Methods proven over the centuries: what do the aboriginal do to warm up in a severe frost?

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There is severe frost in Yamal. Many northerners try not to go outside without a strong need and prefer to stay inside their warm flats. But what do indigenous people do in such cold days? They usually spend a lot of time in the open air. And their housing is normally located in the tundra. Evgeniya Chetvertak, a reporter of, will tell us how Yamal’s aboriginal population warms up.

Maintaining a hearth in a chum is a woman’s responsibility. There is nothing better than to get inside a warm dwelling after hard work in the cold tundra. They always maintain an indoor temperature here.  The chum does not get cold even at night, when no one adds more wood into the stove.  To heat up the whole dwelling after a week-long absence one needs to heat up the stove only once. All these is thanks to a special structure of reindeer hides that cover nomads’ housing.

“The structure of a hair is tubular, hollow. So it keeps the warmth, accumulates it. It gets warm itself and does not let the warmth out,” says Lev Puyko, a reindeer herder.

To cover one chum they need 120 reindeer hides. Half of them are sewn with hair inside, and half of them - with hair outside. Then these hides are used to cover 32 poles. It is not easy to find and prepare such wooden poles in a bare tundra.

“We go to Khodato-Yakha forest, take poles there and put them in final condition ourselves. Now they also give you chum poles if you have necessary documents,” says Nikolay Khudi, a reindeer herder. 

A special diet of northern nomads also helps them to warm up quickly and restore the energy. For centuries, fresh fish and meat have been satisfying hunger and providing vitamins to tundra people, so that they could survive in harsh conditions. But there are no special secret dishes to get warm after coming from outside.  Everything is very simple.

“The best things to warm up are hot tea, hot broth or soup, hot fish soup. We’ve got various food. Stroganina (raw whitefish) is fat. It can be different of course. But now we have a big fish. It is fat and tasty,” says Nadezhda Khudi, a reindeer herder’s daughter. 

Northern nomads have not only been surviving in severe frost for centuries, they have been living a wonderful life in their special world. Their main wealth is the reindeer. It gives them food, transport, clothing, housing and it is the main source of their income. And their wisdom accumulated over the centuries has been helping tundra people up to this day.

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Государственный интернет-канал «Россия» 2001 - 2023. Свидетельство о регистрации СМИ Эл № ФС 77-59166 от 22 августа 2014 года, выдано Федеральной службой по надзору за соблюдением законодательства в сфере массовых коммуникаций и охране культурного наследия.

Учредитель – Федеральное государственное унитарное предприятие «Всероссийская государственная телевизионная и радиовещательная компания». Главный редактор Панина Елена Валерьевна. Редактор ГТРК «Ямал» Косачёва Ирина Макаровна.