Israeli team journeys into Siberia to preserve histories of remote tribes

A delegation of the Israeli MyHeritage company recently returned from a monthlong stay with the remote Nenets tribe, an indigenous people of the Siberian arctic.

The journey was part of a Tribal Quest Expedition project, which sees MyHeritage members documenting the stories of the people they meet as a continuation of its mission “to preserve the family histories of remote tribes.”

“People living in remote locations with limited access to modern technology don’t have the tools to digitize their rich family histories, and they are often left unrecorded,” the Tribal Quest web page states. Seeking to expand the database of such stories, their teams will visit tribal communities around the world to ensure future generations know exactly where they came from.

Thus far, delegations have visited Namibia, Papua New Guinea and most recently the Yamal-Nenets region of northwest Siberia. Yamal means “the edge of the world,” in the language of its indigenous inhabitants.

The Nenets people are a nomadic tribe of reindeer herders, the animal permeating all aspects of their lives; they use their fur for clothing and tents, eat reindeer meat as their staple food, sell them for money and sacrifice them to the gods of their ancient animistic religion. Reindeer also pull Nenets people on the wooden sledges they use to migrate to new reindeer grazing grounds.

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