Maaväci, «people of the land», one of the names of vaddjalain or vod’, the entire nationality which inhabited the land between lake Chudskoe and the Finnish Gulf on the territory of modern Russia. One of the oldest indigenous peoples of Russia right now is only 15 old men and women living in two small villages in the district of Ust-Luga. During the World War II they were departed from their own land to Finland, after a year of staying in this country, they were allowed to come back, but since that moment they had to live in far districts of Russia, instead of Ust-Luga. They came back to their villages only after the death of Stalin, being forced to keep their origin and language secret, as soon as almost everybody considered them to be «public enemies».
But vod’ manage to save their culture, and at the beginning of the 21 century started to talk, take part in linguist investigations and communicate with ethnographers. Mostly because of the big federal port was going to appear in one kilometer form their houses and a lot of illegal forest coupes started around the village, and the only way to stop it was to make it public. Activists organized two museums of vaddja culture, one after another, with old vaddja houseware things and albums of early 20th century photographs of their mothers, fathers, grandparents and other relatives, people who died many years ago. But both of these museums were burned after the village started to complain and ask for help. Right now these people still afraid to name their nationality, being sure the government can change and they can be departed again.
In Romanova’s portraits vaddja people pose on white background like their parents did on portraits destroyed by fire, with today’s background that surrounds them now. In their hands — last houseware things left from their parents — special vaddja fishing and agriculture equipment, mittens with unique patterns, portrait of mother and father, — everything that reminds them to whom they belong. The port is growing, and all the village will be send to another district, away from the Land they belong to.