Student from the Herzen University defends master thesis about Nenets and Sami Reindeer Herding Vocabularly

June 25, 2018 • Alena Gerasimova

 Nechei Serotetto who  Nechei Serotetto, from reindeer herding family in Yamal, is a graduate student of the Institute of the Peoples of the North of the Herzen University in Saint-Petersburg, who also participated in the Arctic Council EALLU project, she has successfully defended her master thesis: Nenets and Saami reindeer herding vocabulary as a way of maintaining national traditions. Nechei is also a co-author of the EALLU cook book, where she writes about traditional knowldge on consuming reindeer meat. The field of scientific interest of Nechei is the study of traditional knowledge about ways to preserve products from reindeer, as well as the methods of traditional slaughtering of reindeer. She conducted a comparative analysis of traditional knowledge and technologies for butchering reindeer from the Saami of Norway and the Nenets of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. For this, Nechei studied the Sami language at the Saami University of Applied Sciences in Kautokeino for a year. In addition, Nechei has also contributed to the work of the Rievdan project.



Anthrax in Reindeer on Yamal Seminar Held, Salekhard

November 12, 2016 • Philip Burgess

Anthrax seminar The ICR and WRH team have been in Salekhard, the capital of the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug for the whole week and yesterday, attended an international seminar on the outbreak of anthrax on the Yamal Peninsula this summer. The anthrax outbreak was an event that captured global headlines and aroused significant concern amongst herders and their advocates, as significant reindeer culls have been suggested, and a desire to reduce the number of active herders has also touted. Considerable unease and uncertainty within the livelihood has arisen as a result.

The seminar was a two day event and was opened by the Yamal Governor Dmitry Kobylkin and included presentations by multiple presenters from Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, UK, Germany, Canada and the US on various topics including anthrax outbreaks, pastures, reindeer health, education,

From the ICR/WRH team, presentations were made by Svein Mathiesen (“Social- ecological resilience of reindeer husbandry in times of Arctic change”), Johan Mathis Turi (“The role of traditional knowledge and management in the future”) and ICR board member Roza Laptander from the Arctic Centre, Finland, (“Turbulent periods in the history of Yamal reindeer husbandry in stories of tundra dwellers”)

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Nenets Student Learns Sami, Completes Groundbreaking Work on Sami / Nenets Slaughter terminologies

July 1, 2016 • Philip Burgess

nechei serotettoNechei A. Serotetto, a young Nenets student who took the remarkable step of travelling to Kautokeino in the heart of the Sami reindeer herding area, living there for a year, learning Sami language and applying her acquired knowledge on Nenets and Sami reindeer herding slaughtering techniques and terminology has received top marks for her completed final year paper.  Serotetto’s work was for her final paper in teacher education at the Institute of the North, Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia. This is a valuable contribution as Nenets slaughtering terminology is highly specific and sometimes ‘secret’ her work is a valuable addition to the broader knowledge and awareness of traditional knowledge of herding peoples. It is worth noting that no-one has ever studied the traditional Nenets way of slaughtering reindeer, making her work groundbreaking, particularly when compared to the more studied Sami practices of slaughter, which she studied and participated in, during her stay in Kautokeino.

Serotetto grew up in a nomadic reindeer herding family in the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the largest single area of reindeer herding in the world where she was immersed in the nomadic herding life of her family and to where she is returning.

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New Phd: State Management & Traditional Knowledge in Reindeer Husbandry Management

May 19, 2016 • Philip Burgess

Ellen Inga TuriSámi scholar Ellen Inga Turi is defending her Phd on Friday, May 20 in Umeå, Sweden. Her work is groundbreaking and touches on the field of management, reindeer husbandry and traditional ecological knowledge.

The PhD is entitled “State Steering and Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Reindeer Herding Governance: Cases from western Finnmark, Norway and Yamal, Russia”. Her Faculty Opponent is Professor Dietrich Soyez from the Department of Geography at University of Cologne, Germany. The thesis is part of the research project IPY EALÁT which has been coordinated by the Sami University of Applied Sciences and UArctic Ealát Institute within the International Reindeer Centre Husbandry in Kautokeino / Guovdageaidnu.

The area of investigation were in the Sami reindeer grazing area of West Finnmark in Norway and the Nenets reindeer grazing area in Yamal, Western Siberia, which are the largest reindeer herding areas in the world, both in terms of number of people and reindeer. In these areas there are certain similarities, but also major differences in terms such as political organization and management systems.

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Knowledge Co-Production between NASA and Reindeer Herders across the Arctic

May 23, 2015 • Philip Burgess

ANancy Maynard, Mikhail Pogodaev few years ago, UNU (United Nations University) filmed a short interview with the Executive Chair of the Association of World Reindeer Herders Mikhail Pogodaev and Nancy Maynard of NASA, after they presented a joint paper entitled “Sami Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and NASA Remote Sensing Technologies Working Together for Adaptation Strategies” at an international workshop on Indigenous Peoples, Marginalized Populations and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Traditional Knowledge convened in Mexico City, Mexico. You can now watch the interview online (see below) and you can download the presentation here.

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Seminar on spring duck hunting started in Kautokeino

March 24, 2014 • Alena Gerasimova

duck hunting seminarMonday, March 24, 2014. Seminar on spring duck hunting started today in Kautokeino, at Sami University College. The project that is called Arbediehtu. is leaded by the Sami University College, Guovdageainnu municipality and the Sami association for hunters and harvesters and dedicated to the knowledge about the spring duck hunting.


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Reindeer die offs continue in Yamal region (Russia)

March 19, 2014 • Alena Gerasimova

Yamal reindeer loss 2014Wednesday, 19th of March. Reindeer continue dying. Yamal region needs help to get out of this catastrophic situation. Because of the ice crust unfortunate animals simply cannot get to the lichen. As a result dozens of reindeer corpses spread all over the tundra. On the way to the ‘Yarsalinskoe’ enterprise: shocking scenes are practically on every hundred meters. Reindeer which exhausted from hunger just lie down in the snow and fall asleep and been a very easy capture for predators. The director of Yarsalinskoe enterprise Liliya Yakubova said that currently enterprise has lost about 5-6 thousand of reindeer, but no one can give the real number for now.  

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Association of World Reindeer Herders participated in the celebration of Reindeer Herders Day in Nadym, Russia

March 6, 2014 • Alena Gerasimova

reindeer race in nadymFebruary 28 – March 2, 2014. Every year at the end of February, in March and at the beginning of April many reindeer herding regions in Russia traditionally start to celebrate Reindeer Herders Day. It is a very special event for local people, and especially for reindeer herders and their families, and they all are looking forward to celebrate it. This year the Association of World Reindeer Herders participated in 19th Traditional Reindeer Herders Competitions which took place in Yamal-Nenets autonomous okrug in the city of Nadym from February 28 till March 2. To take part in these competitions reindeer herders from all the regions of the Yamal-Nenets autonomous  okrug gathered in Nadym.

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Association of World Reindeer Herders participated in the celebration of Reindeer Herders Day in Nadym, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, Russia

• Alena Gerasimova

reindeer race in nadymFebruary 28 – March 2, 2014. Every year at the end of February, in March and at the beginning of April many reindeer herding regions in Russia traditionally start to celebrate Reindeer Herders Day. It is a very special event for local people, and especially for reindeer herders and their families, and they all are looking forward to celebrate it. This year the Association of World Reindeer Herders participated in 19th Traditional Reindeer Herders Competitions which took place in Yamal-Nenets autonomous okrug in the city of Nadym from February 28 till March 2. To take part in these competitions reindeer herders from all the regions of the Yamal-Nenets autonomous  okrug gathered in Nadym.

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Yamal plans to allocate more than 30 million rubles to eliminate critical emergency around reindeer loss

February 26, 2014 • Alena Gerasimova

Yamal reindeer loss 2014District Department of Agriculture, Trade and Food prepared and submitted for approval to the governor’s office draft decree “On the allocation of the emergency reserve fund of the Yamal autonomous district’s government”.  The project prioritized events for elimination of critical emergency, related to the loss of reindeer, and sum of expenses. According to operative data, the number of dead reindeer is now about 15 thousand.

On the basis of the represented needs of municipalities for the elimination of critical emergency  from the reserve fund there will be allocated 31,590 million rubles.

Reindeer herders also will be supported with financial support. There also will be providing with carbohydrate-vitamin-mineral supplements, feed concentrates, as well as fuel, purchase of veterinary medicines and firewood for reindeer herders in remote areas.

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Yamal Railway Officially Open, More Planned. Will Bisect Reindeer Migration Routes.

March 15, 2011 • Philip Burgess

The new railway line connecting the Yamal Peninsula with the rest of the Russian railway grid has been declared open to regular traffic.

Regular operation of the 572 km long railroad to its terminal point – the Karskaya station – was launched in February 15. The line connects major regional installations like the Bovanenkovo gas field with national key infrastructure.

The Obskaya-Bovanenkovo railway line will enable Gazprom to easily ship huge quantities of goods and construction materials to its field development sites in Yamal.

“The opening of this railway will facilitate all-year-round, quick, cost efficient and not-weather-dependent transport of goods and personnel to the fields in Yamal under the harsh Arctic conditions, a press release from Gazprom reads.

Unline other Russian railway lines, the Obskaya-Bovanenkovo line is owned by Gazprom. As previously reported, the Russian Railways have been invited to take over the line, but has shown little interest.

In addition to railway and field development in Yamal, Gazprom is also investing in the laying of the Bovanenkovo-Ukhta gas pipeline.


Map of Bovanenko

Source: Gazprom


Yamal Herders and Gas – Photos and Article

December 22, 2010 • Philip Burgess

Interesting article and superb photography displaying Nenets herders coping with oil and gas installations on their migration routes in the ‘Russian Photo Blog‘. The photographer spent quite some time with herders that migrat through the Bovanekovo filed and was also allowed access to the contstruction site itself.
View all the photos here and the article in which they were used here in the magazine ‘Fast Company’.


Reindeer Herding Documentary From Yamal Wins Award

November 30, 2010 • Philip Burgess

A Russian film has picked up the top honors at an international film festival in Bulgaria highlighting the best work on extreme sports, adventure and mountains.

The award-winning documentary about reindeer herders in the Polar Urals beat 80 films from 27 other countries.

“Nyarma” by Edgar Bartenev focuses on the Nenets people, their customs, family relations, lifestyle, as well as the unique tradition of reindeer herding.

The main character in the documentary is a young Nenets guy who, following the tragic death of his father, becomes the owner of a large herd of 3000 reindeer.

Gosha has to take responsibility not only for his family but for the entire neighborhood – the Polar Ural, according to tradition.

Capturing the spellbound beauty of the landscape, the documentary gives a deep insight into the nature of the indigenous people of the North, moving herds of reindeer.

The St Petersburg-based filmmaker, whose famous teacher was maverick director Alexey German, was quoted as saying that his first trip to the North was when he worked as a doctor in an intensive care unit. He was blown away by the Nenets’ permanent state of enthusiasm and their attitude towards each other, their deer and dogs.

“Relations between the people are amazing. I’ve never seen a husband screaming at his wife or offending his children. The Nenets never beat animals,” Bartenev was quoted as saying.


Watch a trailer here:


New Film From Yamal on Themes of Loss and Identity

April 21, 2010 • Philip Burgess

A film based on the Yamal Peninsula (with a strong connection to reindeer husbandry) PUDANA – LAST OF LINE was recently released to acclaim at the directed by the husband-and-wife pairing of Markku Lehmuskallio and Anastasia Lapsui, has been awarded the Grand Jury Award for the best fiction feature film at the 32nd Festival International de Films de Femmes in Créteil in France. This is the second time that Lapsui and Lehmuskallio have carried off this award from Créteil – in 2000 their film Seitsemän laulua tundralta (“Seven Songs from the Tundra”) won the same prize. The film has just returned from a release tour of several villages on the Yamal Peninsula.

PUDANA – LAST OF THE LINE is a story of change, upbringing and deprivation of identity. The film takes place in the Yamal Peninsula during Soviet times and is based on a true story set in Director Anastasia Lapsui’s childhood surroundings. A little Nenets girl Neko is taken against her will from her home chum (teepee) to a boarding school in a remote Russian village. Forced to adapt to a foreign culture and new customs, Neko rebels against Sovietisation and gets bullied by her schoolmates and picked on by her teachers. After several conflicts Neko decides to flee together with her Nenets school mate hoping to get back to her reindeer herding family on the tundra. However, the children’s flight in  is short-lived and the return to the boarding school and their new Russian life is inevitable.

The story is told as old Neko’s, or now Nadja’s, memory. Now, after long and full life, she recalls the moment that ended her childhood and started her life as a part of the other society. But something important has changed for good; Neko, the last of her family, has grown away from her original roots and lost her skill to sustain the ancient traditions of her family.

Source: Helsingin Sanomat


Russian Arctic tribe at risk from Yamal gas projects (REUTERS)

October 7, 2009 • Philip Burgess

By Amie Ferris-Rotman,  67 N LATITUDE, 71 E LONGITUDE, Russia, Oct 6 (Reuters) – The Nenets tribespeople of Russia’s frozen Yamal peninsula have survived the age of the Tsars, the Bolshevik revolution and the chaotic 1990s, but now confront their biggest challenge — under their fur-bundled feet is enough gas to heat the world for five years.

“For them it is fortune, for us terror,” said 20-year-old herder Andrei Yezgini, dressed from head to toe in reindeer skin, referring to ambitious plans by state gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) to drill the region Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has described as “the world’s storehouse” of gas and oil.

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Gazprom pipeline project harming tundra (Regnum)

May 28, 2009 • Philip Burgess


(Source: BarentsObserver) Gazprom’s construction of the 1100 km long pipeline between the Bovanenkovo field in Yamal to Ukhta in the Komi Republic is violating environmental legislation, local environmentalists say.

The critics are joined by several company employees, who say that the pipeline construction is harming the Arctic nature in the area, Regnum reports.

Garbage is dumped in the construction areas and heavy machinery is transported outside the construction zone, the critics say. In addition, environmental monitoring of the area is not properly observed, they maintain.

According to Regnum, skeptics already in 2005 expressed distrust with the environmental line of Gazprom’s project contractors.

Local authorities have on several occasions complained about the conduct of the construction companies. Among them is member of the village council in Malaya Pera, Aleksey Prokhorov, who complained to the prosecutors office about the pipeline constructors’ use of the village land without compensation. He also filmed environmental violations, and handed the documentation over to the local environmental organization Committee Save Pechora and the State Consumer Control Authority. The construction company was subsequently fined, but only with a minor sum.

The Bovanekovo-Ukhta pipeline will be the main gas transport route for the huge resources of the Yamal Peninsula. Gazprom is currently in the process of developing the Bovanenkovo field, which has estimated reserves of 4,9 trillion cubic meters of gas. About 70 km of the 1100 long pipeline will run across the Baydarata Bay. Also a railway line is under construction to the field areas.


Nenets Herders on National Geographic After Mammoth Find

April 28, 2009 • Philip Burgess

Yuri Khudi, and Kirill Seretetto during microsurgery on Lyuba, a baby mammoth discovered on the bank of a remote Siberian river in May 2007. Pic© Pierre Stine. 

Over a year ago, the discovery of a baby mammoth, that has since been named Lyuba (after the wife of the herder that first found the remains), in the permafrost of the Yamal Peninsula was worldwide news. Most reports stated that the mammoth corpse, preserved almost perfectly in the ice, was found by a reindeer herder. Now these herders have names and faces.

The National Geographic is releasing a documentary called ‘Waking the Baby Mammoth’ and Nenets herders Yuri Khudi and Kirill Serotetto and their families critical role in this historic archeological find is acknowleged. View the short clip below for some scenes from Yamal.


National Public Radio also covered the story this week.


Where Home Cooking Gets the Cold Shoulder.. (Washington Post)

June 2, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The following article appareared in the Washington Post and was by Andreas Viestand. He was accompanied on his trip by International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry Director Anders Oskal and World Reindeer Herders Association President Dmitry Khorolia arranged the visit to the tundra. SCHUCH’YE, Western Siberia — Of all the cowboy towns in this part of Siberia, this must be one of the roughest. When we ride our tractor into town, the first thing I see is a man with a gun next to a dead wolf. On a nearby field a group of men are showing off their lasso-throwing skills.

But of course it isn’t a cowboy town. It is a reindeer town. Outside the one-story administration building, the parking lot is nearly filled with parked reindeer waiting restlessly for a racing competition to begin. Inside the building, the women of the village are having a fashion show; almost all the clothes are made from reindeer skins. In a large tent, generous portions of reindeer stew are being ladled out. Even the wolf is connected to the reindeer: It was killed only after having preyed on a flock of them.

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Reindeer Carpaccio..

May 7, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Photo: Mette Randem) International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry Director Anders Oskal accompanied Lars Kullerud (University of the Arctic) and Dagbladet journalist Andreas Viestad and photographer Mette Randem to Salekhard, the capital of the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug. One outcome was the below article on Nenets, reindeer husbandry and food. See below for a Reindeer inspired carpaccio..

….Av alle cowboybyer i hele Vest-Sibir, må Schuch’ye være en av de røffeste. Det er i hvert fall det mest eksotiske stedet jeg har vært, på en ekte villvestmåte. Først våkne opp i Salekhard, den oljerike administrasjonsbyen ved utløpet av Ob-elva hvor skiltene henger skeivt på skeive hus, og smilene er så godt gjemt at det kan virke som om folk ikke helt har kommet seg etter Andropovs plutselige død. Så kjøre i en time på humpete veier over permafrosten, og deretter klyve over i en beltebil, som i tre lange og støyende timer arbeider seg utover på Yamal-halvøya.

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ENSINOR Wrap Up Workshop – A Summary

February 20, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The ENSINOR workshop involving key stakeholders from indigenous peoples (including several reindeer herders), administration and oil and gas officials was held in Rovaniemi in December, organised by the Arctic Centre, Finland. Florian Stammler and Philip Burgess have coauthored this summary.. On 10-11 December 2007 the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland held a 2-day workshop involving key stakeholders from northern Russia, Finland and Norway. Among the participants were indigenous representatives, oil and gas industry personnel, NGO representatives, government personnel, and a mix of natural and social scientists. Several members of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry were in attendance, including Anders Oskal, Svein Mathiesen, Philip Burgess and Ole Isak Eira. The workshop was the final activity of the 48-month project “Environmental and Social Impacts of Industrialization in Northern Russia (ENSINOR)”, which was funded by the Academy of Finland January 2004- December 2007. The project has made comparative case studies of oil and gas activities in two key federal districts – the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO) and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YNAO).

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ICR Interviewed by NRK Sami Radio on Nenets, Reindeer and Oil and Gas

January 31, 2008 • Philip Burgess

ICR Director Anders Oskal was interviewed by NRK Sami Radio on January 29th about the impacts of oil and gas development on Nenets reindeer husbandry. Oskal pointed out that there were a great many actors on the scene, some of whom are not willing to negotiate with reindeer herders.

Oskal also said that on his recent visits to the region (Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug) it was quite visible how oil and gas installations impacted the landscape and in particular, how pipelines cut reindeer pastures in two.

You can read a summary and listen to the interview here.

In another story on ‘Russia Today’ there is a short video clip on how oil and gas development is bringing economic opportunities to reindeer herders in the Nenets region. You can watch the video clip here. 


‘Final countdown for reindeer on Russian Tundra’ (Helsingin Sanomat)

January 30, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The english edition of the national Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat carried an article by Kirsikka Moring on the impact of the oil and gas industry on reindeer husbandry. The journalist attended the ENSINOR seminar in Rovaniemi, December 2007. You can read a more nuanced summary of that seminar on the Reindeer Portal.

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