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ptrougeNenets, nomadics at the edge of the world


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Fabrice Dimier





The Nenets people have resisted sedentism for centuries. The reindeer herding nomads are the last guardians of a territory fiercely coveted by the gas industries.

 40,000 Nenets live in an area of 770 000 km2 in a vast white desert  between the Arctic Circle and the Kara Sea. Only 8000 of them are still nomads. Accessibility of the animals food has ever conditioned the nomad way of life of these people, obliging them to migrate weekly amounting to a thousand kilometres per year. In return, the reindeer provides them with hide for their clothing and tents, a means of transport and meat.

In appearance, nomadic lifestyle seems not to have a big change. But their relationship with the Russian Federation has slowly evolved. The territory under the ground contains over 90 % of Russian gas. From compromise on rights of way negotiations, infrastructure and gas cities gradually disfigure the tundra.

Gas industries dump millions in housing construction , health and school structures . In recent years the villages of the Tundra see strong growth in mobile facilities , a choice with no return possible once sold the herd. Often the decision is family. Nomadic children play a major role in these decisions. They attend school free from 7 to 17 years in villages and back under the tent with their parents for only 3 months of summer . Their tuition and boarding are supported by the administration. While the assessment of the Yamal gas reserves portends another half century of extraction, assimilation danger of Nenets culture has never been stronger .