Voice of a young reindeer herder about nomadic family

June 2, 2014 • Alena GerasimovaChallenges, EALLIN, Reindeer Herders
Igor is hunting in taiga. Photo by Yuri Kokovin

Facing the second reading of the draft law “On Nomadic Family” in June 2014 in Yakutsk, we decided to publish a short article where young reindeer herder from Iengra village (south of Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russia) expresses his concern about reindeer herding families and the future of traditional knowledge:

” I’m twenty-six years old. I spent all my childhood in taiga with my family, working with reindeer. I can’t stay in the town for too long, my legs almost without control carry me into taiga, to my reindeer. Only then I feel comfortable, I start to have good sleep – reindeer are close to me, and my soul is calm. And when the hunting season starts, there is no piece for me – all I start to think about is hunting. So I like living in taiga, everything here for me is suit me.

But there are a lot of reindeer herders who cannot create their own families, because girls don’t want to live in taiga or tundra. They got used to live with comfort, such as hot water, electricity, and internet. Today young women afraid of those living conditions, which taiga is giving them.

And this is also the reason why traditional knowledge is disappearing. For instance, knowledge in handicrafts. I have to ask elderly Evenki women to sew me traditional clothing, make working shoes from reindeer skin. But usually because of their age, they not always can make proper clothing, it is hard for them to prepare reindeer skin.  And young girls they don’t know how to make this traditional clothing, which are needed for reindeer herders to work. It is very sad.

While married reindeer herder can come to his tent, where his family is waiting for him, where it is warm and food is prepared. He can have good dinner, take a proper rest and continue to work. But bachelors got used to eat instant noodles. It is easy to prepare, but for how long it will be enough to be full, and continue to work? Of course reindeer herder gets tired very quickly, and his work cannot always be finished.

It is very good that the Parliament raised the question about nomadic family again. Girls need to be attracted to work in reindeer husbandry. And for that purpose, the living conditions in taiga must be approved. Because today even the material for tents is not of a good quality – it used to be better before.

If we don’t have reindeer herding families, then how can we preserve our traditions? To whom we will pass our knowledge and experience? To become reindeer herders, children should be raised close to reindeer, in taiga. And of course they need their mothers to be close to them. “

Igor Kolesov, nomadic community “Oldoyo”, Iengra village, Neryungri region