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The "Success Story" of Private Reindeer Husbandry in Iamal? A Look at Herders' Budgets 30 Years After.

In this paper, I discuss current practices of managing family budgets among nomadic reindeer herders of three raiony [municipalities] of the Iamal-Nenets Autonomous Region, Russian Federation. I also give examples of how informal practices of trade and exchange influence the development of reindeer herding in the region as well as the herders' ability to adapt to the market economy. On this basis, I explain why reindeer herders are driven to accumulate large private herds of reindeer despite growing overgrazing problems.


Interest in the economy of the individual household and the economic analysis of families as production/consumption units emerged in the late 1960s together with the so-called New Home Economics School established by Nobel Prize winner Gray Becker. (1) This interest has grown in recent years together with recognition of the link between the economy of the family/household and macroeconomic processes. (2) Since the 1990s, studies of household budgets by means of household surveys have become part of the standard economic monitoring toolkit applied regularly to various countries and sectors of society. (3)

In social anthropology, interest in the household economy has existed for decades. (4) Although there have been attempts to use economic methodology, such as household surveys, to study the household economies of indigenous peoples, including nomads, (5) to the best of the author's knowledge, no similar studies on reindeer herders living in the Russian Arctic exist to date.

The household can be defined as a small group of people living together, typically sharing a dwelling, who completely or partially pool their income and individual property, and jointly consume resources and use services, most notably food, housing, and clothing. (6) Household income can be further subdivided into monetary and natural income. Monetary income includes all monetary transfers into household budgets in the form of salaries, earnings from entrepreneurship, social transfers, property rental, remunerations, etc. Natural income can include products produced by the household itself by means of farming, craftsmanship, hunting, fishing, and collecting wild resources as well as products received by the household as donations in kind. (7)

Household economies differ significantly between states, and, not less significantly, within states. In most countries, there are a number of groups whose livelihood differs from that of the majority population due to the region they inhabit, their way of life, ethnic traditions, etc. This distinctiveness influences statistical and economic indexes of living standards both among the members of these groups and on the national level. In Russia, one such group are the Numerically Small Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East (Russian abbreviation KMNS). This generic term denotes ethnic groups whose members still lead a traditional way of life in the territory of their forefathers, engage in traditional economic activities, and have a clear sense of belonging to their ethnic community. (8)

An important feature of the Soviet system was its intrusion into the economy on all levels, including the household economy. The state attempted to regulate and standardize the level and structure of household income, household patterns of consumption, the distribution of economic roles and functions among household members, etc. In post-Soviet Russia, state intrusion into household economies has significantly diminished. This has increased the freedom of households to participate in economic and market activities and to exploit new sources of income. At the same time, it has dismantled the system of state support and guarantees, and has increased the pressure for household self-sufficiency. Consequently, the security and quality of life of the most economically vulnerable households has fallen significantly. This has been particularly so in the case of rural households involved in agriculture or various forms of pastoralism, such as reindeer husbandry. The latter is practiced predominantly (but not exclusively) by numerically small indigenous peoples (henceforth: indigenous peoples).

The Iamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (region) (henceforth: IaNAO) is currently experiencing rapid industrial and economic development. Alongside this, it has been promoting reindeer husbandry as its local brand both nationally and internationally. The fact that about 15 percent of the indigenous people in this okrug still lead a traditional way of life, that is, they live in nomadic dwellings and practice an economy based on nomadic reindeer herding, is seen to contribute to the image of the okrug. At the same time, since the nomadic reindeer herders are particularly vulnerable to ecological, economic, and social stressors, (9) the okrug administration has increasingly taken on the responsibility for protecting and supporting them. This includes providing essential services to the tundra-dwelling indigenous peoples, in the first place education and medical services, but legal and financial assistance as well. It should be stressed, however, that the majority of the IaNAO's indigenous peoples work in the spheres of education, medicine, culture, trade, and services.

Nowadays, most reindeer-herding households in the IaNAO can be defined as "natural-market households." By this I mean that a significant, in most cases, the largest part of goods produced in the household is consumed within the household and that a significant, in many cases, the largest part of household consumption consists of goods produced by these households. Nevertheless, contemporary reindeer herders have come to depend on a range of goods and services that they cannot produce themselves. A significant percentage of household production is spent buying these goods and services in the market. It has been claimed (10) that the need to secure a stable monetary income for satisfying such needs has turned into the major stimulus for increasing the number of private and personal reindeer (11) in Iamal reindeer husbandry.

At the same time, we know surprisingly little about the concrete economic parameters of contemporary private reindeer herding in the IaNAO. How much income in natural and/or monetary form do reindeer herders get from their occupation? How do they stand in economic terms? Which part of their income is derived from each of the reindeer herding products: meat, velvet antlers, bone antlers, etc.? How many reindeer must a modern nomadic family have in order to survive as reindeer herders? How large should a household's herd be in order to make its owners relatively prosperous? Who can be defined as a wealthy herder?

All these questions are of the first order. They are the first to be asked when planning support and development programs for reindeer herders. They are also critically relevant for such important measures as enforced herd reduction--an issue hotly debated in the IaNAO nowadays in relation to the environmental problems caused by overgrazing.

The only way to answer these questions is through a careful empirical study of reindeer herding households' budgets, and it is such a study we currently lack. The best approximation of such a study can be found in the already classic book by Florian Stammler, Reindeer Nomads Meet the Market. This study, however, is already quite old: a lot has happened both in Russia as a whole and in IaNAO reindeer husbandry since the material for this study was collected in the first years of the current century. Moreover, the study focused on one specific place, the Iamal Peninsula (Iamalskii Raion [municipality]) and it was not based on a quantitative survey.

In this article, I analyze the structure of the household income of IaNAO reindeer herders in order to answer the questions raised above. I use the results of this analysis to define the main factors determining the rise of tundra reindeer husbandry in the three main reindeer herding raions of the IaNAO: Tazovskii, Iamalskii, and Priuralskii (see Figure 1).

Below I first present the methodology of this research. I then proceed with an analysis of the current situation in the reindeer herding part of the IaNAO and outline the main factors for the growth of the semi-domesticated reindeer population of the region. This population is already the biggest globally, which is causing significant ecological problems. In the section that follows, I present a detailed analysis of the income of reindeer herding households. I demonstrate that the volume and structure of incomes, both monetary and in the form of reindeer products (natural), drives the growth of herds as the only viable option for herders to maintain reasonable living standards. I conclude by restating the main factors driving the current process to a "tragedy of the commons" (12) resolution, unless serious measures are taken by the okrug government. Ideally, this should be done with the participation of the reindeer herders and in collaboration with them. This, in my view, is the only realistic way to control access to the grazing range and introduce a workable policy for its use.


This paper is based mainly on observations and data I personally collected in the IaNAO in 2014-17, and on data collected with the help of other researchers in the same area in 2017-19. (13) The principal method of data collection was distribution of a questionnaire-based survey. Informants' answers were written in the survey form as well as tape recorded.

The choice of informants for the study was not random. The study focused primarily on private herders on their year-round tundra or forest-tundra migrations. The survey was carried out only with those herders who could be reached by the limited transportation available. Nevertheless, an attempt was made to reach out to as many herding households as possible. In each of them, the male head of the household, his wife, and grown-up children were asked to participate. Household incomes and their structures were then calculated by using a variety of statistical and economic methods (accounting, summarizing, determining income differentiation, abstracting, defining and analyzing socioeconomic indicators, etc.).

In total, in the period 2017-19, 180 reindeer-herding households took part in the survey, which corresponded to approximately 5.2 percent of all reindeer-owning households in the IaNAO. This bank of data yielded realistic conclusions about the reindeer-herding household economy of the region.

The informants' nomadic way of life and their permanent migrations over a roadless and sparsely populated territory represented the major difficulty in carrying out the research. For this reason, most of the survey was conducted in spring, when the stable snow/ice surface made possible the use of snowmobiles. The total distance covered in this way constituted about 2,000 kilometers. In addition, some households were surveyed during the annual spring holidays known as Reindeer Herder's Days that take place in many regional villages. On such occasions reindeer herders from adjacent tundra areas gather in the villages to take part in ethnic sports competitions. They also use the occasion to sort out various problems with the local administrations and financial offices as well as to stock up on food and other necessities to carry them through the summer period. (14) The concentration of herders in the villages made it possible to survey many local households at the same time.

The research showed that although reindeer-herder households typically coincide with family units, and their members are usually related to each other by blood or marriage and jointly possess household property (including reindeer), this is not always the case. There were a number of households consisting of unrelated members of several families who were living together temporarily due to the demands of effective reindeer herding. In nomadic reindeer husbandry, living together and sharing consumption and work often increase both work efficiency and security in the harsh sub-Arctic environment. Thus, rich reindeer herders can facilitate the pasturing of their large herds by inviting poor reindeer herders to live with them. This increases the available labor force per head of reindeer in the rich family's herd, while the members of the poorer family can economize by not slaughtering their reindeer and obtaining necessary meat, skins, and other reindeer herding products from the herd of the rich family. Furthermore, the rich family pays for the poor family's labor with live reindeer to be included in their herd. In addition, reindeer-herding families can join together in winter to economize on firewood and make it easier and faster to put up and take down the nomadic tent (chum) on the trek route. In all such cases, the reindeer-herding families share consumption and work, but not reindeer, which remain the property of the individual families.

In addition, reindeer herds pastured by nomadic households can include animals belonging to members of other households (usually of relatives), to settled people living in villages, to seasonally or completely settled fishermen who stay in summer or all year round on their fishing grounds, as well as to state, raion, or collective enterprises (sovkhozy). For herding such reindeer the herders are usually paid in cash (in the case of sovkhoz reindeer) or in kind (fish, live reindeer, products from villages). Herders can also use such reindeer to derive profit in other ways: by cutting and selling their velvet antlers (panty), by harnessing them in sledges, etc. In this way, these reindeer contribute to the household income, while remaining the property of others.

Taking all this into account, a reindeer-herding household can be defined as a group of people who may or may not be members of one family and who live together in one dwelling (chum), sharing their budget, expenses, and consumption, but who do not necessarily jointly own reindeer. In other words, in this definition, shared consumption rather than shared property is put forward as the defining feature of a household. The household emerges once the people start to share consumption and lasts as long as the shared consumption continues.

Reindeer Herding in the IaNAO: Factors for Growth

The reindeer husbandry territory of the IaNAO can be divided into two distinct areas, which differ from each other in the herding technology applied, in the number of reindeer and reindeer herders, and, what is particularly important for the present topic, in their typical household economies. (15)

The first area, which can be termed the "tundra" or "northern" one, includes the tundra and the forest-tundra zones of the northern part of the okrug. It extends over the whole of Iamalskii and Tazovskii Raions, and over the northern parts of the Nadymskii and Priuralskii Raions as well as the mountainous and foothill parts of Shuryshkarskii Raion. Here large-herd intensive reindeer herding (16) is practiced, characterized by controlled grazing and extensive seasonal herding migrations. Distances between summer and winter pasturelands can be up to 500 km long. As much as 95 percent of the total number of reindeer herders and 96 percent of the total number of semi-domesticated reindeer in the region belong to this area.

The second, "forest" or "southern," area includes the forest-tundra and the northern taiga parts of the Purovskii, Nadymskii, and Priuralskii Raions as well as the entire Krasnoselkupskii Raion. Extensive reindeer herding is practiced here, predominantly characterized by uncontrolled grazing of relatively small reindeer herds. Migration routes are typically small, with the radius of seasonal migrations from the main (winter) camp being as short as 30 km. Reindeer fences are also used. Currently, this area hosts about 100 reindeer-herding households, who pasture about 2 percent of the total regional herd.

Important differences between the two areas also exist in the number of reindeer owned by herding households. Thus while Selkup herders of Krasnoselkupskii Raion typically own around 30 reindeer per household, Nenets households of Iamalskii Raion can have up to 2,000 head. Accordingly, the structures of household income and the entire models of household economy differ significantly.

During Soviet times, reindeer husbandry in the IaNAO existed in the form of large state-owned collective enterprises (sovkhozy). They were responsible not only for producing and utilizing production, but also for maintaining rational exploitation of pasturelands and for providing reindeer herders with necessary goods and services. Reindeer herders working for a sovkhoz were responsible for the collective reindeer (obshchestvennye oleni), that is reindeer belonging to the enterprise. As their personal property, the herders could own personal reindeer (lichnye oleni), which they pastured together with the collective ones. (17) The number of personal reindeer a herder could have was, however, strictly limited. After the demise of the USSR, reindeer husbandry ceased to be state-owned, which opened up possibilities for private entrepreneurship. At the same time, it created problems for the herders due to the collapse of the sovkhoz-based system of providing goods and services. Researchers who worked in Iamalskii Raion in the late 1990s described the situation in the following way:
   [T]he problem of providing reindeer herders with food products and
   goods or, more correctly, of the absence, complete or periodic, of
   food products and goods in the tundra, is very serious. Trading
   posts [faktorii], most of them abandoned after Soviet times, cannot
   solve this problem. (18)

Later new enterprises, some of them not owned by the state, but all of them actively subsidized by it, were created on the basis of the former sovkhozes. Reindeer herders could choose either to work as salaried employees in these enterprises or to become private herders, who raise herds for their own subsistence and other needs. A factor influencing such a choice was the virtual collapse of the previous system of state provision of goods and services to migrating herders. This system has left behind a number of trading posts, which are currently kept afloat by the okrug administration. At these trading posts, migrating herders (mostly private ones) can buy necessary products, such as food, petrol, canvas, and services, or barter reindeer produce for them at state-stipulated exchange rates. Another feature of the general situation is that the new herding collectives--as descendants of the former sovkhozes--have also inherited their status of principal owners of the tundra grazing range and of being the biggest tundra landowners.

Currently, reindeer pastures in the IaNAO amount to 39,294.2 hectares, which is 51 percent of its total area of 76,925 hectares. In the three tundra raions--Iamalskii, Tazovskii, and Priuralskii--about 63.4 percent of the territory is owned (or, more correctly, rented from the state at a symbolic price) by large reindeer-herding enterprises, while the rest of the territory either represents so-called "reserve land" (zemli selkhozrezerva) or "excluded from the farming turnout" (isklucheny iz selskokhoziaistvennogo oborota) and rented to industrial, mostly gas drilling firms. The percentage of the territory owned by the enterprises per raion is given in Table 1.

Theoretically, private reindeer herders do not have rights to use pasturelands belonging to the previous sovkhozes (which means, in fact, any pasture land). In practice, however, neither the state, nor state enterprises have either tried to enforce administratively their exclusive rights to the land or even to limit the number of private and personal reindeer pastured there. Furthermore, although the former sovkhozes, being the land owners, are obliged by the state to use rational strategies of resource utilization, they can enforce regulations only regarding their employees, but not in respect of private herders.

Insofar as property of reindeer is concerned, all reindeer in the IaNAO can be divided into two main types: communal (obshchestvennye) and private (chastnye). While private reindeer belong to private persons and are managed by households consisting of one or several families, communal reindeer are owned and/or managed by entities other than households. Communal reindeer can be further subdivided into state-owned and collective. State property of reindeer is managed by state reindeer-herding enterprises, which often belong to raion administrations.

By collective reindeer I mean animals belonging to enterprises that are not officially owned by the state. These include clan communities (obshchiny) of the indigenous peoples, agricultural cooperatives, closed and open joint-stock companies, and limited responsibility companies. Officially, all assets of these organizations, including reindeer, belong to the collectives. Some of these enterprises also rent agricultural land (pasturelands) in tundra and/or forest areas. According to official statistics, by 1 January 2017 the majority of reindeer in the okrug were private. (19) The number of reindeer by categories of owners is presented in Table 2.

As the table shows, state enterprises own slightly more than 7 percent of the total herd. About 33 percent of reindeer represent collective property, while 60 percent of the animals are privately owned. About 60 percent of the 2,300 tons of reindeer meat produced in the okrug in 2018 was produced by private households and then sold either privately or through obshchinas.

It can be said that the inability or unwillingness of the state to enforce exclusive land property rights and rational land use measures, or to exercise control over the number of private reindeer, has given full freedom to private reindeer herders to enlarge their herds. It has thus increased the attractiveness of large-herd husbandry for tundra households. Therefore, this withdrawal of state control can be considered as the first factor (among others to be discussed below) which has made possible the unparalleled growth of private reindeer herding in the okrug.

The second factor is connected with the culture of the local reindeer herders and their approach to herding, which is a critical part of this culture.

Nomadic reindeer husbandry can be successful if it is practiced by people who have been historically connected with this economic activity and whose way of life has evolved in a natural reindeer environment under the harsh climatic conditions of the circumpolar region. Their professionalism is based on traditional environmental and reindeer herding knowledge, which reindeer herders learn in their childhood. According to official data, the total number of Nenets practicing reindeer herding in the IaNAO as of 1 January 2018 was 14,000. In Tazovskii Raion, the Nenets account for 99.8 percent of all reindeer herders. For the Iamalskii and Priuralskii Raions, the figures are 98.3 percent and 87.2 percent respectively. (20) Nenets herders not only show high levels of professionalism, but also maintain a specific attitude to private reindeer herds: to enlarge and protect them as much as possible. This attitude is not dissimilar to the famous "cattle complex" observed by Herskovits in East Africa. (21) Consequently, the Nenets typically underharvest their herds. When herders are asked why it is so important for them to limit reindeer slaughter and to raise large herds of reindeer, typical replies would be as follows:
   Reindeer for us are like the bank for you. You take only the sum
   you need from your account, don't you? We do the same: slaughter
   only as much as we really need.

   A herder can have 2,000-3,000 reindeer [and can harvest up to 800
   reindeer per year--S.Z.], but he is still not alone (and has
   relatives to care for--S.Z]. He would kill and sell 200 reindeer
   ... and would get only 1,200,000 roubles. He would buy a snowmobile
   and petrol, and that is all. It does not make sense for him to kill
   more. (22)

Among Selkup herders, for example, the attitude towards the size of the herd is rather different in the sense that it does not imply the "cattle complex":
   I have 28 reindeer and this is enough for me. Why should I need
   more? More reindeer would need many fences ... Now I let them out
   of fences in November, the deep snow does not allow them to
   disperse far away and I can collect them in spring ..., and besides
   that, I begin to hunt sable in November and, therefore, I get some
   additional income. (23)

It should be mentioned, however, that differences in the natural environment, which either facilitate large-herd husbandry, or, on the contrary, obstruct it, play a significant role. About 60 percent of the territory in the okrug belongs to the tundra and forest-tundra zones, where it is much easier to pasture large herds of reindeer in summer in comparison to the taiga zone.
   Here [in the tundra] it is colder, but there [in the taiga]
   reindeer couldn't stay, our reindeer would run away from there.

   Our reindeer would not survive in the taiga, they have got used to
   this land, they would immediately get thin there and would get
   various diseases. We can live there, but the reindeer would stay
   there for one--two days and then would immediately try to escape.
   If a fence were to be built, then the situation would be different.

But then again, some groups of Forest Nenets (they speak a different dialect than the Tundra Nenets) manage to pasture and raise herds in the forest zone:
   [W]e have now built a 10-km fence, it took us a month. We protect
   the reindeer, do not allow them to go to roads or be killed by
   poachers. Later we will build more fences, only in this way we can
   protect our reindeer. Of course, fishing helps, but we cannot live
   without reindeer, what will we do without them? We live that way.

The high percentage of Nenets households among reindeer herders, the inclusion in the Nenets reindeer-herding culture of a "reindeer complex" (the reindeer-herding analogue of Herskovits's "cattle complex"), and the adaptation of the Nenets to the tundra and forest-tundra environments represent the second factor contributing to the growth of private reindeer herding.

The third factor is the number of ways reindeer are used in tundra households. Reindeer are used for food, transportation, clothing, etc., and the herders' need for all these items limits the minimum herd size.

Reindeer herders live in very harsh climatic conditions where winter clothing and footwear made of reindeer hides are indispensable. Participant observations, interviews, and my own experience of tundra life have shown that in order to be able to live in a traditional reindeer-herding way, a man should have three reindeer-hide parkas (malitsa), four pairs of hide boots (kisy), and one outer parka, worn over the malitsa (gus). A woman should have at least four female parkas (iagushka) and four pairs of kisy. In addition, hides are needed to make the covering of the nomadic tent (chum) as well as bedding. The cover of the chum is made of four semi-conical covers (nuk), each made from approximately thirty-four hides. Inside the chum, up to twelve reindeer skins are used as beds. These skins are changed every year. Malitsas and iagushkas can last for three to five years, one pair of kisy lasts for two to three years. This means that at least one malitsa or iagushka and at least one (preferably two) pairs of kisy should be made for each member of the household every year. The life of a nuk is longer: eight to twenty-five years. Finally, during the winter months, one or two adult reindeer have to be killed for food each month, depending on the size of the household. (27) Reindeer herders can economize on reindeer slaughtered by storing skins for future use when reindeer are harvested for other purposes. Often the material needed for a set of clothes is collected over several years. Another savings is made by taking part of the hides needed from an enterprise's slaughter house, where they are often simply thrown away. Nevertheless, this survey has shown that, depending on the size of a household, reindeer herders have to slaughter from twenty to forty-eight reindeer a year for their own needs. On top of that, reindeer have to be killed in order that their meat can be sold or exchanged for fish or other products. A study by Alexander Yuzhakov, who interviewed regional reindeer herders in the early 2000s, produced a more or less similar figure. In his study, reindeer herders reported slaughtering an average of thirty reindeer per year for their own consumption. (28)

In addition, a reindeer-herding household needs a certain number of reindeer to be used as draft teams. During migrations they pull sledges (narta) loaded with household belongings. The larger the household, the more sledges are needed to transport its luggage and the more transport reindeer are needed to pull these sledges. Reindeer herders interviewed in the course of our study reported that they used from 30 to 80 transport reindeer per household.

The use of reindeer for transportation and clothing is part of the traditional reindeer-herding way of life in the subarctic. Reindeer herders cannot sustain this way of life unless their herds provide for all their needs. Therefore, they cannot avoid having relatively large herds.

Currently, the IaNAO has the largest total herd of semi-domesticated reindeer in the world. The absence of rational land use strategies and lack of control over access to land have led to a significant degradation of regional fodder resources. A geobotanical research survey carried out in 2017-18 has shown that the reindeer population in the tundra raions is currently significantly beyond the carrying capacity of the pasturelands (see Table 3).

As can be seen from this table, winter pasturelands are particularly affected. In fact, the tundra zone of the okrug no longer has a harvestable store of winter forage (particularly lichen), and reindeer now eat the fodder needed for biological reproduction of the plants. The inadequate state of the grazing range accompanied by adverse winter weather conditions periodically leads to the mass death of animals from starvation.

For example, in the winter of 2013-14, about 90,000 reindeer died in the IaNAO. Their death was caused by rain that fell on the already formed snow cover in the beginning of the winter. The resulting hard crust blocked access to the already scarce lichen. Those reindeer who survived the winter were so weak in spring that they could not make it to the summer pasturelands.

It should be noted that while households having large herds of approximately 1000 reindeer can survive a mass crash without a catastrophic drop of income, for poor households--those with less than 250 reindeer--a mass dying out of reindeer means a radical drop in living standards and a long dependence on social assistance from the state. Consequently, the increased probability of reindeer loss due to adverse weather conditions, inadequate forage, and epizootics makes it reasonable and necessary for herders to attempt to increase their herds as much as possible. This is the fourth factor explaining the rapid rise of reindeer numbers in the IaNAO.

Russian ethnographers often say that it is the increase of reindeer herds per se rather than the maximization of income that is the main aim of Nenets reindeer herding. As Klokov and Khrushchev put it: "It can be said that, in contrast to other reindeer herding peoples of Russia, the Nenets live in order to raise reindeer herds rather than raise reindeer herds in order to live." (29)

Although some of the ethnographic materials and interview quotations given in this paper can create the impression that the above statement is correct, my own research of mostly Nenets reindeer herding household economies and trade practices suggests that the economic aims of the herders are quite rational: the number of reindeer owned by their households is defined by their economic needs. In this sense, reindeer herders are no different from any other representatives of modern society.

2.1. Reindeer herders' Income

In this section I will analyze the income of private reindeer herding households and its relation to the size of a household's herd. In so doing I will answer the question of how many reindeer a household should have in order to (i) barely survive as reindeer herders, (ii) be relatively well off, and (iii) be wealthy. This will explain why reindeer herders need large herds and why they are hesitant to limit their herds' growth.

2.1.1. Natural income

The natural income of reindeer herders of the Iamalskii, Tazovskii, and Priuralskii Raions consists of the products of reindeer herding produced by the herders themselves and consumed inside their households as well as goods provided to them by the state. These last are provided to support their traditional way of life (so-called "goods for ethnic consumption"--tovary national-'nogo potrebleniia, henceforth: "ethnic goods").

In order to assess the natural income from reindeer herding in monetary terms, I took into account the following factors: the average number of reindeer harvested for consumption in a household depending on the size of the herd and the social structure of the household (number of adults, elderly members, children); the percentage of adult reindeer and of calves among the harvested reindeer; the mean weight of calf and adult animal carcasses; the mean price of a kilogram of carcass meat. This data, gathered during the survey, is presented in Table 4.

The next table, Table 5, presents the average size and structures of households surveyed. As the basis for further calculations, I took an average figure of six persons per household.

The table shows that an average reindeer-herding household in the three raions consists of six persons: two adults, three children, and one elderly person. These are the numbers used in further calculations. The results of the survey have also indicated that on average approximately 60 percent of the harvested reindeer were calves and approximately 40 percent were adult animals. All this data made it possible to determine the monetary equivalent of the natural income of an average herding household (Table 6). It shows that the equivalent of reindeer meat produced and consumed in an average household per year is 174,000 rubles (approx. USD 2,700 (30)).

The second important part of the natural income of reindeer-herding households consists of the "ethnic goods" mentioned above. The list of these goods is defined by a special decision of the okrug government. (31) Different goods are given out with different frequency. The list of goods, their price, and the frequency with which the herders receive them are given in Table 7.

As the table shows, what a reindeer herding household gets as "ethnic goods" is equivalent to about 84,000 rubles a year (USD 1,300). This means that the total natural income of an average reindeer herding household of six members equals approximately 258,000 roubles (USD 4,000).

2.1.2. Monetary income

The monetary income of a reindeer-herding household, if we speak about independent private herders who do not work for an enterprise, typically consists of: (i) income from selling reindeer meat; (ii) income from selling bone antlers; (iii) income from selling velvet antlers; and (iv) social transfers from the state.

The monetary income varies significantly depending on the size of the herd owned by the household. In this analysis, reindeer-herding households have been divided into groups depending on the size of their herds from 100 to 600 heads, with a lag of 100 heads. In addition, for comparison, I have analyzed separately the rare households with herds of approximately 1,000 animals, households considered by the herders to be exceptionally wealthy. The data on the number of reindeer harvested and sold as well as on the quantity of bone and velvet antlers sold was collected in 2017-19. Prices for 2018 were used as the basis for the calculations below. These calculations were made for each one of the three raions to obtain average values. Then the values were used to calculate the averages for tundra household economies in general.

In these calculations, the following factors have been taken into account: (i) average number of reindeer harvested for meat selling per household per year; (ii) mean weight of a reindeer carcass of the 1st and the 2nd categories of quality; (iii) the percentages of reindeer slaughtered per categories of quality; (iv) mean price of a kilogram of meat of the 1st and the 2nd categories; (v) mean prices of bone and velvet antlers. The resulting calculations are presented in Tables 8 and 9.

As can be seen from Tables 8 and 9, reindeer-herding households, depending on the size of their herds, can make from 160,000 to 1.8 million rubles per year on reindeer-herding products (approx. USD 2,500-28,000). It should be noted, however, that this income is contingent on success in trade (all the reindeer slaughtered sold for their mean price) and on a not-worse-than-average production rate in the given year (average calf loss, average reindeer loss, animals fed averagely).

Table 8 shows that the prices for reindeer-herding products vary significantly between raions. The same can be said about the amount of each product sold. Therefore, it is interesting to compare the relative roles of each of the three basic reindeer-herding products in household income in the three raions. Indeed, this will demonstrate different forms that the income structure can take. To this end, I compared averages across the three herd size groups--the two extremes (100 and 1,000 reindeer), and the middle (500 reindeer) (Figure 2).

As can be seen from Figure 2, velvet antlers are the main reindeer herding product (in terms of income) for households of Tazovskii and Priuralskii raions. This can be explained by the wide range of goods and services provided to the herders by velvet antler traders in Tazovskii Raion (32) (e.g., supplying expensive imported snowmobiles to the herders in exchange for future velvet antler supplies), high prices for these antlers in Priuralskii Raion, and certain problems with the meat trade in both of these raions.

Velvet antlers are taken only from male reindeer in their second and third year. Such reindeer make up a maximum of 25 percent of the total herd. The antlers are cut mostly in July, when reindeer herders stay far away from settlements and the conditions for traveling are at their worst. Bone antlers are cut from males in spring. Antlers are not cut from females (cows), particularly pregnant ones, because the cows need them to chase away small predators and birds that attack their calves immediately after calving. Later in spring, however, reindeer herders collect antlers dropped by the females on the calving grounds. Bone antlers are sold to traders and through obshchinas, as well as to reindeer-herding enterprises. Sometimes antlers are sold at trading posts situated in the tundra at known places of herders' migrations.

Prices for bone and velvet antlers depend mainly on transportation costs. These, in turn, are determined by the available transport infrastructure and the distance between trading places and settlements. For example, the quickly perishable velvet antlers are usually bought directly at the site of their cutting at reindeer herders' camps. In Iamalskii and Tazovskii Raions, summer roads are virtually nonexistent, and the traders have to charter helicopters to visit these camps and transport velvet antlers from there. Chartering a helicopter is expensive. On Gydan Peninsula, for instance, it can cost up to 250-300,000 rubles per flight hour (USD 3,800-4,600). The high demand for velvet antlers on Asian markets allows the traders to bear these costs but forces them to keep the price at which they buy the antlers relatively low in order to make some profit. By contrast, in Priuralskii Raion reindeer herders' camps are situated on the slopes of the Urals and can be reached by first traveling on an automobile road or the railroad that runs along the Urals and then via industrial roads along the gas pipelines going from the Iamal Peninsula to the Komi Republic. Special low tire-pressure vehicles, known as trekols, are needed to travel the last leg of the route. The availability of roads decreases transportation costs, increases competition between antler traders, and thus leads to higher prices for the velvet antlers.

Since the internal meat market of the three raions is very small, the amount of meat reindeer herders can sell depends first of all on their access to slaughter-refrigeration complexes. These last can buy a lot of meat at once to freeze and transport to the south. There are three such facilities in Iamalskii Raion, while Tazovskii and Priuralskii Raions have two complexes each. The closer such a complex is situated to a household's migration route, the more meat this household is capable of selling. In the territorially huge Tazovskii Raion, many reindeer herders are situated too far away from the complexes during the harvesting season. This is in November and December, when reindeer are fattest and the harvesting is at its most profitable. This makes the velvet antler trade the more important source of income for these herders. Moreover, many reindeer herders are not satisfied with the low meat prices in this raion. The herders also argue that it makes no sense to slaughter reindeer for money, when relatively good money can be made on live reindeer by selling their antlers. In Iamalskii Raion, the complexes are very conveniently located in such a way that they are accessible for most herders. The competition between the complexes keeps the prices high, and therefore the herders sell a lot of meat. However, the amount of meat sold has been low during the last two years: the past two springs were long and cold, which negatively affected calf survival and increased the loss of adult reindeer. Iamalskii Raion also has the highest percentage of poor households, defined as those with fewer than 200 reindeer. These households cannot afford to slaughter many reindeer. Finally, in Priuralskii Raion, access to the complexes is good (the complexes are conveniently situated directly on the migration routes) and the herders sell a lot of meat. However, the velvet antler prices are so high here that the income from them is still higher than the income from meat.

The following diagram (Figure 3) shows the structure of income from reindeer herding products depending on household herd size (the averages for the three raions are used). The figure suggests that the antler trade is particularly important for poor households. Velvet antlers are important because by midsummer many households run out of staple food (bread, wheat, tea, sugar), as well as other necessities, and trading with a velvet antler trader is their only way to get these goods. This is the season when travel to distant settlements or trading posts is impossible due to the many open rivers and bogs. Difficulties also arise because transport reindeer, the only means of transportation available to herders in the summer, quickly become exhausted when they have to drag reindeer sledges over terrain not covered by snow. In winter, when rivers and bogs are frozen and the ground is covered by snow, access to settlements and trading posts is much easier.

Reindeer meat becomes the most important source of income for households with more than 250-400 reindeer. This survey shows that such households annually harvest 30 to 50 reindeer for sale. Furthermore, their herds allow them to satisfy all their needs as nomadic reindeer herders. In rich households with more than 500 reindeer, the role of the antler trade diminishes because their herds allow them to maintain high living standards, and they can thus afford to dispense with cutting velvet antlers.

2.2.3. Social Transfers

Social transfers from the state are the last major source of monetary income. Four kinds of social transfers are most important for nomadic herders: (i) social assistance payments to people leading a traditional way of life (these payments have been established by the administration of the IaNAO and are commonly referred to as "kochevye"--nomadic money); (ii) old age pensions; (iii) social assistance for children (detskoe posobie); and (iv) social aid to families with three or more children (posobie mnogodetnym sem'iam).

Social transfers received by households vary according to the number of people in a household, their age, and the status of the household: "poor," "family with more than three children," etc. In order to calculate the average sum of social transfers, I used the data for an average household of six members (Table 5, above). They are assumed to be two economically active adults, one elderly person, and three children (a baby younger than three, a preschooler between three and seven, and a schoolboy/schoolgirl between seven and sixteen).

The survey has shown that most of the elderly reindeer herders receive the so called "social pension." This is the minimal monthly pension of 8,000 rubles (USD 123), which is paid to all Russian citizens and which does not depend on income. "Nomadic money" is paid to people over eighteen if they are not enrolled in any educational program, do not perform military service, and lead a traditional way of life. In other words, this aid is meant for persons who practice nomadic reindeer herding as their main occupation.

The children of tundra nomads attend boarding schools in settlements, where they are provided for by the state. Therefore, reindeer herders are not entitled to social assistance for children when their children are at school, but they do receive this money during the three months each year when the children are on school vacations and live with their parents in the tundra. For preschoolers, the assistance is paid full-time. In addition, since preschoolers cannot attend day care centers, the households get a monthly payment of 3,500 rubles (USD 54) as compensation for being unable to use this service (paid only for children younger than five). Table 10 summarizes the social transfers to which an average six-member household is entitled.

The table shows that an average reindeer herding household gets 258,000 rubles (about 3,970 dollars) in social transfers annually.

The calculations presented in the table make it possible to calculate the approximate average income of reindeer-herding households in the tundra zone of the IaNAO according to the size of the herd possessed by a household. Below I present calculated incomes and income structures for households having 100, 300, and 500 reindeer. As the survey suggests, herders would consider such households to be "poor," "middle class," and "wealthy," respectively. The calculations have been made for an average six-member household as described above. Table 11 gives the numerical values of incomes, while Figure 4 presents the structures of income of each household type.

In other words, poor households (with approx. 100 reindeer) make approximately 8,438 dollars per year, "middle-class" households (with approx. 300 reindeer) earn about 16,377 dollars per year, and wealthy households (with approx. 500 reindeer) make approximately 22,962 dollars per year.

Note that poor households with herds of 100 animals cannot afford to harvest for subsistence 32 reindeer per year, which is the number used in the natural income calculations. The number these households can afford to harvest is not more than 8 reindeer, which makes their natural income from reindeer meat drop to only 42,000 rubles.

How large are the income totals I have calculated and how high are the living standards that these incomes support? It is, of course, impossible to tell precisely, because any evaluation of quality of life is relative. One way to put the calculated sums in context is to compare them with the so-called "existential minimum" (prozhitochnyi minimum): the level of income, officially determined, that defines which households can be categorized as "poor" and thus in need of state assistance. The existential minimum is calculated every three months separately for each province of Russia. In the IaNAO, the existential minimum as of June 2018 (that is, right in the middle of the survey period) was 15,983 rubles (about 246 dollars) per person per month, which equals 1150.78 thousand rubles (about 17,704 dollars) per 6 persons per year.

This means that both poor and middle-class (by tundra standards indicated above) reindeer herding households are below the living minimum as far as income is concerned. This actually makes them eligible for child assistance money, and thus only rich households can be considered "not poor" by state standards. Of course, one should be extremely cautious when applying the "existential minimum" to reindeer herders. Indeed, this figure is calculated for sedentary people with a particular sedentary structure of expenses. For example, in the IaNAO it includes payments for central heating, water, and electricity, as well as for the purchase of warm winter clothing. In the case of reindeer herders, all these come as natural income, which I did not take into account in my calculations. On the other hand, the existential minimum does not include expenses for petrol, lubricants, spare parts, etc., which are absolutely necessary in modern reindeer husbandry. In any event, it can be concluded that as in other subarctic regions, such as, for instance, those of the USA and Canada, a good part of the indigenous population tends to belong to income groups with living standards below those of the majority population.

As it can be seen from Figure 4, poor households, those consisting of six persons with herds of 100 reindeer, are primarily dependent on state assistance in their household economy (income from the velvet antlers trade coming second). In middle-class households, those with 300 reindeer, state transfers still represent the main source of income, but the role of the reindeer meat trade increases significantly and becomes equal to that of velvet antlers. Households with 500 reindeer obtain their main income from the meat and antlers trade, while the importance of state assistance for them drops by 40 percent in comparison to poor households.

In my calculations, I did not take into account income, natural as well as monetary, from berry picking, hunting, fishing, producing and selling goods such as sledges, driving poles (khorei), nomadic tent poles, lassos, traditional clothes, etc. Nomadic reindeer herders hunt and fish mainly for subsistence, and, although if taken into account, hunting and fishing could increase their natural income, this increase would hardly be significant. It happens more often that reindeer herders buy fish and game from semi-nomadic fishermen. The fact is that to bring in any serious profit, hunting, fishing, and making goods for trade, one needs to take away time from herding duties and lead a more settled life. Therefore, these economic activities are more usual among older herders, who are free from working with the herd, for those herders who have lost their reindeer and have become partly or fully settled, as well as for taiga herders with their small herds.

All this proves that the size and the structure of household income, as well as the living standards of a household, directly depend on the number of reindeer it controls. This is yet one more factor leading up to the increase of private and personal herds in the okrug.

The reindeer-herding household economy has changed significantly during the last decade. The range of goods and services reindeer herders have come to be dependent on and have to buy has increased, while the prices for these goods and services keep rising. Nowadays, it is difficult to find a reindeer herder who would drive for dozens of kilometers to a settlement on a reindeer-drawn sledge. Snowmobiles and electric generators have become indispensable parts of reindeer-herding life.

Snowmobiles, in particular, are currently used for pasturing herds and looking for lost reindeer. Snowmobiles decrease the costs of using slaughter-refrigeration complexes because they allow quick and direct delivery of reindeer, easing accommodation to slaughter schedules and ensuring the uninterrupted work of the facility. But snowmobiles are expensive: in Iamalskii Raion, for example, an average middle-class reindeer-herding household spends about 64 percent of its monetary income on food products and about 25 percent on gasoline, lubricants, and spare parts for snowmobiles and electric generators. (33) This survey suggests that a reindeer-herding household uses 1,600 to 2,400 liters of gasoline annually. This increased dependence on the market makes herd size the only guarantee of reasonable social standing for a household.

2.2. Salaried Herders

The household economy of herders who work for reindeer-herding enterprises (former sovkhozes) is much more stable. In 2017, the year this research began, there were four state-owned reindeer herding enterprises and four reindeer herding cooperatives in the three tundra raions. The reader should bear in mind that cooperatives, in contrast to the enterprises, are not officially state owned, despite the fact that their structure and way of functioning are very similar.

At the time of the survey, these enterprises and cooperatives employed a total of 62 reindeer-herding teams (brigades). An average brigade consists of four male herders and four female tent-workers (chumrabotnitsy). As a rule, only men of working age and their wives are salaried brigade members, while their children and older relatives live together with them, but are not officially employed. Up to four such households are allowed in a brigade. The number and percentage of reindeer-herding families whose members were employed by enterprises in 2017 in each raion is given in Table 12. It should be noted that the value of the statistics is diminished by the fact that while only families are covered, some of these families can make up joint households with other families.

As can be seen from this table, less than 10 percent of reindeer-herding families in the three tundra raions worked for the herding enterprises in 2017. At present, this percentage is even smaller, because the number of enterprises has decreased. Thus over 91 percent of reindeer-herding households are currently completely private.

However, reindeer herders employed by enterprises also have personal reindeer. They differ from the completely private herders in that they also pasture, apart from their own herds, the enterprise's herds and follow the migration routes and pasture schemes established by the enterprises. The average salary for this work is 20,000 rubles/month (roughly USD 308), while a tent-worker gets 16,000 (USD 246). The established migration routes, priority access to pasturelands, and monthly pay make the lives of enterprise-employed households much easier and more comfortable than those of the private herders. Most importantly, their income is much larger. My calculations show that the income of an employed household is always 30 percent larger in comparison to the income of a completely private household with a herd of the same size. Here the personal herd of the employed household is compared to the private herd of the private household.

This makes a great difference. For example, it means that in the case of employed households, a personal herd of 300 reindeer (middle-class standard) is enough to yield an income well above the regional "existential minimum". In other words, post-sovkhoz reindeer herders tend to enjoy living standards higher than those of private ones. This explains why working for an enterprise is something most private herders dream about. The small number of enterprises and the limited number of working positions in them determines, however, that only few of them can see this dream come true.


Today the IaNAO has the largest population of semi-domesticated reindeer in the world. The absolute majority of these reindeer are pastured privately in the tundra part of the okrug. This study, carried out with reindeer herders of this part of the IaNAO, has shown that the increase in reindeer numbers and the development of reindeer herding has been caused by the following factors:

1. The complete absence of state control over access to pasturelands and the number of private/personal reindeer grazed there. Even in state-owned reindeer-herding enterprises, personal reindeer can constitute the majority of brigade herds. Enterprise administrations seem unable or unwilling to stop this trend. Thus, in enterprises of Tazovskii and Iamalskii Raions, personal reindeer can account for 50 to 60 percent of the herds, while in Priuralskii Raion this percentage is from 30 to 40 percent. This creates relative freedom for the herders to promote their own private interests, and easily to go fully private in case of a dispute with enterprise administrations or deterioration of the enterprise itself;

2. The culture of reindeer herding: the specific Nenets type of nomadic economy and professional approach to reindeer breeding. About 95 percent of reindeer herders in the okrug's tundra zone are Nenets;

3. The dependence of tundra nomads on reindeer transport, clothing made of reindeer hides, and reindeer meat for subsistence. This dependence historically ensured that private household herds could not fall below a certain minimum size;

4. The danger of losing a large number of reindeer due to adverse weather conditions and epizootics. This danger makes it reasonable to increase one's herd as much as possible, so that at least a minimal number of reindeer remain should a crash occur;

5. Dependence on the velvet antler trade as a source of food products and goods in summer precludes large-scale harvesting. The velvet antler trade has created a specific cluster of traders who take food and goods to reindeer herders in summer and who have thus assumed the role of suppliers during summer migrations (a role formerly performed by sovkhozes).

IaNAO government support to reindeer-herding households, investments in slaughter complexes and trading posts, and support for meat processing facilities have significantly increased the reindeer meat market. The growing demand for reindeer-herding products, most notably antlers, has made it possible for the herders to exist as private producers, but only if they increase the size of their herds. However, this increase has already broken the balance between the number of reindeer and the carrying capacity of the pasturelands. Therefore, the further development of reindeer herding in the okrug is uncertain: on the one hand, the number of reindeer should decrease due to carrying capacity limits, while on the other, neither the herders nor the state can afford to see the decrease in living standards in the tundra that would result from herd decrease. In fact, an increase in living standards with simultaneous maintenance of the traditional way of life has been declared to be the main aim of the IaNAO government--and this implies maintaining large herds. It is therefore not clear how this aim can be achieved without a further--and very significant--increase in the size of household herds.

Sector of Socioeconomic Research, Research Department, Arctic Research Center of the Iamal-Nenets Autonomous District 20 Respubliki Street 629001 Salekhard, Iamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region Russian Federation

(1) See Gary S. Becker, A Treatise on the Family (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981).

(2) E.g., Jeremy Greenwood, Nezih Guner, and Guillaume Vandenbroucke, "Family Economics Writ Large," Journal of Economic Literature 55, no. 4 (2017): 1346-1434; and Matthias Doepke and Michele Tertilt, "Families in Macroeconomics," in Handbook of Macroeconomics, ed. John B. Taylor and Harald Uhlig (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2016), 2:1789-1891.

(3) Angus Deaton, The Analysis of Household Surveys: A Microeconometric Approach to Development Policy (Washington, DC: World Bank, 1996).

(4) E.g., Richard R. Wilk, ed., The Household Economy: Reconsidering the Domestic Mode of Production (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989).

(5) Gudrun Dah and Anders Hjort, Having Herds: Pastoral Herd Growth and Household Economy (Stockholm: University of Stockholm, 1976).

(6) M. B. Perova and E. V. Perov, Slovar' terminov po sotsial'noi statistike,

(7) B. A. Reizberg, Sovremennyi sotsioekonomicheskii slovar' (Moscow: INFRA, 2012), 302-03.

(8) The definition is taken from page 1 of Federal Law N 104 "On the General Principles of Organizing Obshchinas of the Numerically Small Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far-East" (passed 20 July 2000). See Sobranie zakonodatel'stva RF, no. 30 (24 December 2000): 3122.

(9) See Florian Stammler, Reindeer Nomads Meet the Market: Culture, Property and Globalisation at the "End of the Land" (Munster: LIT, 2005); Anna Degteva and Christian Nellemann, "Nenets Migration in the Landscape: Impacts of Industrial Development in Yamal Peninsula, Russia," Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 3, no. 1 (2013): 15; Bruce C. Forbes, "Cultural Resilience of Social-ecological Systems in the Nenets and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrugs, Russia: A Focus on Reindeer Nomads of the Tundra," Ecology and Society 18, no. 4 (2013): 36.

(10) See A. A. Yuzhakov, "Izuchenie norm soderzhaniia pogolovia olenei dlia chastnogo sektora. Otchet po NIR," unpublished official report (Salekhard: Yamal experimental agricultultural station, Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Science, 2003). See alsoYuzhakov, in this volume.

(11) The term "private reindeer" is used to refer to animals owned by self-employed herders; "personal reindeer" are animals owned by employees of reindeer husbandry collective enterprises. See the articles by Konstantinov and Istomin in this volume.

(12) The concept famously introduced in Garrett Hardin, "The Tragedy of the Commons," Science 162, no. 3859 (1968): 1243-48.

(13) Most of the sociological and economic field data was collected by researchers from the Scientific Center for Arctic Research (Salekhard, Russia), S. M. Zuev, V. A. Kibenko, and also, in part, by E. A. Sukhova. Colleagues A. N. Terekhina and A. I. Volkovitskii from the Center of Arctic and Siberian Studies, Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Science also took part in collecting field data, and the author would like to acknowledge their contribution. The fieldwork trips were financially supported by the Department of Science and Innovation of the IaNAO, by the non-commercial partnership "Interregional Expedition Center 'Arctic,'" and by the Scientific Center for Arctic Research's own funds.

(14) See Stammler, Reindeer Nomads, 105-07, for an extended description of Reindeer Herders' Days in the IaNAO.

(15) S. M. Zuev, G. F. Detter, and K. G. Filant, "O razvitii izgorodnogo severnogo olenevodstva v Iamalo-Nenetskom avtonomnom okruge," Nauchnyi vestnik lamalo-Nenetskogo avtonomnogo okruga, no. 3 (100) (2018): 83-88.

(16) That is, the types of reindeer herding in which large herds of reindeer are raised specifically for slaughter and production in the form of meat, skins, blood, etc. (i.e., large-herd herding) and where reindeer are closely observed by their masters, who control their movement and grazing (i.e., intensive herding). See Igor Krupnik, Arctic Adaptations: Native Whalers and Reindeer Herders of Northern Eurasia (Chicago: Dartmouth College Press, 1993); and Hugh Beach, Reindeer-herd Management in Transition: The Case of Tuorpon Saameby in Northern Sweden (Uppsala: Upsaliensis Academiae, 1981) for an extended discussion of the concepts.

(17) For the structure and mechanisms of this economy, see Yulian Konstantinov, Conversations with Power: Soviet and Postsoviet Developments (Uppsala: Uppsala University, 2015).

(18) M. A. Zenko, Sovremennyi Iamal: Etnoekologicheskie i etnosotsial'nye problemy (Moscow: IEA, 2001), 8.

(19) Uchet pogolovia severnykh olenei po vsem kategoriiam khozaistv po IaNAO. This report was provided by the provincial division of the Federal State Statistical Service of Tiumen'; it gives reindeer statistics as of 1 January 2017.

(20) Informatsiia o chislennosti naselenia, vedushego kochevoi, polukochevoi ili osedlyi obraz zhizni V razreze natsionalnostei. Report by the administrations of Tazovskii, Priuralskii, and Iamalski Raions in 2018.

(21) The term "cattle complex" as introduced by Herskovits refers to the East African herders' desire for unlimited increase of their herds, which leads them to accumulate much bigger herds than they actually need and to slaughter fewer animals than they actually can. See Melville J. Herskovits, "The Cattle Complex in East Africa," American Anthropologist 28, no. 1 (1926): 230-72. It should be said, however, that the concept has been much criticized and is used here for illustrative purposes only.

(22) S. M. Zuev, V. A. Kibenko, and E. A. Sukhova, "Otchet po itogam zimnei ekspeditsii v Iamalskii Raion (pilotnyi anketnyi opros olenevodov)" unpublished MS (Salekhard: Scientific Center for Arctic Research, 2017), 23 (interview with a Nenets reindeer-herding family, Priuralskii Raion, winter 2017).

(23) Taped interview with a Selkup reindeer-herding family, Krasnoselkupskii Raions, upper part of Taz River basin, northern taiga zone, 2017. Private audio archive of the author.

(24) Zuev, Kibenko, and Sukhova, "Otchet po itogam zimnei ekspeditsii, 28 (interview with Nenets reindeer herders conducted at the "Ust-Iuribei" trading post, Iamalskii Raion, winter 2017).

(25) Ibid., 23 (interview with a Nenets reindeer-herding family, Priuralskii Raion, winter 2017).

(26) Taped interview with a Forest Nenets family, Purovskii Raion, Piaku-Pur River, northern taiga zone, 2016. Private audio archive of the author.

(27) S. M. Zuev, "Razrabotka obosnovannykh rekomendatsii po normam soderzhaniia olenei v lichnykh podsobnykh khoziaistvakh olenevodov v Iamalskom raione. Otchet po NIR. Deposited manuscript" (Salekhard: Scientific Center for Arctic Research, 2018), 19-23.

(28) Iuzhakov, "Izuchenie norm soderzhaniia."

(29) K. B. Klokov and S. A. Khrushev, Olenevodcheskoe khoziaistvo korennykh narodov Severa Rossii: Informatsionno-analiticheskii obzor (St. Petersburg: Sankt Petersburgskii gosudarstvennyi universitet, 2004), 1: 55.

(30) Dollar equivalents here and below are given according to the ruble/US dollar exchange rate valid for August 2019.

(31) Decision of IaNAO Administration no. 1214-P (issued 23 December 2016) "On the confirmation of the regional standard of minimum supply of material goods to persons leading a traditional way of life of the Indigenous Peoples of the North in the Iamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug" ("Ob utverzhdenii regional'nogo standarta minimal'noi material'noi obespechennosti lits vedushchikh traditsionnyi obraz zhizni korennykh malochislennykh narodov Severa v Iamalo-Nenetskom avtonomnom okruge"). Published in the newspaper Krasnyi Sever, special issue no. 107/2, 29 December 2016.

(32) In this raion, where trading posts are rare and inaccessible for most reindeer herders in summer, when traveling in the tundra is difficult, velvet antler traders play an important role as summer goods' suppliers. They bring necessary goods with them and sell these to herders, often paying for the velvet antlers with the goods.

(33) These changes have a lot in common with the famous "snowmobile revolution" among Scandinavian Saami as described and analyzed in Pertti J. Pelto's classic book The Snowmobile Revolution: Technology and Social Change in the Arctic (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland, 1987).

Caption: Figure 1. Three tundra raions of the Iamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug

Caption: Figure 2. Structure of reindeer herding monetary income in the three raions

Caption: Figure 3. Structures of reindeer herding monetary income relative to herd size

Caption: Figure 4. Structure of reindeer-herding household income in relation to size of herd
Table 1. Percentage of the territory rented by large reindeer-herding
enterprises in the three tundra raions

Raions           Area (in thousand       Rented out to large
                     hectares)            reindeer-herding
                                         enterprises in 2003

Tazovskii             17,434.4                 9,432.0
Iamalskii             14,872.7                 10,641.7
Priuralskii           6,599.1                  4,572.4
Total                 38,906.2                 24,646.0

Raions        Percentage of territory
                   rented by the

Tazovskii               54.1
Iamalskii               71.5
Priuralskii             69.2
Total                   63.4

Table 2. Reindeer ownership structure in the IaNAO

No    Form of           Type of           Number         Number
      property            owner          of owners     of reindeer
                                                        owned by
                                                      them by 1.01.

1    State-owned    Raion enterprises        5            54,871

2    Collective        Obshchinas            21          149,302
                   (clan communities)
                     of indigenous
                       peoples of
                        the North
                     cooperatives,           16          103,096

3      Private         Individual            1             687
       Private          Nomadic            3,347         457,616

Total reindeer herd (according to official               765,572

No    Form of        % in the total      % of the
      property          reindeer          form of
                      herd in the        property
                          okrug            as a
                                         whole in
                                         the total

1    State-owned          7.16              7.00

2    Collective           19.50            33.00

3      Private            59.86            60.00

Total reindeer herd        --              100.00
(according to official

Table 3. Carrying capacity of reindeer pastures in Tazovskii,
Iamalskii, and Priuralskii Raions

                Carrying capacity of       Total
                pasturelands, 2017-18    number of
Raion            Winter     Summer       reindeer
                                        pastured in

Tazovskii        3,250     205,000        274,114
Iamalskii        6,500     328,000        261,155
Priuralskii      43,000    115,000        134,723
Total for the    52,750    648,000        669,992
three raiony

                Divergence from carrying
                   capacity, 2017-18.

Raion            Winter     Summer

Tazovskii       -270,864   -69,114
Iamalskii       -254,655    66,845
Priuralskii     -91,723    -19,723
Total for the   -617,242   -21,992
three raiony

Table 4. Average number of reindeer harvested for
household consumption per year per raion

Number of    Average number of reindeer harvested for
household       own food and clothing
              Tazovskii    Iamalskii     Priuralskii

3-4             30            28            19
5-6             32            30            35
7-8             38            35            34
9 or more       42            38            31

Number of      Total     Average for
household                 the three
members                     raiony

3-4             77            26
5-6             97            32
7-8             107           36
9 or more       111           37

Table 5. Average size and structure of reindeer herding households in
the three raions

                Average number    Average number
                  of persons      of economically
Raion            per household        active
                                    persons per

Tazovskii            5.95               2.40
Iamalskii            6.33               2.61
Priuralskii          6.67               2.15
Total                18.95              7.16
Raion average        6.30               2.30

Raion           Average number    Average number
                  of elderly        of children

Tazovskii            1.30               2.71
Iamalskii            1.43               3.63
Priuralskii          1.53               3.14
Total                4.26               9.48
Raion average        1.40               3.10

Table 6. Monetary equivalent of reindeer meat produced and consumed
inside an average reindeer herding household

                    Number of harvested
                      reindeer                 Carcass weight *

                             60%       40%
                  Total    calves    adults    calves   adults

Average for         32       19        13        22       39
a household
consisting of 6
Monetary equivalent (in thousand roubles)

                  Average price of
                  a kilo of carcass

                  calves   adults

Average for        160       210
a household
consisting of 6
Monetary equivalent      174
(in thousand roubles)

* Given on the basis of carcass weighting performed by the Iuribei
Slaughtering-Refrigerating Complex in 2016-17 and the Paiuta
Slaughtering-Refrigerating Complex in 2017 as well as records of the
Sovkhoz Antipaiutinskii enterprise for 2015-16 and from the
data reported by private reindeer herders of Tazovskii Raion in 2018.

Table 7. "Ethnic goods" provided to reindeer-herding households by the
state and their price

                                           Number of
                                          items given        Given
                                        to a household      once in
Goods                     Quantity                         ... years

Fur covers for a        Set of 4 nuks          1               10
nomadic tent (winter
Wooden poles for a        One pole            45               10
nomadic tent
Processed leather          Sq. dm.            500              3
Raw leather                  Kg-              10               1
Tarpaulin                   Meter             100              2
Cloth (for summer           Meter             70               3
tent cover)
Iron stove                One stove            1               2
Kerosene lamp             One lamp             2               2
Glass shade for a         One shade           20               1
kerosene lamp
Wool cloth (sukno)          Meter             30               3
(for domestic needs)
Wooden planks (for      Cubic meters          1.5              5
tent floor and other
Electric generator      One generator          1               5
Fishing net               75 meter             2               2
Chain-saw (petrol)      One chain-saw          1               4
Medical set                One set             1               1
Pre-paid minutes for     200 minutes           1               1
satellite phone
communication (given
only if the
has a working
satellite phone)
Satellite phone           One phone            1             Once
                                                             a new
Petrol and               Amount that     Equivalent to         1
lubricants for          can be bought    7,000 rubles
generator                for 7,000
and chain-saw              rubles
Firewood                     --               --               --
Total per household per year (in thousand rubles)

Goods                      Total             year

Fur covers for a           130,000          13,000
nomadic tent (winter
Wooden poles for a          4,500             450
nomadic tent
Processed leather          10,000            3,300
Raw leather                 7,800            7,800
Tarpaulin                  24,000            2,400
Cloth (for summer          56,000           18,666
tent cover)
Iron stove                  6,370            3,185
Kerosene lamp               1,600             800
Glass shade for a           5,000            5,000
kerosene lamp
Wool cloth (sukno)          6,000            2,000
(for domestic needs)
Wooden planks (for         15,000            3,000
tent floor and other
Electric generator          6,000            1,200
Fishing net                20,000           10,000

Chain-saw (petrol)         15,000            3,750
Medical set                 2,000            2,000
Pre-paid minutes for       25,000             0 *
satellite phone
communication (given
only if the
has a working
satellite phone)
Satellite phone                               0 *
Petrol and                                   7,000
lubricants for
and chain-saw
Firewood                                      0 *
Total per household per year (in        83.5 ([dagger])
thousand rubles)

* In these calculations, the satellite phone and the pre-paid
minutes for it have not been taken into account, because many (in
fact most) households have lost their phones and thus have lost the
right to get the minutes. Likewise, information about firewood was
not included in the table, because it is given only to those
herders who winter in the northern part of the tundra, far away
from the forest, and even these herders often do not take the
firewood provided.

([dagger]) Calculations are made on the basis of tenders concluded
by the YNAO government for the period of 2016-17 (new tenders are
concluded each spring).

Table 8. Income calculation factors per raion

Factors                         Tazovskii   Iamalskii    Priuralskii

Percentage of harvested           45.0         31.0         65.0
meat of 1st quality category
Percentage of 2st category        55.0         69.0         35.0
1st category carcass              52.5         37.0         38.0
weight (mean)
2nd category carcass              32.0         36.0         37.0
weight *
Price of kg of meat, 1st          210.0       210.0         210.0
category (in rubles)
Price of kg of meat, 2nd          180.0       160.0         160.0
category (rubles)
Mean price of a kg of            1,250.0     1,074.0       2,026.0
velvet antlers
Mean price of a kg of             570.0       534.0        1,030.0
bone antlers

Factors                           Total     Mean for
                                            the three

Percentage of harvested           141.0        47.0
meat of 1st quality category
Percentage of 2st category        159.0        53.0
1st category carcass              127.5        42.5
weight (mean)
2nd category carcass              105.0        35.0
weight *
Price of kg of meat, 1st          630.0       210.0
category (in rubles)
Price of kg of meat, 2nd          500.0       167.0
category (rubles)
Mean price of a kg of            4,350.0     1,450.0
velvet antlers
Mean price of a kg of            2,134.0      711.0
bone antlers

* The slaughter data was provided by the Paiuta Complex (Priuralskii
Raion) in 2016, the Iuribei Complex (Iamalskii Raion) in 2016, and
the Sovkhoz Antipaiutinskii Raion enterprise in 2015.

Table 9. Mean income of households from meat and antlers per herd
size group (in thousand rubles)

            Reindeer harvested
              and sold           Velvet antlers

Herd size   Number   Income       Kg     Income

100           5        36         57       83
200           16      117         86      125
300           29      212        148      215
400           44      321        168      244
500           62      425        295      428
600           75      547        327      474
1000         123      897        443      642

              Bone antlers
Herd size     Kg     Income

100           65       46      165
200           93       66      308
300          172      122      549
400          190      135      700
500          175      124      977
600          288      205     1,226
1000         435      309     1,848

Table 10. Annual social transfers for an average six-member household

                                                     Months in a
               Monthly                Number         year during
Types of       total                  of people      which transfer
transfer       (rubles)               entitled       is paid

1                 Support to people leading a "traditional way of life"
"Nomadic              3,000                2               12
2                 Old age pension
Social                8,000                1               12
3                 Assistance to children
Aid for               1,329                1               12
a child
than three
Aid for                797                 1               12
a child
three and
Aid for                531                 1                3
a child
seven and
4              Compensation for inability to use a day care center
Compensation          3,500                2                9
day care
paid for
one and a
half and
Total (thousand rubles/USD)

                                      Annual total
Types of       Conditions of          (in thousand
transfer       payment                rubles)

1                 Support to people leading a "traditional way of life"
"Nomadic          Being a nomad           72.0
Social                                    96.0
Aid for            Having "poor           15.9
a child           family" status
than three
Aid for            Having "poor           9.6
a child           family" status
three and
Aid for            Having "poor           1.6
a child          family" status.
between            not paid for
seven and         the period the
sixteen         child at boarding
(eighteen)          school (1
4                day care center
Compensation      Being a nomad           63.0
of                 (not having
day care         access to a day
center            care center),
services,      paid for the period
paid for             1-Sep-31
children               May
one and a
half and
Total (thousand rubles/USD)             258/3.9

Table 11. Mean household income (in thousand rubles)

Number                      Monetary income
of reindeer
in             meat       velvet       bone      social
household                antlers     antlers   transfers
               income      income      income     income

100             36          83          46         258
300             212         215         122        258
500             425         428         124        258

Number           Natural income
of reindeer                           Annual
in                       reindeer     income
household     "ethnic    meat for       own
              goods"     consumption

               cost        cost

100            83.5         42           548.5
300            83.5         174         1,064.5
500            83.5         174         1,492.5

Table 12. Percentage of families working for enterprises per raion

                     Reindeer herding families
                      working for enterprises

                                      Number of
                     Number of        brigades
Raion                enterprises      in them

Iamalskii                  3               34
Tazovskii                  2               16
Priuralskii                3               12
Total                      8               62
Total percentage of families with employed members

                     Reindeer herding families working for enterprises

                     Number of families         Percentage of families
                     with employed members      with employed members
                     (usually only a core       in the total number
Raion                pair get salaries)         of  nomadic families

Iamalskii                      136                       13.9
Tazovskii                       74                       5.3
Priuralskii                     65                       8.7
Total                          275                       8.8
Total percentage of families with employed members       8.8
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Author:Zuev, Sergey
Publication:Region: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Jan 1, 2020
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