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Enets people

Not to be confused with Nenets people.

The Enets people (Russian: энцы, entsy; singular: энец, enets), or Yenetses, Entsy, Entsi, Yenisei, Yenisei-Samoyed, Yenisey Samoyeds or Yeniseian people are a traditionally nomadic people who live on the east bank, near the mouth, of the Yenisei River. Many live in the village of Potapovo in Krasnoyarsk Krai in western Siberia near the arctic circle. According to the 2002 Census, there are 237 Enets. In Ukraine, there were 26 Entsi in 2001, of whom 18 were capable of speaking the language.

The Enets language is a Samoyedic language, formerly known as Yenisei Samoyedic (not to be confused with the Yeniseian language family, which is completely unrelated). They still speak their language, but education is in Russian so there is fear they may lose their language.

Current situation

British travel writer Colin Thubron visited the town of Potapovo in the late 1990s and found the Entsi deculturated and demoralized, beset with problems of alcoholism. The reindeer collective established in Nikita Khrushchev's day had been severely impacted by acid rain from the nickel smelters at Norilsk. A fur farm which raises fox was similarly diminished. About half the population was unemployed with a few employed in reindeer herding on the west side of the river, the remainder living by fishing in the Yenisei River. Fisherman from Potapovo sometimes catch red sturgeon and Omul, a type of salmon, as well as char, gang fish, and northern pike. Thubron mentions a salted muksun fish product (muksun is a type of fish, like salmon).

Some social services continue to be provided by the Russian government: a small hospital, with a doctor and a few nurses; schools (although older children must attend in Dudinka to the north); and small Russian government pensions. The electric plant had recently burned and electricity was provided intermittently by a generator. Life expectancy is 45 with many dying violent deaths due to family violence and fighting.

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