Our expedition traveled to the Don Cossack Ust- Khopiorskaia Stanitsa to record mythologized cultural practices in the form of rituals and performances. Located on the banks of the Don and Khopior River junction, about 1,500 people reside in a village consisting of several streets of wooden and stone houses, a cultural center, a school, and a few small markets. Most remaining residents in the village are pensioners, who support their meager incomes with backyard gardens. The young who have finished primary school leave for the nearest city, Volgograd, to find work or pursue further studies, because opportunities for neither exist in the village.

Yelena Viktorovna Minyonok, our expedition leader, is a renowned Russian folklorist and chief curator of archives at the Institute of World Literature in Moscow. In an effort to preserve dying traditions, we tracked down members of the old village choir and recorded quintessential songs in the traditional Cossack repertoire. Through participant observation and informant interviews, we investigated the role Cossack mythology plays in dictating how Cossacks see themselves and how others view them, exploring the perceptual transformation of Cossack culture through time.