The local apparatchik had no specific orders, but he regarded it as his duty to civilize and Russify the pastoralists and herders under his authority. To that end, he ordered the confiscation of an item venerated by many of the Siberian native peoples in that remote oblast: a large meteorite of indeterminate age. The natives had long used it as a source of meteoric iron for speartips and other implements, but also ascribed a religious agency to the great hunk of metal. Tools made with it were always carefully guarded, for instance, and were never buried with their former owners as grave goods but rather returned to the site.

Regarding this as an appalling superstition, the apparatchik used his authority to not only seize the meteorite, but also to have it melted down. Without consulting his superiors, he had it taken to the blast furnaces of Magadan to be melted down and then presented it to a sculptor in Vladivostok as simple pig steel to be used in a sculpture of Vladimir Lenin. His idea was to attract the natives to his glorious new planned settlement by destroying the fabric of their society and allowing them to gravitate to their old “deity” given new form and purpose.

The last communication heard from anyone in that area was a receipt for the statue’s installation. The ghostly and windswept ruins of the abandoned settlement and its Lenin statue stand even today as a monument to failure.

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