March 1993, Salekhard. Festival of the peoples of the North of the YNAO, organized by the Committee of the Peoples of the North of the YNAO administration (head of the committee, S. Kharyuchi) and the Association “Yamal to Our Descendants!” (vice-president Kh.M. Ezynghi) with the participation of the State Committee of the North of the Russian Federation (headed by A. Evai). The main sponsor of the festival was Gazprom and the immediate sponsor Nadymgazprom (Director General V.V. Remizov). Invited were the managers of construction and oil and gas producing enterprises not only from the YNAO but also from other regions of Russia. After these festivals the relations between the indigenous people living in the areas where oil and gas companies are operating and the residents of industrial cities of the Okrug improved. Agreements on mutually advantageous partnership relations with state farms and hatcheries were made. The company Gazprom is constructing facilities for the processing of traditional products (the collective farm Baydaratskiy), and negotiations on the construction of a pipeline to the YNAO capital Salekhard were started. On the initiative of the regional branches of the Okrug Association “Yamal to Our Descendants!” oil and gas companies allocate to reindeer herders and fishermen snowmobiles, outboard motors, boats, cloth, beads, tarpaulins, Russian leather, tinned goods, and boarding school supplies. Musical instruments are distributed to cultural centers in rural areas.
Expected at festivals of reindeer herders and fishermen are the managers of oil and gas companies, the administration of industrial cities, and commercial companies. Today, in accordance with the old tradition, guests of the festivals come with gifts.
March 1992, Yarudei station, Nadym Region. The Conference of Reindeer Herders of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: “Reindeer Herders – Preservation and Development of the Major Livelihood of the Peoples of the North”. In addition to other issues the problem of interactions of the traditional livelihood with modern development was brought up. The main sponsor of the conference was Nadymgazprom. During this conference, in a talk with S.N. Kharyuchi, V.V. Remizov, V.D. Arteev, Kh.М. Ezynghi, S.P. Yar, and A.I. Kuzin, a proposal was about organizing a reindeer herders’ meeting in the city of Nadym.
February 1995, city of Nadym. The competitions of reindeer herders in ethnic sports. When we were preparing for the competitions, they predicted all kinds of results, particularly negative ones. But time has shown that the Association “Yamal to Our Descendants!”, the Committee for the Peoples of the North of the YNAO Administration, and the management of the Nadymgazprom company to be right. 2005 will see the tenth annual competitions. Such activities have also been repeatedly conducted in other big industrial cities of the Okrug.
Conservation of the environment and meeting environmental protection standards in the Okrug today are far from comparable with those ten years ago, thanks to technological advances. For instance, the geophysical investigations of the Yamalgeofizika company used to involve drilling and explosives, but nowadays they have started to use the environmentally safe Sonic Impulse Response Method.
The construction of the Obskaya – Bovanenkov railway in its time was heatedly discussed by everybody, including non-specialists. According to the proposal of the Association “Yamal to Our Descendants!” reindeer herders of three state farms of the Yamal area were invited to the railway construction site, where the tundra residents saw with their own eyes that railway is the most environmentally safe compared with other means of transport. The reindeer herders analysed all pros and cons and came to the conclusion that:
the railway is indispensable for the development of Yamal oil and gas fields;
the need for the railway will last for at least 50 years;
the railway will offer good prospects for the tundra and migratory population, who will receive wood, food and medical aid, while traditional products can be transported from the area to markets elsewhere.
What decided it for the reindeer herders was that they saw the railway with their own eyes. The railway seemed to have been dropped from above and it eliminated the need to travel through the tundra. The resolution of the reindeer herders’ assembly was to allow the construction of the road to the Bovanenkovskoe field. It is noteworthy that no tundra resident objected to the extraction of oil and gas. The people have one demand: development should not stand in the way of our traditional lifestyle and reindeer herding, fishing and hunting must be protected. The implementation of nondestructive technologies by the oil companies instills hope for the preservation of the traditional lifestyle.