nenets people

The Nenets are reindeer herders, migrating across the Yamal peninsula, thriving for more than a millennium with temperatures from minus 50°C in winter to 35°C in summer. Their annual migration of over a 1000 km includes a 48 km crossing of the frozen waters of the Ob River.

The discovery of oil and gas reserves in the 1970s and the expanding infrastructure on the peninsula, has challenged their indigenous lifestyle. 

When talking amongst themselves, Nenets speak a Finno-Ugric language. However, every Nenet under 50 speaks fluent Russian, as from the late Stalin period onwards, all children have been enrolled in Soviet boarding schools. At first, families resisted this policy, but today, boarding schools have become part of the typical Nenets life cycle and parents are supportive of the opportunities that this education provides.

Location: Yamal Peninsula, Siberia, Russian Federation

Photographer: Jimmy Nelson 

The cuteness of samoyeds and not knowing much about the Samoyed people (Nenets) people themselves makes it always kind of grim when you think of the real definition of the word “Samoyed”/“самоед”