- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
216

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
disappearing tribe along the Yenisei and some of its
tributaries, where they eke out a wretched existence by
doubtful and uncertain hunting and fishing, which more
over are declining every year. Thus, one of their former
great sources of income, the sable, is now almost extinct,
and the Russian Government will soon entirely pro
hibit its being caught. The Yenisei-Ostiaks complained
bitterly of this, as may be imagined, since it means
taking away their livelihood. True, there are not many
for them to catch, but one or two might be picked up
in the course of a winter, and a little animal like that
pays a lot of debts. How were they going to pay them
now ? A people doomed to perish.
In his interesting book on the northern parts of
Russia, Sidorov expressed the opinion that the decline
of the various native races, and the famine among them,
date from after 1805, when the granaries were started
in Siberia, and the natives learned to appreciate bread.
Before that time they only ate meat and fish, and were
not badly off, he thought. There may be something
in that ; their wants have increased, but not their
incomes. Otherwise there was, perhaps, at least as
much truth in what the trader we were talking to here
said about liquor håving so much to do with the decline
of these natives. Along with diseases that are com
municated to them, especially venereal diseases and
epidemics, liquor is no doubt their worst enemy.
The Government, undoubtedly with the best in
tentions, has prohibited the sale of liquor to the natives
in the whole of the Turukhansk district. But what is
the use of that, if the prohibition cannot be enforced ?
Nay, a prohibition of this sort may even have the oppo
site effect ; it makes liquor a disproportionately valuable
article, when it cannot be sold legally ; and the tempta
tion may then be too great to use it for obtaining great
216

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