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36°C below zero

Although their world now also incorporates some modern items such as phones, generators, and snowmobiles, their way of life remains pure and in many ways far richer, more meaningful than ours. Its head facing east, the animal’s eyes bulge out and its tongue hangs limply to one side as the rope around its neck, pulled by three broad-shouldered herders, squeezes the remaining life out of it. Slowly its resistance weakens, its eyes are fixed on a point in the gray Arctic sky above, then suddenly, complete stillness. For centuries, the Nenets of Siberia have been living off reindeer meat and blood, utilizing every inch of the animal from hide to heart, to bone and antlers even—nothing is ever wasted. Every so often, when the tribe needs meat, this sacred ritual as old as time begins anew. A reindeer is carefully selected from the herd and strangled in this traditional manner, its head always facing east. EPIC MIGRATIONS AND AGE-OLD RITUALS  As soon as the animal is dead, the hide is meticulously removed and kept in one piece to be used for clothing. Then the feasting begins and everyone starts to tear out pieces of kidney, liver, heart, or whatever parts they most enjoy, occasionally dipping and swirling the bits in the open carcass, which still holds the reindeer’s warm blood. A small saucepan containing blood is …

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