The Union of Reindeer Herders of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug has launched an impressive website that is part of a larger strategy to develop, document and improve the lives of reindeer herders in the region.
Currently the Union, based in the regional capital Naryan-Mar (and is a member of the Association of World Reindeer Herders) comprises of 6 family, indigenous communities and 8 agricultural production cooperatives. The website is in Russian, and features news, video, photography. There are plans to expand this information portal into a commercial venture where herders products can be sold and later, there are plans to develop an archive and library.
You can visit the website here. Below is a very nice short video of reindeer herding in the region made by the Union.
Cherski is a small village of under three thousand people, on the Kolyma river, close to the Arctic Ocean and is the administrative center of the Nizhnekolymsky District in the Sakha Republic, Russia, nearly 2000 kilometers east of Yakutsk or a four hour flight (like many remote villages in Sakha, it is not connected to the road system).
The EALLU team of ICR and WRH are there this week holding seminars and meetings with the Arctic College in the town, and also with local and regional administrators to talk about the challenges facing reindeer husbandry and the EALLU goal of highlighting the knowledge and value of traditional foods. The team (Inger Anita Smuk, Elna Sara, Mikkel Anders Kemi, Ravna Maret Buljo, Svetlana Avelova, Alena Gerasimova and Svein Mathiesen) will also travel to the tundra to meet with herders. They will need warm clothes! Current temperatures for Cherski are below -20C and falling. See photos from the early part of the visit and seminar below. See photos by Alexei Kurilov, a local journalist who was following the EALLU team here.
At the close of the Northern Forum Assembly, the staff of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) and the Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) held an anniversary celebration – 10 years since the establishment of ICR and 25 years for WRH in Yakutsk. The celebration included a seminar with talks by WRH Chair Mikhail Pogodaev (now officially appointed as Chair of the Northern Forum), Inger Anita Smuk, Anders Oskal, Andrey Krivoshapkin, Elena Golomareva, Konstantin Robbek and Svein Mathiesen. The seminar was well attended with 50-60 local participants (see the programme below). This followed the holding of a board meeting of ICR. Part of the ICR and WRH team have since travelled to the small of Cherskiy, a small village which is the administrative centre of the Nizhnekolymsky District in the Sakha Republic, Russia, located on the Kolyma River 1,920 kilometers (1,190 mi) east of Yakutsk, the capital of the republic. While there, there will be meetings with the Arctic College, a field trip to the tundra to meet with reindeer herders and a week long focus on traditional food in relation to the EALLU project.
The Northern Forum Assembly finished today, November 6th. Below are some photos from the gathering featuring WRH and ICR personnel, a meeting with the President of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) with ICR, a TV Sakha appearance by ICR and WRH and more.
More news to follow
The Northern Forum Assembly continues and today in Yakutsk, and as an integral part of the Assembly, there was a feast of traditional Arctic food at Muus Khaya restaurant prepared by Sakha, Even, Evenki and Sami – to feed hungry people of course, but importantly to demonstrate the extraordinary knowledge and skill that is embedded in small communities when it comes to the preparation of traditional foods. The Arctic Council SDWG EALLU project has this very goal in mind and was a part of the preparations and execution. The Assembly continues tomorrow and will be followed at the weekend by the board meeting of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry. See some photos of the feast below.
The Northern Forum General Assembly started today in the city of Yakutsk. The multi day assembly will culminate on Friday with the election of a new Chair. The current acting Chair is Mikhail Pogodaev, who is the Executive Chair of the Association of World Reindeer Herders. Pogodaev has ensured that traditional livelihoods such as reindeer herding are to the fore in this Assembly. Asked why he thought the Northern Forum was an important and useful agency for northerners in general and herders in particular, Pogodaev said,
The Northern Forum is an organization that works with Governors of the Arctic regions and local authorities. It is important to work with local authorities because it is they who control reindeer husbandry locally. The Association of World Reindeer Herders is an organization that has very good relations with local authorities and this is important as we address the main issues that impact herding through them.
See some photos below
Tomorrow, the 12th General Assembly of the Northern Forum gets underway in Yakutsk in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutsk). The Northern Forum is a non-profit, international organization composed of sub-national or regional governments from eight northern countries and was established in 1991. The goal of the Northern Forum is to give northern regional leaders a means to share knowledge and experience in addressing common challenges and to support sustainable development and the implementation of cooperative socio-economic initiatives among Northern regions and through international fora.
The Assembly will focus on the following broad themes:
1. Role of the Northern Subnationals in the changing World – new opportunities and challenges
2. Positive life strategies for Northern populations
3. Forms and Mechanisms of Business cooperation within the Northern Forum
4. Regional strategies for Climate Change Adaptation
5. Infrastructure in the North
6. Enhancing traditional livelihoods, preservation of indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge on food culture
The focus on food will see a significant contribution by the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR), the Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH), the Nomadic Herders project and the EALLU project. In addition, there will be a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of WRH and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of ICR. See the full programme below.
The Midnite Sun Reindeer Ranch in Nome, Alaska has taken the unusual step of turning to crowdfunding to raise the estimated $200,000 needed to purchase 2 winter insulated mobile slaughtering unit, in order that they could slaughter and process reindeer meat year round and obtain a USDA licence which would give them the possibility to broaden the scope of their sales. Currently they are only permitted to slaughter on frozen ground and sell to other processors and local people.
According to an article on the KNOM Radio Mission (listen / read here on their site), there are no USDA approved reindeer meat processors in the region. The ranch is hopeful that there is a pent up demand for locally available, fresh, quality meat. You can read about the ranch and their crowdfunding campaign ‘Mobile Slaughter Unit & Process Unit’ here on Indiegogo (so far, they have raised $250..there is some way to go..).
Last month, during the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, a number of Norwegian parliamentarians met with Dukha / Tsataan youth with whom WRH and ICR partners through the Nomadic Herders project in a session organized by ICR. (see story and photo essay here).
In tandem with this session, 12 reindeer husbandry youth were granted UArctic Scholarships through the UArctic EALAT Institute. The scholarships were granted to work with Traditional Knowledge in their own culture related to protected areas, reindeer husbandry and conservation of biodiversity in times of climate change. The scholarships were delivered by Ola Elvestuen, a representative of the Venstre party in the Norwegian Storting.
In a few short years the Arctic Circle assembly, held annually in Iceland’s capital has grown to become the largest Arctic related gathering, and is now attended by more than 1500 participants from close to 50 countries. The Assembly is held every October at the Harpa Conference Center and Conference Hall in Reykjavík, Iceland and has just wrapped up. In addition, the Arctic Circle organizes smaller forums on specific subjects, such as the 2015 forums in Alaska and Singapore, and the 2016 forums in Québec and Greenland. This year was no exception and even featured a keynote by President Hollande of France who noted the critical importance of action on climate change in advance of COP 21 in Paris, next month. Watch videos of the keynote presentations here and see photos here.
Norway’s State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tore Hattrem was in attendance and said Norway has stepped up its climate diplomacy over the last year and noted “Climate change affects everything. It can change food production globally, and in the end also affect security policy”
ICR Director Anders Oskal is on the Advisory Board of the Assembly and spoke at two sessions – one on Arctic Research and the other on Business and Cultural Development in the North where he was joined by Mikhail Pogodaev, who is currently the acting chair of the Northern Forum. In total ICR delivered 7 speeches and hosted 2 outbreak sessions in cooperation with the Northern Forum, IASSA, IASC, UArctic and business leaders.
The ICR/ WRH team are travelling onwards to the Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials meeting, the first under the US chairmanship which gets underway in Anchorage tomorrow.