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Samoyed (people)

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The Samoyeds or Nentsi were a nomadic people who moved (probably from farther south in Siberia) to the northernmost part of Russia when other peoples moved into their original territory (before the 12th century A.D.). They ended up between the Kanin and Taymir peninsulas, around the Ob' and Yenisey rivers, with some of them settling into small communities and taking up farming, while others continued hunting and reindeer herding. They bred the Samoyed dog to help herd their reindeer and pull their sleds, and European explorers later used those dogs for polar expeditions, because they are so well adapted to the purpose.

The five Samoyed languages are the minor branch of the Uralic language family, the major branch being the Finno-Ugric languages. When the land of the Samoyeds became part of the Soviet Union in the first quarter of the 20th century, the government tried to force the nomadic Samoyeds to settle down, and most of them were assimilated. The ones who are left are generally called the Nenetsky people now.

Samoyed means "self-eater" in Russian.



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