Indigenous peoples - Arctic-fund

Indigenous peoples

Of all the indigenous peoples of the North, the Nenets are least numerous. They belong to Samoyedic peoples of Russia and sub-divide into Siberian (Asian) and European groups. The European group is native of Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Arkhangelsk Region. According to the census of 2002, the Nenets numbered 41,302, of whom approximately 27, 000 were residents of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.

Ethnonym ‘Nenets’ is translated as ‘genuine human’ and had gained foothold in the 1930s. Other names to refer to the Nenets include Nenech, Neney, Khasovo, and Neshchang, Still earlier, the Nenets would be called Samoyeds or Juraki.

The Nenets language belongs to the Samoyedic group within the Ural family of languages.

Traditionally, the Nenets practice animism, a religion that preaches the supremacy of spirits over human life and sustenance and believes that every river, lake and natural phenomenon is owned by a host spirit.

The Nenets have traditionally subsisted on reindeer herding, hunting and fishing. They refer to themselves as ‘children of the reindeer’. Indeed, nearly all aspects of their lives depend on reindeer. Reindeer herds are grazing all year round, watched by shepherds and dogs.

Chum, the traditional Nenets tepee, has been known since time immemorial. To the Nenets, chums are not only homes, they are miniature embodiments of the entire world. The vent on top is what allows to maintain connection with the Moon and the Sun, while the poles represent the air as an element enveloping the Earth. More well-to-do families would own larger chums.

The folk legacy of the Nenets is represented mainly by the vernacular legends, or rather epic songs, Jarabz and Siudbabz. The Nenets signing culture uses verse only rarely. Most of the songs are improvisations meant to convey feelings.

The nomadic life in the Arctic, the Nenets history, the world perception of a tundra man are all topics of the Nenets prose and poems by Nikolay Vylka, Prokopy Yavtysy, Liubov Neneyang, to name a few.

Indigenous peoples

Жизнь среди снегов. Быт и культура коренных и малочисленных жителей Крайнего Севера // Портал Интеллектуального центра-научной библиотеки им. Е.И. Овсянкина. — 22 февраля 2019 г. — Режим доступа: