Honouring our partners in the field: Arctic elders and their representatives
Most of the Rovaniemi anthropology research team went this last week to Naryan Mar, the capital of the European Russian Nenets Autnomous Okrug, for celebrating the 25th anniversary of our field partners there, Nenets peoples association Yasavey. Congratulations!
We are honoured and proud that they granted us as only foreign partner a whole hour in their anniversary programme, and thankful to the Naryan-Mar Social and Humanitarian college for hosting us.
Over the last four years, the Nenets Okrug was one of the key regions for our ORHELIA oral history project, and nowhere our Finnish Academy project (decision 251111) got more material on Arctic indigenous people’s oral history than here in the Nenets Okrug. That is thanks to Stephan Dudeck and his partners in the field.
We filled our hour besides the usual words of gratitude with a presentation of the project in general to the public, but most prominently the presentation of our materials that are going to go back to the people with whom we work. We were all working really hard to get the first version ready of a DVD with processesed ORHELIA materials from 5 Arctic regions. That DVD was our main present for our partners in the field, which we handed over solemnly to our friends from the Yasavey association.
On that DVD we selected a very small portion of “best of” sound and video materials from all our regions, and presented them to the approximately 70 person audience in the ceremonial hall of the “Arktika” cultural and business centre in Naryan Mar. The society of regional studies and the students of the Social-Humanitarian colleage in Naryan Mar also listened to that with great interest during separate presentations in the museum and the college.
It was nice to hear how the students laughed when Khache Serotetto, reindeer herder from North Yamal, made fun of the interviewer’s attempts to make him talk in front of a camera! For us it is important that the material that comes out of our oral history project is also funny for the listeners at times. Watch this space for updates on when a more fine-tuned version of our ORHELIA outreach material package will be available. We plan to have versions on DVD, on memory stick and also on an internet portal where you can download some of our materials to your mobile devices, or stream them directly. We would like to emphasize that only those materials became publicly available to which our partners in the field actually agreed, in written form. Many of our stories are so intimate that one could not display them publicly without violating people’s intimacy.
Another funny surprise we had during our trip: the world is so small that we happened to run into another “delegation” from Rovaniemi at the same day in Naryan Mar: We met Harri Pokka, the king of reindeer leather and skin processing in the North. We thank him for a wonderful dinner and a nice meeting, and are happy of having offered him translation support thanks to our wonderful multilingual anthropologists Nina Meschtyb and Katriina Grigorieva. We wish him success in his cooperation with Russian reindeer herding companies to preserve reindeer skins from rotting, and turn, how he says “rubbish into gold” by processing them into beautiful skins and leather products. This is also in a way knowledge repatriation, because by getting people in the Nenets Okrug to salt and cut their reindeer skins into a processable form, Pokka builds capacity. He does so in close cooperation with our partners from the Nenets peoples association yasavey, so that this is not just exploitation of raw material from Russia by a western company. Even beyond his Kolarctic project that he does on this issue with Yasavey , we hope that this will have a longer lasting effect even beyond the border of the European Nenets Okrug.
We are happy that our work finds so much support and discussion in the public, so that this research project ends up not ONLY in academic journals, but also in popular discussions. Here is a selection of reactions, kindly compiled by Stephan Dudeck:
Some first reactions from Naryan-Mar
Local TV-Station News (Florian likes this one especially)
Association of the Nenets people Yasavey
Alena Lyudvig about our meeting in the Naryan-Mar Museum
Alena Lyudvigs Fotos 1
Alena Lyudvigs Fotos 2
Alena Lyudvigs Fotos 3
Meeting in the socio-humanitarian college
here a previous one from Yamal
and from Lovozero