Iedvokim, Fisherman
November 1997

Expedition Log


The date is 8 November 1997. Only a few days remain before the long polar night descends on the Great North.


Iedvokim Portnov will leave his fishing station and return home. Home means another hut where his wife and children live, among them the newest addition to his family, born in his absence. Isolation takes on a completely new dimension in this place, just above the village of Syndaska. At 73º North, across from Beguitchev Island, we’re somewhere north of the Khatanga Gulf.

A Dolgan who works in the Khatanga administration has recommended that I seek out this fisherman as it is rumored that he came upon many mammoth remains during the summer, not far from his home. I will stay and speak with him and his fishing companion Nikolai for ten days or so.

The temperature outside hovers around -35ºC and the nights are long, perhaps 20 hours.

I find Iedvokim a very gentle and intelligent man. He keeps stored in his memory the contemporary history of the Dolgans and he tells me how he withdrew from the communists a decade ago.