The first settlers on the territory of present-day Autonomous District appeared in the New Stone Age. In the Bronze Age, 3rd millenium BC, hunters and fishers built their dug-outs on the banks of Ob and Taz rivers.

In the late 1st - early 2nd milleniums BC the Samodian tribes of reindeer breeders moved here from Southern Siberia. As a result of their mixing with local aborigines of tundra and northern taiga the Nenets people (old name - Samoyeds) and related to them Entsy and Nganasan peoples were formed. The first Russian tradesmen and travelers appeared in this region only in the 16th century. The long and very interesting history of this land reflected in the local cultural traditions.

The Soviet period of Yamal development had a number of negative features, but at the same time it was a turning point in the development of education and cultural life of this region. In 1932-34 the first Nenets playwright Ivan Nogo wrote the plays "Shaman" and "Vauli Pietommin". In 1936 in the local newspaper the first poem of Ivan Istomin "Deer" was published. In 1940 10 public libraries of the Autonomous District contained 53 thousand books; there were five "Nenets Houses", eight "Red Tents" and two "Cultural Centres". The local health service became much more efficient.

In 1945 the Department of Culture was formed at the Autonomous District executive committee and a Cultural School was opened in Salekhard. Especially intensive was the growth of cultural institutions in the 1960s. In that period 17 Houses of Culture, 39 village public clubs, two amateur theatres, three music schools, the Museum of Regional Studies, the House of People's Creative Work and the Cultural Centre in Gydoyamo were functioning on the territory of the District. 64 libraries contained 500 thousand books and the cinema network had over 100 motion picture projectors.

Poet and writer Ivan Istomin became the first Yamal member of the Writers' Union of Russia. The new talented authors appeared: Leonid Laptzui, Ivan Yuganpelik, Roman Rugin, Mikul Shulgin, Prokopiy Saltykov.