Life on Arctic’s Edge

For millennia, the reindeer herding Nenets of the Russian Arctic have been an incredibly resilient indigenous group and continue the largest migration on the planet, despite accelerating climate change and sprawling infrastructure from the boom in oil and gas production.

Featuring: Evgenia Arbugaeva

Presented by

National Geographic

Curated by

Kurt Mutchler, Senior Editor, Science

For millennia, the reindeer herding Nenets have been an inextricable part of the landscape of the Yamal (“The End of the Earth” in their language) in the Russian Arctic. According to many scientists, they have been incredibly resilient. They have weathered many environmental and social changes, from swings of the climatic pendulum between warming and cooling periods, to periodic social upheavals coming from the rule of Russian Tsars, the Communist dictatorship, and the chaos of Soviet collapse. Through it all, the Nenets managed to adapt in a way that has kept their culture not just alive, but thriving. Their resiliency arises in large part from their ability to continue annual reindeer migration over hundreds of miles from the southern winter pastures to the summer northern pastures by the coast. But new significant pressures have arrived to their homeland in the form of a boom in gas and oil production and accelerating climate change. — Gleb Raygorodetsky


Evgenia Arbugaeva was born in 1985 in the town of Tiksi, located in the Russian Arctic. In her personal work, she often looks to her Arctic homeland, discovering and capturing remote worlds and the people who inhabit them.

Arbugaeva has been a winner of various competitions. She is a recipient of the ICP Infinity Award 2015, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, and the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund Grant, and was selected as one of PDN’s “30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch.” Her work has been exhibited internationally and appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, Le Monde, and National Geographic, among others.


Established in 1888, National Geographic is a trusted print and digital publication offering stories that illuminate, inspire, and reveal. Our mission is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultures, the sciences, and the natural world. We advance that mission by creating visually stunning, richly reported photojournalism and distinguished, impartial coverage of the globe’s most pressing issues. National Geographic publishes in 33 languages, reaching print subscribers in 75 countries. It has the largest social media following of any magazine, and its digital and social media serve more than 350 million monthly viewers around the world.

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