The Nenets, also known as Samoyeds, are a nation of people who live in northern Russia. The meaning of the word ‘Nenets’ is very special, it means ‘real people’. The Nenets live from their livestock and take care of each other. In the first millennium, the Nenets arrived in this region and soon got the reputation of ‘best reindeer breeders’, because they are the only people in the world who can actually ride their reindeer like horses.
The Nenets are a nomadic tribe from Siberia, who live on the Jamal, which is a peninsula. The meaning of ‘Jamal’ is ‘the end of the world’, and that’s the right description of the area: the Nenets live in heavy circumstances and in cold weather conditions. Although there are many Nenets who have adjusted to modern life, even today there are Nenets people living the traditional nomadic lifestyle.
Very important for the Nenets are their reindeer, which are holy to them. Therefore, the Nenets do not only use them for functional aspects. They believe that they have an agreement with the reindeer: the animals take care of transport, food and other functional aspects, while the Nenets protect their reindeer with their lives. A clever solution for combining forces!
The Nenets are the only people who are able to ride on the back of a reindeer. They have developed a very special and intensive training for the animals, that requires specific knowledge and expertise. The older Nenets play an important role in that training, since they teach the younger Nenets how to train their animals.
The Nenets became masters in training and passing on knowledge from generation to generation. Training is also an important theme for the 35th Tribe, because we all need a mentor who teaches us everything about our field of work.