March 26, 2018
Todd and his counterpart in Russia, Yan, have arranged for us to have two virtual visits with people from the Nenets region of Russia. The first visit involved quite a few people. At Samish, several Tribal council members were there, as well as the delegates and people from the Department of Natural Resources, Chelangen, and others. People attending on the Nenets side included the Nenets, as well as Yan, the interpreter and various local government officials. I had worn my shawl and and headband, as had some of the other women. We also had clappers and drums there. One of the first things we noticed is that the native outfits the Nenets were wearing were very similar ours, with lots of red. They also had drums with them. Pictures I have seen show that their traditional dwellings are hide covered, pole supported tents that look very much like teepees. At the beginning Kelly said a prayer in Samish, and then we sang a song. People introduced themselves and made little speeches. At the end, we got up and sang again, but this time the Nenets delegates stood up and started singing and drumming with us. It was very cool.
At the second virtual meeting, only the delegates from both countries and Todd and Yan attended. We were able to chat a little a little. Toby related the story about how his grandfather had been punished for speaking Samish when he was at boarding school, and we talked about how countless acts of that nature had contributed to the near-loss of the Samish language. They then told us that the Nenets had a similar experience of having to speak Russian when they came onto the villages from the herds. So I guess the same tactics were used all over the world.
It is going to be really interesting to learn more about their language, religious practices and culture.