When Rain Fell in Winter, A First Person Account

A decade ago, heavy winter rains washed over the Yamal Peninsula in Northwest Russia, killing 60,000 reindeer and ruining livelihoods. Philip Burgess and Irina Wang have created a StoryMap that tells the story of Tokcha Khudi. Tokcha is a Nenets reindeer herder who, along with his family, has herded reindeer across the tundra of the Yamal peninsula his entire life — just as his ancestors have done for centuries.

A deadly icing event in the winter of 2013 killed as many as 60,000 reindeer. Tokcha’s herd was impacted significantly, but he and his family were able to avoid the worst consequences thanks to a combination of knowledge, skills, and luck.

Philip and Irina went through published papers, and were assisted immensely by both Florian Stammler and Roza Laptander, who provided advice, images and sound. Early this year, we also sat in on a phone interview between Florian and Tokcha by phone and spoke to one of his sons, Andrei while they were on migration, getting ready to cross the Ob Bay. Another of Tokcha’s sons, Vladimir kindly sent personal photos to build out this story. This StoryMap is now live to view and will be incorporated into an exhibit on extreme winter weather events in the Arctic at the Arktikum Science Centre towards the end of the year.

Philip is based in Rovaniemi and has been working on aspects of this planned exhibit for the CHARTER project and the Arctic Rain on Snow project. Irina is a visiting Fulbright scholar working on
“Co-Designed Artefacts: Visualizing Indigenous Perspectives on Arctic Climate Change” with  Aalto University’s NODUS Sustainable Design  Research Group and University of Lapland’s Arctic  Centre.

The StoryMap was launched at last weeks Arctic Policy Briefing held in Brussels last week and you can now launch the StoryMap here!

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