Nganasan - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The basic orientation of the economy is fishing, hunting, reindeer breeding, and animal raising (blue arctic fox). Almost all the men are trappers and fishermen. The polar fox industry produces the highest income, followed by the income from hunting wild reindeer at autumn fords. Fish, fur, and venison are sold to agents at government-fixed prices. Part of the venison and fish remains in the local economy and is sold in village stores. Aside from this, all the inhabitants catch fish and hunt, storing food for the family. The rest is sent to the towns of Dudinka, Noril'sk, and beyond the boundaries of the TAD. Furs reach the central governmental departments and are sold at annual international auctions. The population obtains local food products and industrial goods through village stores, where imported vegetables and fruits are also bought and sold. The state invests considerable sums to subsidize these goods; to construct dwellings, clinics, and schools; and to pay the expenses of students.

Industrial Arts. In village sewing shops and at home, Nganasan women produce such items for trade as cured reindeer hides, national-style footwear ornamented with fur inlay, cloth, beads, small souvenir rugs, and, often, fashionings from reindeer hide and stitched fur clothing.

Trade. In the village stores supplies are usually brought in during the spring on navigable rivers. Later in the year they are transported by air. In the course of the winter a traveling merchant visits distant hunters. The hunting sites are connected by radio.

Division of Labor. Traditionally, as today, hunting and reindeer breeding were male activities. All housework is the woman's responsibilty, including the labor-intensive sewing of the hunter's fur clothing. The work of the women, who often live with preschool children at the hunting site, is extremely demanding. In the villages today, however, husbands stoke the stove, prepare the fuel for it, and sometimes even cook if the wife is busy.

Land Tenure. The land of the village soviets belonged to the state, which assigned hunting and fishing territories and controlled the nomadic movements of the reindeer breeders—for the most part in accord with the traditional sites and routes of migration. Current reforms in Russia will undoubtedly result in radical changes.

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