Title: Reindeer Herders 209

Key Words: Nomadic herder, Siberia, reindeer

National Standard: 11 (Patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface)

State Standard: 13 (Impact of human systems on Earth's surface)

Teaching Level: Middle School

Introduction: Russia's resources are many and its people diverse- largely because of Russia's size.
Expansive climate and vegetation zones make development difficult; some groups, however have adapted. The Nentsey are a group of nomadic herders whose lifestyle is being threatened by the development of the coal and oil reserves in their region. Their cultural and economic survival depends on their herds of reindeer and the environment needed by the reindeer. In this lesson students will gather data about nomadic herders, their region, their dependence on reindeer, and the conflicts over the mining and drilling for coal and natural gas.

Objective: Students will gather and interpret data from various sources about the threats to the lifestyle of the nomadic herders of Siberia.

Materials: National Geographic magazine, March 1990.
International Wildlife magazine, May/June 1994, pages 4-11.
Several maps of Russia that show topography, climate regions, vegetation regions, economic activity, natural resources, and population density.
Handout: Develop an Argument

Procedure: Show pictures from the article in the March 1990 issue of National Geographic and the May/June 1994 issue of International Wildlife that feature nomadic herders from the same region of Siberia. Elicit responses.

Study the maps of Russia in order to describe the region between the Ob River and the Yamal Peninsula the Kara Sea, and the Arctic Circle. Use maps of economic activity and natural resources. population density, climate regions, and vegetation regions to describe the region. Direct students to make connections between population density, climate regions, and economic activity.

Assign students to small groups to develop an argument from two perspectives. Allow students to share their arguments and draw conclusions.

Distribute the handout Develop an Argument so students can organize their arguments.

Draw conclusions. Some examples are: Nomadic herders are minority groups in danger of cultural extinction.

There is a conflict between the nomadic herders and the Russian government about the development of mining and drilling in their traditional lands.
The reindeer are crucial to the survival of the nomadic herders.

If their habitat is destroyed, the nomadic herders will have their way of life changed dramatically.

Russia needs to increase its supplies of fuel in order to achieve economic growth and meet the needs of a growing population.

If the young Nenets or Nentsey are lured away from their nomadic lifestyle, it will be a matter of time before their culture suffers, even if the reindeer are still present in their traditional land.

Evaluation/Assessment: Write a sample letter to the Russian government explaining ways to address the present and the future needs of the nomadic herders.

Make a list that shows the forces working against the lifestyle of the nomadic herders.

Extension/Enrichment: Compare three groups: The People of the Caribou in Canada, the nomadic reindeer herders of Siberia, the buffalo hunting Plains Indians of North America.

Write a poem expressing the fears and concerns of the older members of the nomadic herder culture. Illustrate a scene that reflects the ideas or images of the poem.

Write an essay about the price of progress.

Express your ideas about whether or not the White Mountains of New Hampshire should be explored again to look for deposits of minerals useful to industry. Be specific about the effects on the region should commercial amounts be discovered.
Reflection:
How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please not any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments.

Handout: Develop an Argument

Recently natural gas and coal deposits have been found in the Arctic Circle near the Kara Sea and the Yamal Peninsula. List five questions that should be raised by this fact.

Helpful question starters are:
What will happen when...
Will the drilling affect...
How will they transport the...
How will the nomadic people...
Will the noise and vibration...
Is there a plan for...


Read the following paragraph, think about what you have read, and then develop an argument for each side of the issue.

The Nentsey, people who follow the reindeer in the region between the mouth of the Ob River and the Kara Sea, do not want their geographic area and lifestyle disturbed. They live a nomadic lifestyle dependent on the reindeer. Development of the natural gas and coal might bring drastic change to their lifestyle. They fear the reindeer's habitat is at risk, and that their young will be lured away from their traditional lifestyle to work for the mining and drilling companies, or move to the cities once they become aware of the conveniences and potential benefits of an easier lifestyle.

Side A Argument: Natural gas and coal should be taken from this region because it will benefit the economy of Russia.

Side B Argument: Natural gas and coal should not be taken from this region because it will have drastic effects on the nomadic people.


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