koshelev, Selkhozgiz,
Moscow-Leningrad, 1933.

Sud Namge (What Is A Court?), I. Kulagin, Partizdat, Moscow-Leningrad, 1932.

Narjana Mah (Red Wigwam), G. Verbov, Lenpartizdat, Leningrad, 1933.

Oktabr rewolucija nerm nana jilena tenzahah namgem tasa ? (What the October Revolution
Gave to the Peoples of the North), Y. Alkor, Lenpartizdat, Leningrad, 1933.

Nenets National Okrug

Jadej wada (Primer), G.N. Prokofev, Gosudarstvennoe Uchebno-Pedagogicheskoe Izd.,
Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.

"Nenetskii Olensovkhoz", I.K. Prokushev, Sovetskaia [: ] Arktika , 2, 1937.

"Iskusstvo nenetskogo naroda", Nikolai Leontev, ibid ., 5, 1938.

"Narian-Mar", N. Leontev, Nasha Strana , 8, 1939.

"Istoki Zhizni", V. Popov, Vokrug Sveta , 12, 1948.

"On the Banks of the Pechora", Victor Lyubinsky, Soviet Woman , 2, 1949.

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