Nenets Autonomous Area (nyĕˈnyĭts) [key], administrative division (1990 est. pop. 55,000), 68,224 sq mi (176,700 sq km), extreme NE European Russia. Formed in 1929, the area forms the northern part of Arkhangelsk oblast and extends along the tundra coast of the Barents, White, and Kara seas. Naryan-Mar, the capital, is a lumber port on the Pechora River. The area includes the northern section of the Pechora coal basin, with mines at Khalmer-Yu and along the Silova River. Until the discovery of oil and gas fields, reindeer raising, fishing, fur trapping, and seal hunting were the chief occupations. Fish canning, sawmilling, and hide processing are also important to the area. Many of the formerly nomadic Nenets live in agricultural settlements. Russians make up a majority (66%) of the population, while the Nenets have shrunk to 12% of the population. The Nenets, previously known as Samoyedes, speak a Finno-Ugric language and are either Orthodox Christians or animists. They were first mentioned in the 11th cent., and became tributaries of the grand duchy of Moscow at the end of the 15th cent. In 1977 the area's political status was changed from a national area to an autonomous area. In the 1990s there have been demands for an increase in the area's share of oil royalties, as well as talk of secession from the oblast.