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Nenets people

Nenets people

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The Nenets are an indigenous people in Russia. According to the latest census in 2002, there are 41,302 Nenets in the Russian Federation, most of them living in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug , is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the town of Salekhard. Population: -Geography and natural history:...

 and Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Nenets Autonomous Okrug is a federal subject of Russia .It has an area of 176,700 km2 and population of 42,628 as of the preliminary results of the 2010 Census , 21,296 of whom live in Naryan-Mar, the administrative center.-Geography and ecology:The arctic ecology of this...

. They speak either the Tundra
Tundra Nenets language
Tundra Nenets is a Samoyedic language spoken in northern Russia, from the Kanin Peninsula to the Yenisei River, by the Nenets people. It is closely related to Nganasan and Enets, more distantly related to Selkup and even more distantly to the other Uralic languages...

 or Forest
Forest Nenets language
Forest Nenets is a Samoyedic language spoken in northern Russia, around the Agan, Pur, Lyamin and Nadym rivers, by the Nenets people. It is closely related to the Tundra Nenets language, and the two are still sometimes seen as simply being dialects of a single Nenets language, despite there being...

 varieties of Nenets.

Name


Due to a false etymology
False etymology
Folk etymology is change in a word or phrase over time resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familiar one. Unanalyzable borrowings from foreign languages, like asparagus, or old compounds such as samblind which have lost their iconic motivation are...

, the name Samoyed entered the Russian language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 as a corruption of the self-reference Saamod, Saamid (the Samoyedic
Samoyedic languages
The Samoyedic languages are spoken on both sides of the Ural mountains, in northernmost Eurasia, by approximately 30,000 speakers altogether....

 suffix "-d" denotes plurality). It is the same as Saami (formerly Lapps or Lapons) in Finland, and Suomi, the Finnish name of Finland. In Russian ethnographic literature of the 19th century, they were also called "Самоядь", "Самодь", (samoyad', samod', samodijtsy, samodijskie narody) which was often transliterated into English as Samodi.

The literal morphs samo and yed in Russian convey the meaning "self-eater", which appears as derogatory. Therefore the name Samoyed quickly went out of usage in the 20th century, and the people bear the name of Nenets, which means "man".

When reading old Russian documents, it is necessary to keep in mind that the term Samoyed' was often applied indiscriminately to different peoples of Northern Siberia who speak related Uralic languages: Nenets, Nganasans, Enets
Enets language
Enets is a Samoyedic language spoken by the Enets people along the lower Yenisei River in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia. There are two distinct dialects - Forest Enets and Tundra Enets - which may be considered separate languages. There are only about seventy speakers in total, with slightly more...

, Selkups (speakers of Samoyedic languages
Samoyedic languages
The Samoyedic languages are spoken on both sides of the Ural mountains, in northernmost Eurasia, by approximately 30,000 speakers altogether....

). Currently, the term "Samoyedic peoples
Samoyedic peoples
The term Samoyedic peoples is used to describe peoples speaking Samoyedic languages, which are part of the Uralic family. They are a linguistic grouping, not an ethnic or cultural one. The name derives from the obsolete term Samoyed used in Russia for some indigenous peoples of Siberia...

" applies to the whole group of different peoples. It is the general term which includes the Nenets, Enets
Enets people
The Enets people , or Yenetses, Entsy, Entsi, Yenisei, Yenisei-Samoyed, Yenisey Samoyeds or Yeniseian people are a traditionally nomadic people who live on the east bank, near the mouth, of the Yenisei River. Many live in the village of Potapovo in Krasnoyarsk Krai in western Siberia near the...

, Selkup, and Nganasan
Nganasan people
The Nganasans are one of the indigenous peoples of Siberia. They are the northernmost of the Samoyedic peoples, living on the Taymyr Peninsula by the Arctic Ocean. Their territory is part of Krasnoyarsk Krai. Their "capital" is the settlement of Ust-Avam...

 peoples.

Nenets are just a part of the Samoyedic peoples. Sometimes their name is spelled as Nenet because of the erroneous assumption that the terminal 's' is for the plural
Plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

 number.

Language



Some 27,000 people speak the language.

History and way of life



There are two distinct groups based on their economy: the Tundra Nenets (living far to the north) and the Khandeyar
Khandeyar
The Khandeyar are one of the two groups of the Nenets. They are also known as Forest Nenets or Forest Yurak because they live in the forest region or Taiga instead of the Tundra like the other Nenets.The Khandeyar speak the Forest variety of Nenets....

 or Forest Nenets. The third group Kominized Nenets (Yaran people) has emerged as a result of intermarriages between Nenets and the Izhma tribe of the Komi peoples
Komi peoples
The Komi people is an ethnic group whose homeland is in the north-east of European Russia around the basins of the Vychegda, Pechora and Kama rivers. They mostly live in the Komi Republic, Perm Krai, Murmansk Oblast, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in the Russian...

.

The Samoyedic languages
Samoyedic languages
The Samoyedic languages are spoken on both sides of the Ural mountains, in northernmost Eurasia, by approximately 30,000 speakers altogether....

 form a branch of the Uralic language family
Uralic languages
The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

. They moved (from farther south in Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

) to the northernmost part of what later became Russia before the 12th century.

They ended up between the Kanin
Kanin Peninsula
Kanin Peninsula is a large peninsula in Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia. Latitude : 68° Longitude : 45°It is surrounded by the White Sea to the west and by the Barents Sea to the north and east. Shoyna is one of the few communities on the peninsula....

 and Taymyr
Taymyr Peninsula
The Taymyr Peninsula is a peninsula in the Far North of Russia, in the Siberian Federal District, that forms the northernmost part of mainland Eurasia and Asia...

 peninsula
Peninsula
A peninsula is a piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland. In many Germanic and Celtic languages and also in Baltic, Slavic and Hungarian, peninsulas are called "half-islands"....

s, around the Ob
Ob River
The Ob River , also Obi, is a major river in western Siberia, Russia and is the world's seventh longest river. It is the westernmost of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean .The Gulf of Ob is the world's longest estuary.-Names:The Ob is known to the Khanty people as the...

 and Yenisey
Yenisei River
Yenisei , also written as Yenisey, is the largest river system flowing to the Arctic Ocean. It is the central of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean...

 rivers, with only a few of them settling into small communities like Kolva. Their main subsistence comes from hunting and reindeer
Reindeer
The reindeer , also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic, including both resident and migratory populations. While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and one has already gone extinct.Reindeer vary considerably in color and size...

 herding. Using reindeer as a draft animal throughout the year enables to cover great distances. Large-scale reindeer herding emerged in the 18th century. They bred the Samoyed dog
Samoyed (dog)
The Samoyed dog takes its name from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia. An alternate name for the breed, especially in Europe, is Bjelkier...

 to help herd their reindeer and pull their sleds, and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an explorers later used those dogs for polar
Geographical pole
A geographical pole is either of the two points—the north pole and the south pole—on the surface of a rotating planet where the axis of rotation meets the surface of the body...

 expeditions, because they have adapted so well to the arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 conditions. Tundra wolves
Tundra Wolf
The Tundra Wolf is a subspecies of Gray Wolf native to the tundra and forest zones in the European and Asian parts of Russia and Kamchatka. Outside Russia, its range includes the extreme north of Scandinavia....

 can be a source of considerable economic loss, as they prey on the reindeer herds which are the livelihood of some Nenets families. Alongside with reindeer meat, fish is a major component in the Nenets' diet.

They have a shamanistic and animistic belief system which stresses respect for the land and its resources. They had a clan
Clan
A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...

-based social structure. The Nenets shaman is called a Tadibya
Tadibya
Tadibya is the mediator between the ordinary world and the upper- and underworlds of the spirits among the Nenets people. The Nenets rank their shamans after their spiritual attachment and function, as well according to their experience....

.

After the Russian Revolution
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, their culture suffered due to Soviet collectivisation policy. The government of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 tried to force the nomadic Samoyeds to become sedentary. They were forced to settle in villages and their children were educated in state boarding schools, which resulted in erosion of their cultural identity. Many, especially in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Nenets Autonomous Okrug is a federal subject of Russia .It has an area of 176,700 km2 and population of 42,628 as of the preliminary results of the 2010 Census , 21,296 of whom live in Naryan-Mar, the administrative center.-Geography and ecology:The arctic ecology of this...

 lost their mother tongue and became assimilated. Since the 1930s, a few Nenets have come to express themselves through professionalized cultural media. For instance, Tyko Vylka
Tyko Vylka
Tyko Vylka was the most famous Nenets painter and author, notable for his Arctic landscapes. He was also active in politics and has been elected the chairman of the Novaya Zemlya Island Soviet. Tyko Vylka has been a member of polar expeditions.Tyko in Nenets language means baby polar deer. Ilya is...

 and Konstantin Pankov
Konstantin Pankov
Konstantin Leonidovich Pankov was an ethnically Nenets/Mansi Soviet painter. Born in the far north in a family of hunters, he became the first Nenets artist. He started to paint his landscapes, although he had never seen any paintings. As Gennady Gor wrote, "Pankov's paintings are meditations on...

 became well-known painters. Anna Nerkagi is one of the most celebrated Nenets writers. Yuri Vella, though living as a reindeer herder, has become the first writer in the Forest
Forest Nenets language
Forest Nenets is a Samoyedic language spoken in northern Russia, around the Agan, Pur, Lyamin and Nadym rivers, by the Nenets people. It is closely related to the Tundra Nenets language, and the two are still sometimes seen as simply being dialects of a single Nenets language, despite there being...

.

Environmental damage is significant due to the industrialisation
Industrialisation
Industrialization is the process of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial one...

 of their land. Because of the expansive gas and oil industry, the reindeer pastures are shrinking and overgrazing of certain areas in some regions (Yamal Peninsula
Yamal Peninsula
The Yamal Peninsula , located in Yamal-Nenets autonomous district of northwest Siberia, Russia, extends roughly 700 km and is bordered principally by the Kara Sea, Baydaratskaya Bay on the west, and by the Gulf of Ob on the east...

) have further endangered the Nenets way of life. It has also been documented that climate change is causing problems for nomadic Nenets reindeer herders, as certain parts of the land they need to cross is only accessible in winter - which now comes later and leaves earlier. The Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk , formerly known as Archangel in English, is a city and the administrative center of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. It lies on both banks of the Northern Dvina River near its exit into the White Sea in the north of European Russia. The city spreads for over along the banks of the river...

-based medical doctor Leonid Zubov has documented that this sometimes causes Nenets people to lose access to medical facilities, as they are "stuck" in the wilderness for longer periods of time (waiting for the snow) and have to leave the villages earlier (before the snow melts).

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