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

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.

Igor Slepushkin, Mikhail Pogodaev, Aleksandr SerotettoSpecial cultural program was prepared for guests and participants of the competitions, everyone could bye reindeer meat, fish, nenets handicraft and could see the exhibition and sale of national nenets cuisine at the special shopping street. Local people of the city of Nadym and guests had the opportunity to get acquainted with the indigenous population of Yamal. Special chums for guests were established, where everyone who interested could go and learn about the dwellings of reindeer herders, their way of life and talk with indigenous people.

The opening ceremony of the 19th Traditional Reindeer Herders Competitions happened in the afternoon, the 1st of March. The program of Reindeer Herders Day was full with interesting activities, which include lasso throwing, jumping over the sleds, national wrestling, competition in dogsleds, contest “Nomadic Family”, concert  “Yamal – my Home!” and “Arctic Man” – contest for heavy-weight sportsmen.

Mikhail Pogodaev in Nadym The Association of World Reindeer Herders with local reindeer herders and representatives of local administration visited Scientific Research Center for Arctic. Associate director of the Center, M.D. Andrey Lobanov together with his colleagues presented innovative eco-products: candies based of moss, tundra bread, chocolate and drinks with reindeer lichen, eco-crackers and other products. The Research Center staff told about beneficial properties of these products, and about possibility in the near future of producing ‘northern products’ in Yamal. The Chairman of the Board of the Association of World Reindeer Herders Mikhail Pogodaev told about Culinary Institute in Kautokeino (Norway), where among main purpose is to maintain traditional knowledge about food culture of indigenous peoples of the North. Local reindeer herders expressed their wishes and thoughts, all of the participants were very interested in this common topic, and expressed their will to cooperate.

museum of nadymLater on, guests visited the Museum of History and Archaeology of Nadym, where was held the exhibition of indigenous peoples “River Nadym – Breathe of the Numto Lake”, coincided with Reindeer Herders Day and initiated by local reindeer herders. The exhibition was dedicated to the traditional life of the forest Nenets, here were represented household items, fishing gear, national costumes and elements of the spiritual life of Nenets people.

alena gerasimova in nadymThe next day the Association of World Reindeer Herders visited camps of reindeer herders. Here a special ritual was committed – slaughtering of reindeer. This ritual is an integral part of the traditions and customs of the indigenous peoples of the North and is perceived as an honor to the dear guests. After the ritual act everyone could enjoy fresh raw meat and blood, visit chums and have a little chat with reindeer herders and their families. Main topic to discuss was the critical situation, that spread all over Yamal – snow conditions lead to reindeer starving to death.

nenets reindeerSunday afternoon was dedicated to the main event of the holiday – reindeer race. Competitions were very bright and colorful, guests and local residents were watching with great interest and actively cheer the participants. By the end of the day were declared the winners of the contest “Nomadic Family” and Closing Ceremony of the 19th Traditional Reindeer Herders Competitions wrapped up where winners of the reindeer races were awarded.

At the end we can summarize that the event turned out very interesting and entertaining. Although the great sorrow connected with reindeer death affected every reindeer herding brigade in Yamal, reindeer herders were trying to look cheerful and were very friendly.

nenets chumAssociation of World Reindeer Herders and International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry express deep gratitude to the administration of Nadym for the invitation to that very special event, many thanks to the organizers for the exciting program. A special gratitude and appreciation goes to the advisor to the head of Nadym, Vyacheslav Ivko, for the warm welcome and taking such a good care of us!

Alena Gerasimova,

International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry