- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
218

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
218
the fishermen and hunters when they are in want to
have a trader to fall back upon, from whom they can
get what is necessary, paying him when they can. But,
on the other hand, it is easy to understand that in this
way the people become entirely dependent on the trader,
and there is a temptation for him to take advantage
of their position. He obtains their skins and fish at a
price that is to some extent fixed by himself, and he
pays them in his goods, of which he also fixes the value.
It takes an honest man not to avail himself of the oppor
tunity of making a profit on both sides ; and no doubt
the result is that the fisherman and hunter often do
not get what they ought for their catch. If liquor be
added as an auxiliary on the side of the trader, the con
ditions are made even more unequal.
There were now assembled at Sumarokova most of the
Yenisei-Ostiaks that are to be found in this neighbour
hood. There might have been about a couple of hundred
of them in the boats here. I was told that the whole
tribe of Yenisei-Ostiaks numbered about 700 in all, but
Donner writes to me that the total should be about 900,
and that is probably more correct. They live along the
Yenisei and its tributaries northward, from this district
here to some distance beyond Turukhansk. But it is
rapidly dying out, this race.
As I have said, not very long ago they must have
been spread over great tracts of Asia and were divided
into several tribes. Of one of these, the Kottes, Castrén,
before the middle of last century found only five men left,
who lived on the Agul, a tributary of the Kan, which
flows into the Yenisei.* Other kindred tribes had at
that time entirely disappeared, or had been absorbed
* The last of the Kottes who spoke his own language died only
about six years ago, as Mr. Kai Donner tells me he discovered when
travelling in the district of the Kan.

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