13th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Tsaatan Woman and Reindeer

“My life is like ortz. I move a lot every year.” Saintsetseg Jambaldorj (49), a member of the Tsaatan ethnic minority, describes her life. Ortz are the teepee-like tents which Tsaatan people use as homes. The Tsaatan ethnic minority are one of the last remaining groups of nomadic reindeer herders in Mongolia, and have been maintaining their traditions for thousands of years. They seasonally migrate within the forests of the Taiga according to weather and food conditions for their reindeer, which they depend on for milk and transportation. They face challenges to their traditional way of life, with recently introduced laws aimed at conservation limiting their ability to hunt wild animals for food, and climate change affecting their habitat and possibly exposing reindeer to disease. Previously self-supporting, they now are partly dependent on government handouts and tourism to enable them to buy meat and other supplies.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 09.2015
Date Uploaded: 11.2015
Photo Location: Khovsgol province, Mongolia
Camera: NIKON D800
Copyright: © Madoka Ikegami