Siberiaki - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities and Industrial Arts. Siberiaki historically relied on hunting and fishing to supplement meager agricultural yields of grain, potatoes, carrots, hemp, and beets. Animal husbandry was difficult but possible, with Siberia divided into horse and cattle zones or reindeer regions. Few Siberiak families attempted to herd reindeer, but some owned herds that they leased to natives; others domesticated a few Siberian elks ( marais. ) Many relied on trade with natives, transporting industrial goods and grain to remote settlements in return for furs, reindeer products, and fish. Along the trans-Siberian railway, Siberiaki, especially workers in gold mines, had more access to resources. Many made furniture, utensils, carts, boats, fishnets, and sleds. Specialized crafts included smithing and milling. In some northern regions, trade fairs were held only once a year at tax time. In Siberian cities and larger villages markets were common. Modern Siberian towns have state-run stores and weekly open markets. Villagers travel to these or rely on subsistence, informal barter, and minimal supplies from small state stores.

Division of Labor. Women traditionally baked bread, prepared food, tended animals, spun cloth, cleaned clothing in the river, and watched the children. When men were gone for weeks on hunting or trading trips, women assumed "male" activities (e.g., fishing). Women rarely worked in public-service jobs, such as constable or postman, but often were midwives and healers. With collectivization, many of these divisions remain, although women are now also educated bookkeepers, doctors, and teachers. Men are engineers, teachers, and tractor drivers. Both men and women do arduous agricultural work in southern Siberia.

Land Tenure. Historically, some land was leased or given to smallholders, whereas other land was reserved for government use, missions, and native priorities. Long-term leasing of native lands was illegal but common. In collectivized Siberia only small plots of land are owned for household use, but since 1989 arrangements with collective directors are making larger private farms possible. Some collectives give their workers resources to build ample, multiroom houses as an incentive to stay.

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