Reindeer nomadism as profession, lifestyle, passion and love: Sergei Serotetto

русский текст ниже

One of the world’s most respected reindeer nomads, 1954-2021, mourning for a friend (all photos in this post © by Florian Stammler) Один из самых уважаемых оленводов , друг ушёл из жизни

The news from the tundra was a shock: last year we celebrated Sergei Serotetto’s 66th birthday together in his chum in the tundra of Yamal. Full of his typical humour and warmheartedness, surrounded by his family of three generations. Now he passed away, on the 27th May, in the tundra. Sergei Serotetto was one of the best-known reindeer herders in the Soviet Union, in post-Soviet Russia, as well as in the rest of the world probably.

Continue reading “Reindeer nomadism as profession, lifestyle, passion and love: Sergei Serotetto”

Long live the tundra nomads!

Just found out from the local news that in the Novyi Urengoy hospital two Nenets elders survived covid-19 and recovered from pneumonia, at the age of more than 100 years! These elders are so tough! I have also had the honour of meeting quite many people over 100 years old in the tundra particularly during our oral history project, who lived most of their lives with minimal imported stuff: eating mostly meat and fish, bread and tea. Little sugar, being outdoors 24/7 in Yamal, or in the chum, which in terms of fresh air is basically also outdoors:) . This shows that a lifestyle like that is perfectly healthy for the human body, much more so than a life in towns, let alone apartment blocks in skyscrapers… I dedicate this entry to all elders friends I have encountered throughout my field trips since the 1990s, and thank them for their openness, cooperation and their teachings.

Pupta_Pudanasevich_Yamal_2001
Pupta Pudanasevich Yamal, Tambei tundra, spring 2001. He was the ‘father’ of our oral history project, gave the idea for it. He was then over 100 years old, and remembers how Evladov came to visit him the tundra in the 1920s!

Language, silence and climate in Yamal

In spring we were proud to host the world’s first anthropological PhD defence in english by a Nenets colleague, Roza Laptander. Now we are happy that she got her first postdoc employment in the big EU Charter project that looks at biodiversity changes, reindeer herding and the climate. We continue working with Roza in work package three of that project, and in this function she shared thoughts on socio-linguistic research, the Yamal Nenets and her work on silence and stories in a video, which you can watch here.

Fieldwork story Stammler 2: Yamal, hunting for petrol and a wild reindeer

A story about my failed attempt of shooting a wild reindeer, and of a successful hunt for petrol

Khorot-Kolja_closeup
Yarkolana (Nikolay) Khorotetto, spring 2001

This story is dedicated to my friend Yarkolana (Nikolay) Khorotetto, who was tragically found dead (link in Russian) in the tundra, probably killed just after my birthday in 2019. This story takes us 20 years back, to my journey in spring 2001 with young Yarkolana and Dennis to Ostrov Belyi, White Island in the Arctic Ocean. We were all unexperienced and adventurous, did not know how to honour the spirits on Yamal KheKhe, the most sacred site in the entire region. Almost we were punished for this, but only almost. It’s a story of a steep learning curve, of immediate Soviet heritage, and of the hunger for intellectual food in the tundra.

Flo_Denis_OBelyi_inside0105
Dennis and Florian in a hunter’s container on white Island on the southern shore
Yap-Stepan bookOB
It turned out we were not the only ones in the abandoned village. For Stepan Yaptik the library was a top destination too: the books that we took along travelled later throughout the different camps of the tundra

 

 

 

Fieldwork story Stammler 1: Yamal, participation over observation is a health risk


participation over observation is a health risk

This was my first cold night ever in a chum in the Yamal tundra. It’s a story of ‘lesson learned’ early on in my fieldwork practice, that you need not only to be keen to participate in people’s life, but also be a good observer for the details. The price I had to pay for this in the end was a fever:(

Here are some photos from that day

after a sleepless night, with high temperature, I still couldn’t hold back and had to participate in the slaughter
He was the guy with whom I swapped the sleeping bag for a yagushka at night. In the rain he was wearing a parka made of Darnit, the material which you use for road construction between the pebbles and the sand.

 

 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is portsy_yakha_iri_boat.jpg
From the trading post Portsy Yakha to the camp site we needed to cross the river
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 0024-1.jpg
after a sleepless night, with high temperature, I still couldn’t hold back and had to participate in the slaughter
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 0016.jpg
He was the guy with whom I swapped the sleeping bag for a yagushka at night. In the rain he was wearing a parka made of Darnit, the material which you use for road construction between the pebbles and the sand.