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There are a great many northern peoples: Eskimos, Samoyedes, Yakuts, Kuryaks, etc. And they all have one thing in common: the far north with its vast snowy wastelands, a wilderness of whiteness where the petrifying cold penetrates to the marrow of man's bones. Gathered around the fire, source of life, protected from the elements by ice and animal skins, the peoples of the great north bring pleasure into their bleak existence by using what meagre sustenance they find in nature.
Tales and histories inspire the imagination of these peoples during the long winter evenings, giving rise to a little-known culture, that of men for whom day is often night. The distinctive identity passed on to us so vividly by the peoples of the great north is gradually disappearing, particularly in the mad rush to colonize northern Siberia and in the frenzied search for wealth beneath the earth.
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Valentina Gorbacheva and Marina Fedorova are researchers at the Ethnographic Museum, St. Petersburg. Academicians of some celebrity, they have participated in many expeditions in Siberia.
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