Turning Points in the History of the Nenets
The Nenets are a Samoyedic people (related to Enets, Selkups and Nganasans), and it is believed that they separated from the Finno-Ugrian groups around 3000 B.C. and migrated east, where they mixed with Turkish-Altaic peoples around 200 B.C. The traditional economy of the Nenets and other Samoyedic peoples was mainly based on reindeer herding and breeding, fishing, and sea mammal hunting. Their society was organized into well-defined clans, each with their own grazing, hunting and fishing lands, as well as nomadic routes.
13th c - coming under the influence of Novgorod; The Samoyedic people who remained in Europe, came under Russian control around 1200 A.D., but those who had settled further east did not have much contact with the Russians until the 14th c.
1628 - By the early 17th c., all of the Samoyedic peoples were under Russian control. During the 16th and 17th c., the central government under the tsars ruled these peoples indirectly from Moscow. They established forts, from which they collected the despised fur tax, but left the actual administration to local rulers. Anyone who converted to Christianity was offered citizenship. The indigenous peoples suffered from their commercial and political contacts with the Russians. The Russians brought tools, firearms and various trade goods, including alcohol, which has plagued these people ever since. They also brought with them diseases that these peoples had never been exposed to before.
1824 - large-scale conversion to Orthodoxy;
1870s - partial resettlement to north-western border areas of Russia;
After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the Soviet government issued the "Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia", including a wide range of rights of self-determination, that largely remained on paper, as policies of "modernisation" were put through. In 1924, a Committee of Assistance of Peoples of the North was established. They first proposed creating large reservations where the indigenous populations could continue their traditional life-styles. But instead, the Soviet government decided to integrate these peoples into the larger social, political and economic body of the country. Around 1930, several "national districts" were established, administrative units named after one or two of these small peoples. Three such huge regions that exist today, are the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (administratively to some extent part of Arkhangelsk oblast), Dolgan-Nenets (Krasnoyarsk kray) and the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomus Okrug (Tyumen oblast).
1929 - formation of the Nenets Autonomous District, beginning of collectivisation;
1930 - formation of the Yamal Nenets Autonomous District; collectivization met with strong resistance among Nenets leaders, but to no avail. The government also establihed "cultural bases", with schools, hospitals, day-care centres and so on - mainly in an effort to minimize the nomadic lifestyle of the Nenets and other groups. More than fifty schools were built for Nenets children, and from 1938, Russian was the language of instruction. Nenets religion was also attacked.
During the World War II, the Soviets relocated much of their industry east of the Ural mountains to keep it away from the Germans. Because of this and as a result of huge state development plans, large numbers of ethnic Russian workers suddenly poured into Siberia.
1950s - the Nenets are broken morally and as a nation, as the traditionally pastoralist people are forced to adopt a resident life-style in the collective farms; in the early 1950s, there were several Nenets rebellions in the Arkhangelsk area against this cultural imperialism. The uprisings were suppressed, and rebel leaders were either executed or sent to remote prison camps, where most of them perished.
1960s - the beginning of the industrial boom and massive immigration: the biggest changes in Nenets life were caused by Soviet industrialization and the increasing immigration of ethnic Russians into Siberia. The Nenets and other indigenous groups found their land decreasing rapidly, and more and more of them gave up reindeer-herding for jobs at construction sites, oil and natural gas wells, and mass-production factories. The main industrial project that changed the lives of the Nenets, was the exploitation of the huge natural gas field in the Yamalo-Nenets national region, which since the early 1960s has caused severe damage to the tundra and taiga environment.
There have been strong calls for a preservation of the original indigenous culture, and there have been protests against industrialisation. Nenets leaders have joined the recently formed Association of Peoples of the North.
Turning Points in the History of the Selkups
The Selkups are a Samoyedic people (related to Nenets, Enets and Nganasans), and it is believed that they split away from the Finno-Ugrian groups around 3000 B.C. and migrated east, where they mixed with Turkish-Altaic peoples around 200 B.C.
The Russians began to occupy the middle reaches of the Ob River at the end of the 16th century. By that time there existed a Selkup community known as the Dappled Horde, headed by the Knyazets (little prince) Vonya, which for a long time refused to acknowledge the authority of the Russian Tzar.
1628 - The founding of the fortified settlement (ostrog) of Krasnoyarsk marks the subjection of the Selkups to the Russian domination and taxation;
18th c - Forcible mass conversion to Orthodoxy;
During the second half of the 19th century, the Russian colonization, russification and assimilation of the Selkup intensified.
The Bolshevik Revolution led to a series of disastrous changes in Selkup life. The southern Selkups, living on both sides of the Ob river, had already for some time had contact with Russians, and were well on their way to assimilation, while the northern Selkups lived in relative isolation in the Taz river valley. Collectivisation in the 1920s and -30s brought a flood of ethnic Russian and Ukrainian settlers, who had been displaced from their original homes, mostly upon accusations of being "kulaks". Agriculture was hard this far north, and the new settlers also supported themselves by hunting, fishing and lumbering. Vast forest areas were leveled. The southern Selkups fled the Russians, and settled further north, in the Ket and Tym river valleys. The collectivization, imposed sedentary lifestyle and aggressive atheism prove disastrous to the traditional Selkup lifestyle;
1960s - The now resident Selkups have adopted the Russian lifestyle and mass culture. The northern Selkups, who managed to stay in isolation a little longer, also suffered major disruptions in the 1960s, when the Soviets started large-scale development of oil and natural gas fields in the Yamalo-Nenets national region. The Selkups and other indigenous groups found their land decreasing rapidly, and more and more of them gave up reindeer-herding for jobs at construction sites, oil and natural gas wells, and mass-production factories. The main industrial project that changed the lives of the Selkups, was the exploitation of the already mentioned huge natural gas field in the Yamalo-Nenets national region, which since the early 1960s has caused severe damage to the tundra and taiga environment. As a result, there have been calls for the preservation of the original indigenous culture, and there have been protests against industrialization and the destruction of the environment. Selkup leaders have joined the recently formed Association of Peoples of the North.
Links to external websites about the Yamal-Nenets peoples, their land, history, and culture (pages will open in new window):
Endangered Uralic Peoples: