BEFORE THEY - Yali people, One of the indigenous groups inhabiting the Baliem Valley region, in the midst of the Jayawijaya mountain range of Papua Indonesia, is the Yali ‘Lords of the Earth’. They live in the virgin forests of the highlands. The Yali are officially recognised as pygmies, with men standing at just 150 cm tall.
The nomadic Nenets, a group of reindeer herders, live in the extreme climate of Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula. Temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and rise to 95 degrees Fahrenheit during summer months.
Islam was brought to the ancestors of the Kazakhs in the 8th century. Most Kazakhs are Sunni Muslims, who more often than not continue to believe in pre-Islamic cults of the sky, the ancestors, fire and the supernatural forces of good and evil spirits, of giants and wood goblins.
No Arctic people that we know of have persisted for so long and so defiantly. Today, more than 10,000 nomads herd 300,000 domestic reindeer on the pastures of the Arctic tundra. After possibly thousands of years of existence, the Nenets now face perhaps their greatest challenge. Since the discovery of oil and gas reserves in the 1970s, the Nenets have had increasing contact with the outside world and the infrastructure on the Yamal Peninsula has been rapidly expanding.