The Arctic Council met in Kiruna last week and the meeting signalled the passing of the Chair from Sweden to Canada. Much media coverage was given over to the issue of new observers to the Council (China was accepted as Observer after 10 years of trying, also India, Italy, Japan, Singapore and South Korea). China now can participate at the same level as…the Association of World Reindeer Herders (!) which is also an Observer to the Arctic Council. Membership of the Council has been a valuable and important tool for bringing the concerns and challenges of reindeer herders to the highest levels of government around the Arctic (see EALAT Information). The importance of Observer status to WRH will likely increase over time as the Arctic grows rapidly in strategic and resource importance.
The President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj, passed an order in 2007 to improve the living conditions, livelihoods and herding of the “Reindeer People”. Also known as the Tsaatan, they are herders who primarily raise reindeer in the north. Accordingly, on its last meeting on May 11, the government approved a new decree which will conduct several more measures to advance the implementation of the 2007 directives.
In accordance with the decree, a plan to intensify the implementation of “Recovering the reindeer herding and improving the reindeer herder’s livelihood” program, and a National Council to manage the program nationwide were newly formed. The council will make an annual report of its performance and results in December to both the President of Mongolia and the public.
Representatives of the indigenous Saami people told Xinhua on Tuesday that they were actively adapting, with “the best knowledge available”, to challenges posed by the changing environment in the Arctic region.
According to the Saami delegation participating the Arctic Council Working Group presentations here in Kiruna, the northernmost Swedish city within the Arctic circle, they were trying to learn the best knowledge and to cope with the challenges, particularly the changing situations for reindeer herding, typical means of the group’s livelihood.
“There were needs, of course, minerals, copper and perhaps cellphones, but one thing we can say for certain is that, the world that people also need food (reindeer products)”, said Anders Oskal, a Norwegian Saami, also director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, voicing awareness been raised to the livelihood of his people just before the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council.
Across the world of reindeer husbandry, spring is a time for movement as people and reindeer move to the spring-summer and summer pastures. In Finnmark, Norway’s largest area of reindeer husbandry this ancient pattern is underway over the last few weeks. Thanks to digital technology, lots of herders are now making their own videos of this annual journey, that often are though some of the finest landscapes in the Arctic.
One such example is this one by a young woman of a reindeer herding family taking part in their spring migration from the Kautokeino area to the island of Arnøya, near Skjervøy on the coast. Anne Katja Gaup took this video during the spring’s migration of Ardni siida to the coast and we really like it. See below:
We have added some new galleries to our redesigned Reindeer Portal – and one of our featured photographers is a colleague, Evgenia Arbugaeva, who this month has had her work on Mammoth Tusk Hunters featured in the renowned National Geographic magazine published this month.
Arbugaeva, a native of the Republic of Sakha, has kindly shared a series of her pictures from Sakha which you can view here on our new gallery pages. Arbugaeva has also supplied our front page imagery.
See the photo series from National Geographic here, and visit Arbugaeva’s webpages here.
While transferring our website to this new site, we have also updated our You Tube channel which you can visit here.
All our videos and videos that we like and would like you to check out are here, and one of the new features is cross platform display, so that the channel renders correctly for mobile devices.
Great edited footage below from a few years ago from the BBC Bruce Parry in the Arctic series of the Oskal family whose pastures are adjacent to the city of Tromso and who have to deal with multiple challenges on their migrations, as development on the coast has eaten up their pastures and bisected migration routes.
One of biggest challenges of transferring from an older version of a website to a new one is often the management of images and photo galleries. And images are important! Content without imagery is hard to wade through, especially on the web.
That is why we are pleased to announce the completion of the transfer of the entire activities and events photo gallery of ICR / WRH from 2007 – 2011 to the new website and available for viewing. There is some work needed to integrate it to WordPress, but the heavy lifting is completed! There are 57 galleries and over 2100 images.
View the photo archive here.
With the fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’ and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the global family of reindeer herding peoples was again able to meet, communicate, network and collaborate. The first reindeer peoples festival was held in Tromso, Norway in 1993 and reindeer peoples from across the circumpolar region gathered together for the first time. Through this collaboration the Association of World Reindeer Herders was consolidated and the cycle of World Reindeer Herders’ Congresses was initiated, which this year will be held in Genhe/Alougoya, in Northeast China, July 25-8. Previous Congresses have been held in Inari, Yakutsk and Kautokeino.
You can now review the historic first meeting through a fascinating photo journal that was compiled after this first event. The guest of honour was the renowned ethnographer and adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl. There were meetings, speeches and a number of cultural events such as concert which featured Nils Aslak Valkeapaa and a sporting event, the World Lassoo Throwing Championships, a keenly fought competition that continues to this day. Participants came from 12 regions in Russia and 7 countries.
According to UNESCO, The Measles & Rubella Initiative, a global partnership to end these diseases, has helped reduce measles deaths by 71 per cent since 2001. An October 2012 immunization campaign against measles and rubella in Mongolia reached over 95 per cent of targeted children. A specific effort was made to reach the 24% of children in Mongolia that are born into nomadic familes, such as the reindeer herding families in the Khövsgöl’s remote district of Tsaganuur.
An Icelandic reindeer herder in Greenland is looking for volunteers to spend the summer herding, fishing and adventuring.
Stefán Hrafn Magnússon owns and operates the Isortoq Reindeer Station in South Greenland, which herds around 1,600 reindeer. He is looking for men and women aged 16 and older, non-smoking, in good health with a passion for outdoor activities and a positive outlook. The volunteering period is from the end of the current school term until back-to-school time in the fall. It will also include some light fence-repair work.
Volunteers will participate in the herding and slaughtering of reindeer and curing venison. The farm is equipped with its own slaughterhouse and smokehouse. The farm is also near a lake known for good trout fishing. Stefán also places an emphasis on eating sustainably. “People can pick their own menu,” he says. “If you want fish for lunch, then grab a net and go to the lake. We want people to be self-reliant, but also be cooperative and participate in general with the farmers.”
Greenlandic summers are warm and dry, but also have lots of mosquitos. Stefán says that volunteers can make their own schedule while staying there, switching between work and leisure. “Working here is a pleasure but so is just a visit,” he says. “We promise a wonderful summer.”
Interested volunteers should send their CV and cover letter to Stefán at email@example.com.
(from the Reykjavik Grapevine)
You can read about reindeer herding in Greenland here on the Reindeer Portal