National Geographic : 1998 Mar
Women's work in the Nenets' nomad culture includes the assembly and disassembly of thefamily chum (left), a tent made of larchpoles and rein deer skins. Workers affiliated with Russia's giantenergy conglom a.s erate, Gazprom, live in barrel-shapedbar racks raisedabove the permafrostat Bova nenkovo, a settlement in one of the huge gas fields underlying the Nenets' summer pastureland. pawing up the snow to get at the lichens below. The remoteness of this place-along with the Nenets' sense of identity and cultural pride-has enabled them to operate at the fringes of the modern world without being swallowed up by it. "These are indeed people who live in a totally different dimension" says Andrei Golovnev, director of the ethnology section of the Ural Institute of History and Archaeology. "They do not want to be the same as everyone else. They just want to be what they are. The Nenets believe they're the best rein deer herders in the world. Such absolute cer tainty of their superiority, the belief that they are special people, allows them to survive." NENETS: SURVIVING ON THE SIBERIAN TUNDRA AM- -~ J"