- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
219

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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VERKHNE-IMBÅTSKOYE TO SUMAROKOVA
219
in the Turks and Tatars. Castrén thinks that in his
time there were scarcely 1000 of the Yenisei-Ostiaks liable
to pay taxes, so that with women and children there
would be perhaps three times that number ; but it is not
easy to say how accurate Castrén’s figures are. Accord
ing to Sidorov’s information, the public books gave the
numbers of Ostiaks in the Turukhansk district in 1862
as 888 men and 716 women ; but whether these Ostiaks
are all Yenisei-Ostiaks, or whether some ordinary
Finnish Ostiaks are included, I have not been able to
find out. And now they have dwindled down to about
900 in all. It can be understood that such a people
may easily die out, living in such close contact with
the Russian colonists and leading such an uncertain
existence, entirely dependent on fishing and hunting.
When wc came aboard there was much talk of what
wc should do next morning. Should wc start at 4 a.m.,
as the pilot wanted to do, so as to pass the Osinovski
rapids in daylight, or should wc sacrifice three hours in
order to see a little of these Ostiaks in a sober state ?
It was no doubt the last opportunity wc should have of
seeing any of this dying race. The choice was a difficult
one ; it was important to reach Krasnoyarsk in time,
and the rapids could not be passed in darkness. Wc
decided to wait, nevertheless ; but Nature made the
choice easier for us. At five in the morning, when wc
were to have got up and gone ashore to see if any of the
natives were about, there was such a thick fog that wc
could not even see the bank off which wc lay, and there
was no question of leaving here just yet.
Wc turned in again and went ashore at about seven
when wc could hear signs of life beginning on the beach.
Fires had been lighted on the shore near several of the
boats, and each family was making tea and cooking break
fast ; more and more people were beginning toturn out and

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