International Scientific Conference "Archeology of the Arctic"
November 19-23, 2017

Geographic maps of the Yamal nenets in the materials of the land management expeditions.

E.A. Volzhanina

Institute of the North Development, SB RAS, Tyumen,

University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Great Britain.




The paper is part of research project “The personal transcripts of land entitlement expeditions in the Yamal peninsula in the 1930s”, British Academy Leverhulme Trust, grant SG152341. There are numerous references in the literature to the specifics of space perception by the indigenous peoples, particularly the reindeer herders, hunters and fishermen. The studies of this phenomenon focusing on the Eskimo people and the Evenks are well known, as well as the geographical notes made by them. These aspects of life of the Nenets residing in the European North of Russia and in the north of West Siberia have so far received much less attention by the researchers.  The paper offers an analysis of the discovered in the process of the archives studies geographical maps made both by the Nenets themselves and by other people with their assistance. It was established that the maps were a product of the original attempt of involving the Nenets in the process of mapping the Yamal in the course of land management expeditions of the 1930s undertaken with the aim of reformation of the traditional land use system resulting in the establishing of collective farms and final destruction of the land use pattern based on family ownership. Since there were no representatives of the indigenous peoples in the land management expeditions teams, the latter had to ask assistance of the knowledgeable members of local communities. The Nenets herders who knew their territory quite well were invited to work on geo-botanical maps making and as the guides, as well as the main informants and illustrators. For this purpose the specialized questionnaires were made which helped to get the required information about the seasonal pastures for reindeer, the types of vegetation, the fishing and hunting places. In addition a special methodology was developed helping to elicit correct information from the Nenets' answers to questions about distance and orientation in space to make it suitable for mapping. The paper is based on the materials from the funds of the State Archive of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (Salekhard).

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