So much happened in the last two weeks, that I don’t know where to start. So I will post in the next days fresh impressions from my first weeks of fieldwork in a small village on the banks of the Pechora River.
Now it’s time of the midnight sun and I had the luck to watch a miracle of nature, when at midnight a double rainbow appeared in the south, opposite to the sun which was just on the horizon in the north.
From Naryan-Mar I travelled down the River Pechora to the little village of Khongurei to visit the Nenets journalist Julia Taleeva at her mothers place.
She promised to make me acquainted here with old people who still remember the old times, when they migrated with their herds in the tundra around the outpost Ledkova, which was established by Soviet authorities at the beginning of the 1930s when the the Kolkhoz of the red reindeer “Nyaryana Ty” was founded. The small settlement was abandoned already in the 1960s.
At the end of the 1950s Khongurei on the banks of the Pechora was chosen as the place where all reindeer herding families should settle down and reindeer herding had to become a shift work business for the men only.
Nenets reindeer herders were supposed to work like fishermen on the sea, and meet their families only in their free shift. At the long run the effect was devastating because the younger generation lost almost the skills of reindeer herding and the ability and motivation to live in the tundra. Most of the herders now are single man. Cattle and horse breeding and the fox farm are closed down, because the long winter and low fur prices make these businesses unprofitable.
I am living here with Nadezhda Kaneva, the sister of Julia, in the small four room wooden house that was build in the sixties, when her mother had to settle in the village.
Nadezhda is working at the post office, and helped me to register with the migration authorities. It took us several hours to fill out all the forms available at the post office, but we managed to send them by registered mail to the authorities.
I took my working place at Nadezhdas kitchen and she cared lovely all the days about my well-being.