Lifestyle and Subsistence

The present land use of Enets still has some specific features of their traditional culture, but it quickly becomes a mixed one acquiring economic peculiarities of neighboring peoples, first of all the Russians and

Nenets. This influences all the branches of Enets economy: hunting, fishing, and reindeer herding. In the Yenisey valley, Enets began to plant kitchen gardens (mostly potatoes) and to breed cattle. However they continue to hunt and fish, and their diet is almost exclusively meat and fish, which they prefer raw. They are gradually getting accustomed to eating bread. Their traditional diet also includes berries (mostly cloudberries — Rubus chamaemorus) and wild onion and garlic (Allium ursinum), which are abundant in river valleys.

In the Enets economy, as for their ancestors, wild reindeer is the main animal hunted. Enets employ the method of hunting reindeer at water crossings, but to a lesser extent than Nganasans and Dolgans. Hunting with a domestic decoy-reindeer is also developed. The ancient techniques of wild reindeer hunting have now changed radically, with the use of firearms and motor boats.

The main fur animals hunted by Enets are Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) and ermine (Mustela erminea) in the tundra, and also sable (Mustela zibellina), squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), and moose (Alces alces) in the taiga. To hunt Arctic fox, Enets now use steel traps; ancient crushing wooden traps are no longer used. For hunting molting waterfowl, Enets widely use nets, sometimes bows and arrows, but usually guns.

Bows and arrows retained their importance for hunting squirrels and waterfowl up to the middle of the last century. In the 1940s and 1950s, there were times when the number of squirrels was high but hunters had few cartridges; then forest Enets and Kets hunted successfully with bows and arrows.

The lower reaches of Yenisey River and Yenisey Gulf are very rich in fish resources including many valuable species (sturgeon Acipenser baeri, sterlet A. ruthenus, and many species of whitefish: Stenodus leucychtis, Coregonus lavaretus, C. nasus, C. peled, C. autumnalis, C. muksun, C. sardinella a.o.). The main Enets method of fishing is with fixed (stationary) nets. They also use sweep-nets adopted from Russian fishermen. On small rivers, Enets partition off riverbeds in narrow places, placing special basketlike traps.

Domestic reindeer are used mostly for transportation, as pack and sledge animals. Enets kill domestic reindeer very rarely.

The tent (chum) of Enets resembles the Nganasan tent but differs from the Nenets one. In winter a chum is covered with reindeer skins, and in summer with canvas. At the center of the chum is an iron stove. Beginning from the 1930s, small wooden frame houses on sledges (balok) adopted from the Dolgans were used. These are covered by reindeer skins outside and by cotton inside. Enets living in settlements use wooden houses of a Russian type (izba).

Winter clothes and sleeping bags are made of reindeer skins and resemble the clothes of Nenets, Dolgans, and Nganasans. The most developed arts and crafts of the Enets are appliqués on cloth and fur and carving of mammoth bones, reindeer antlers, and wood.

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