- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
90

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
nomadic life on the tundra is not created in a day, nor
in years, nor in centuries, but can only be the result
of a slow development generation after generation
through many centuries, not to say millenniums. A
nation in flight northward from the Altai, reaching
the tundra without any preparation, would necessarily
perish by famine, unless they there found another
people, which already possessed a culture adapted
to the tundra, and were able to subdue this people
and acquire its culture. To point only to one thing
—in order to live as nomads on the tundra, they
must have learnt to tame reindeer and to use them as
domestic animals. This is not a thing that people
can take to all at once ; a long period of development
must lic behind a special nomadic culture such as this.
In addition to this, we are told that the old Samoyede
tribes of the Altai were not a pastoral people, but
hunters and fishers, so that the whole nomadic culture
with domesticated animals was foreign to them. For
that matter wc know even to-day of Samoyede peoples
who live just in this way, by hunting and fishing, and
do not keep reindeer ; and many of the Ostiak-
Samoyedes in the forests between the Obi and Yenisei
live in this way and use dogs as draught animals.
I am inclined to think that these and many other
theories of the sudden and long migrations of whole
peoples have their origin to a great extent in the
current view of the period of great migrations in
Europe, as there is a tendency to move whole nations
from east to west and from south to north, as one
moves pieces on a chessboard. This may pass in the
case of warrior hordes, who advance over peopled
regions, ravaging as they go ; but when it is a question
of penetrating from the south to the north into the
desolate tundra, where the newly arrived people must
90

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