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Tsaatan: The Reindeer People


Tsaatan: The Reindeer People




The northern Mongolia and Russia border


Jatenipat Ketpradit (JKBoy)

Finally, in the midst of snow, in the thick of the pine forest, delicate regions, and the border between Mongolia and Russia, I had the opportunity to meet "Tsaatan", an autonomous nomad tribe with a thousand-year-old mythology.

Tsaatan, or reindeer aborigines, dwell in the forests near the northern Mongolia-Russia border. Reindeer bind their lives together. Their civilization is a hybrid of human and animal cultures. They may live off reindeer milk, horn, body, and skin. They always travel to explore new pastures for reindeer as the seasons change.

Tsaatan believe that their ancestors' souls are ensconced in the forest as animals that advise tribal members on how to survive. As a result, they cherish and protect nature.

Even now, this tribe has around 44 families remaining since the number of reindeer has decreased and cross-border transit has grown increasingly difficult. Their lives and culture, however, have not changed. Their way of life and customs are still alive and well, passed down from generation to generation. The pine forest is like their home, and it is still protected by the new generation from outsiders. The story of Tsaatan will be told alongside the sound of reindeer.

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