Reindeer Herders

Reindeer Herders

Kathrine I. Johnsen defended PhD thesis

February 14, 2019 • Svetlana AvelovaBlog, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

On 4 February 2019 Kathrine I. Johnsen defended her doctoral thesis in Ås, Akershus county, at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Read more…


EALLU project will continue its work

February 8, 2019 • Svetlana AvelovaBlog, EALLU, ICR/WRH, Projects, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

On February 4-6 Association of World Reindeer Herders attended the meeting of the Sustainable Development Working Group of the Arctic Council, which was held in Kemi, Finland.
The meeting was attended by member states of the working group, permanent participants, observers, and others.

Read more…


Forest fires and reindeer husbandry

September 13, 2018 • Svetlana AvelovaBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

The past summer will be remembered as hot and dry, as well as numerous forest fires that raged both in Sweden and Yakutia.

Situation in Sweden

Sami reindeer herders of Sweden described the damage caused to reindeer pastures by forest fires.
Approximately has 25 000 of hectare forest burned, whereof 21 500 of hectare where useful grazing lands and 31 out of 51 reindeer herding communities are someway affected by the fires.
The most severe forest fires within reindeer herding areas where in Jämtland (8500 of hectares), Dalarna (2500 of hectares) and Västernorrland (500 of hectares).
The regions of Norrbotten, Västerbotten also experienced some smaller forest fires, which were extinguished rather quickly.

Both primary and secondary winter grazing lands has burned, and it is hard to predict how the reindeer will act when arriving to the troubled areas this winter, and how it will impact the reindeer herding in the future.
As well as the reindeer herders, are the farmers, foresters and animal owners afflicted by the drought and fires. Many farmers have indicated for a reduced amount of fodder production, which in the long term also affects the reindeer herder whom purchases the ensilage from the farmer. One would therefore like to wish for a favorable winter season to come.
The climate has changed; and as reindeer herders one have no predictions on what to expect for the seasons to come, and cannot either surely know if it will be favorable for the animals.
The winter of 2017/2018 was for many reindeer herding districts rough, due to a lot of snow, resulting in exhausted animals.

The Sami Parliament in Sweden has been in contact with the responsible ministries of the Swedish government to apply for funding to excess costs due the fires and the drought. The reindeer herding are not yet included within the national intervention funding that the Swedish government appropriated to support Swedish farmers affected by the drought and fires.
Our member organization, Ruoŧa Sámiid Riikasearvi also remarks that this kind of catastrophe funding should not affect other funding related to reindeer herding.

Forest and Taiga forest are recognized as a threat to traditional reindeer herding, already stated in the Jokkmokk Declaration from 2017 at the latest World Reindeer Herders congress:

Note that forest and tundra fires are severly impacting reindeer herders, and urge authorities to give priority to reindeer pastures when fighting such fires.

Situation in Sakha republic

The total area of ​​fires over the past summer in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) has exceeded one million hectares. Fire extinguished from the ground and air. About a thousand people and over one hundred units of equipment were involved in extinguishing fires.
Forest fires over the summer occurred in Olekminsky, Vilyuisk, Namsky, Gorny, Nyurbinsky, Myrninsky, Ust-Maysky, Lensk, Amginsky, Tattinsky and Kobyaisky districts of the republic.
The situation was worsened by the air temperature, which reached over 30 degrees Celsius. In recent years, on the territory of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), there has been an increase in the cases of the approach of bears to human settlements. This is due to the increase in the brown bear population, the migration of bears due to crop failure, annual forest fires in the republic and neighboring regions.

As for reindeer herders, it should be noted that from the above-mentioned ditricts exposed to forest fires, traditionally reindeer herding is practiced in Verkhoyansk, Olekminsky, Kobiai, Zhigansky and Ust-Yansky ditricts. Although there is no specific information about the damage caused to reindeer husbandry in the media, given the general amount of fires in the republic, it can be assumed that the damage has been caused to some extent.

As reported on the website of the Department of Forestry of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), for some fires there was no threat to human settlements and economic objects and the projected costs for their extinguishment exceeded the predicted harm that could have been caused to them, in this connection, the decisions of the Governmental Commission for prevention and liquidation of emergencies and ensuring fire safety of Sakha republic  their extinguishing has been suspended.



Visit to Evenki herders in China – A Sámi Herders Perspective

June 11, 2018 • Philip BurgessBlog, EALLU, ICR/WRH, Projects, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Issát Turi is a Sámi reindeer herder, one of the authors of the award winning EALLU book and has been working with and for the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry for many years. He also accompanied Anders Oskal, Mikhail Pogodaev, Inger Anita Smuk, Juoksa Smuk and Elen Sara Sparrok after the Gourmand Awards to Inner Mongolia, to the Evenki village of Alouguya, China as the ICR-WRH team visited with Evenki herders. Below is a brief summary of a conversation with him now that the ICR / WRH team are back in Sápmi.  

Of course reindeer herding on the tundra and the taiga are very different things. For the Evenki, their economy is totally different. We depend on meat production, whereas Evenki in China use the herds to produce medicinal products from antlers and there is some small milk production. There’s a big market for these products in the Far East. They have challenges to recruit young herders of course, as many of the herds are quite remote and are in tough places to live. Their herds are now inside a recently created national park and this has brought new challenges. Local Evenki are no longer allowed to hunt inside the borders of the Park and hunting is a big part of their livelihoods. The rules of the National Park have also meant that herders are not allowed to carry any weapon, even a bow and arrow, to protect their reindeer from predators. Bears are especially numerous in the park and are taking  a lot of the reindeer calfs. Herders are allowed to have a dog but herders told us that the dogs don’t help so much. 

See a new photo gallery from the ICR / WRH team visit to Alouguya below

Read more…


ICR/WRH Visit Evenki Reindeer Herders in Aoluguya, China. See Photo Gallery

June 4, 2018 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

After the stunning victory of overall  ‘Best in the World’ Foodbook for the EALLU food book, a smaller delegation from the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) and the Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) made their way north to the town of Genhe, then to the village of Aolouguya to meet once more with their Evenki herding compatriots. The ICR/WRH delegation consisted of Anders Oskal, Mikhail Pogodaev, Inger Anita Smuk, Issat Turi, Ellen Sara Sparrok and Juoksa Smuk. 

WRH attended meetings and a welcome dinner with the Mayor of Genhe, Zhaomin Hu. Genhe is a sizeable city  in the far northeast of Inner Mongolia, and is the only region with reindeer husbandry which is centred on the Evenki reindeer herding village of Aoluguya. Genhe and Alouguya was the location of the 5th World Reindeer Herding Congress

Read more…


“I didn’t choose this life, it chose me”

May 9, 2018 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, EALLU, ICR/WRH, Projects, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

A nice article and photo (in German) was published in Berliner Zeitung a few months ago which we are reposting here, with their permission. Journalist Bernd Hauser visited Kautokeino in the spring and spent time with Issát Turi (pictured with his mother Kirsten Turi) and family in their winter pastures. Turi talked about the challenges facing reindeer herders in Finnmark and how herders can best continue to practice their traditional livelihoods. Turi is also an author in the EALLU food book where he wrote about the traditional ways that Sámi slaughter reindeer in order that the flavours of the reindeer meat are enhanced. The article closes with a quote from Turi that encapsulates the essence of the livelihood: “Nicht ich habe dieses Leben gewählt. Es hatmich gewählt!” (I didn’t choose this life, it chose me)

Berliner Zeitung 2018

Concerning court proceedings from reindeer herders in Norway

April 20, 2018 • Philip BurgessChallenges, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Another reindeer herding case which was brought to the Norwegian Supreme Court now concerns reindeer herders in southern Norway of the Femund reindeer district. According to NRK, the dispute is between reindeer herders and farmers who demand a compensation for 530 000 kroner according to the law on damage. The case started in 2012, but the courth did not consider extreme and tough winter conditions for reindeer in 2012. 

This case becoming a case of principle,which deals with negative attitudes towards reindeer herders in southern Trøndelag and a desire to change the reindeer husbandry law. 

For more detailed information read on NRK



2018 – the year of Reindeer Husbandry in the Nenets District of Russia

January 15, 2018 • Alena GerasimovaReindeer HerdersLeave a comment
The year of 2018 to be the year of Reindeer Husbandry in the Nenets Autonomous District (NAO)   – this was decided by the residents of the district, given the majority of their votes for this topic” – the acting governor of NAO, Alexander Tsybulsky, wrote on his social network account, while declaring his support for those who showed civic activity by taking part in the survey.     

Naming the theme of the coming year, The new NAO governor also mentioned the first person who had raised the issues of reindeer husbandry, it was Igor Ledkov, deputy chairman of the reindeer herding “Harp” Co., who died in an airсraft accident in the airport of Naryan-Mar.

Read more…


SLOW-TV takes on Spring Reindeer Migration

April 25, 2017 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

In a  groundbreaking and incredibly exciting event, the Sara family from the Fálá reindeer herding district in Finnmark are being followed 24/7 by NRK, the Norwegian National Broadcasting Company.

NRK pioneered ‘Slow-TV’ and for the first time ever, the entire spring migration of reindeer and people from the winter pastures in inner Finnmark to the summer pastures on Kvaløya will be simultaneously live streamed and televised. Sami have migrated with their reindeer following the natural cycles of the seasons and the land for millennia and this event brings it right into peoples lives in ways unimaginable even just a few years ago.

The migration will take about 1.5 weeks and you can tune in to watch at Although the reindeer just started moving today, lots of people are tuning in, with 135,000 watching already. Expect this number to rise.


Reindeer Really Do Fly….

March 16, 2017 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Today the 4th Congress of Reindeer Herders of Russia is getting underway in the city of Yakutsk. This picture shows part of a delegation of reindeer from Olenek flying down to Yakutsk (in First class. This is a 2h45 minute flight, which as you can see offers in fight service!


The IV Reindeer Herders Congress of Russia will be held in Yakutsk

March 11, 2017 • Alena GerasimovaBlog, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

The IV Reindeer Herders Congress of Russia will be held in Yakutsk on March 16-19, 2017. Delegates and guests from 20 Russian reindeer herding regions and foreign guests are expected to arrive.

Participants will discuss the main problems and directions in the development of the Northern domestic reindeer industry of the country, they also will discuss the strengthening of relationships between  reindeer herding regions of Russia, exchange experience in the field of reindeer herding.

Read more…


Annual Reindeer Herder’s Day in Iengra (Yakutia)

March 6, 2017 • Alena GerasimovaReindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Traditional reindeer herding holiday, which is called Uktyvun in Evenki,  started on the 1st of March in the village of Iengra, Neryunrinsky District of Yakutia. Indigenous representatives from all the reindeer herding family communities, who spend most of the year with their herds in the taiga, came to the village to celebrate. 

Read more…


Reindeer Greetings!

December 23, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Seasons greetings to all our friends and colleagues and to reindeer herders all over the world


Archival Film of 1993 World Reindeer Herders Congress

November 22, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Fantastic archival film in Russian about the Association of World Reindeer Herders’ first gathering of reindeer peoples from across the Arctic, held in Tromsø, Norway in 1993. This signalled the beginning of global cooperation between reindeer herders that has continued to this day. The next Congress will be held in Jokkmokk, Sweden, next year.

The Film was made by the  Parliamentary Assembly of small-numbered peoples of the North of the Russian Federation and the Author and convener is the President of the Association of Indigenous Small-numbered Peoples of the North of the Russian Federation. The film was  written by the late Yeremei Aipin. The Director and cameraman was S. Rakhomyagi

Mass Reindeer Deaths Linked to Extreme Climate Events on Yamal

November 16, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment
Dead Reindeer, death due to extreme climate event. Photo: Roma Serotetto

Dead Reindeer, death due to extreme climate event. Photo: Roma Serotetto

From the press release announcing a new paper entitled ‘Sea ice, rain-on-snow and tundra reindeer nomadism in Arctic Russia’ published today in the journal, Biology Letters. You can read the article in full here.

Scientists have interviewed nomadic reindeer herders in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug of West Siberia, the world’s most productive reindeer herding region, to look at how global warming is affecting their way of life. While rain-on-snow generally does not cause problems in spring, it can be catastrophic for reindeer in the autumn when rain turns to an ice crust as normal freezing temperatures return. This crust, often several centimetres thick,
prevents the reindeer from feeding on fodder beneath the snow throughout the winter
months. Two extreme weather events in 2006 and 2013 caused mass starvation among the
reindeer herds, and researchers for the first time have linked these extreme weather events
on the coastal mainland in northwest Russia with sea ice loss in the adjoining Barents and
Kara seas.

The most recent rain-on-snow event of November 2013 resulted in 61 000 reindeer deaths,
about 22% out of 275 000 reindeer on the Yamal Peninsula, says the paper, which warns
that these events seem to be increasing in severity.

Read more…


Anthrax in Reindeer on Yamal Seminar Held, Salekhard

November 12, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Anthrax seminar The ICR and WRH team have been in Salekhard, the capital of the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug for the whole week and yesterday, attended an international seminar on the outbreak of anthrax on the Yamal Peninsula this summer. The anthrax outbreak was an event that captured global headlines and aroused significant concern amongst herders and their advocates, as significant reindeer culls have been suggested, and a desire to reduce the number of active herders has also touted. Considerable unease and uncertainty within the livelihood has arisen as a result.

The seminar was a two day event and was opened by the Yamal Governor Dmitry Kobylkin and included presentations by multiple presenters from Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, UK, Germany, Canada and the US on various topics including anthrax outbreaks, pastures, reindeer health, education,

From the ICR/WRH team, presentations were made by Svein Mathiesen (“Social- ecological resilience of reindeer husbandry in times of Arctic change”), Johan Mathis Turi (“The role of traditional knowledge and management in the future”) and ICR board member Roza Laptander from the Arctic Centre, Finland, (“Turbulent periods in the history of Yamal reindeer husbandry in stories of tundra dwellers”)

Read more…


Lynx Kill Far More Reindeer Than Science Previously Stated

October 19, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Lynx predatorFascinating research on predators emerging from NINA in Norway regarding the rate and number of reindeer (and sheep) killed by Lynx is far higher than authorities have previously stated. Indeed, the numbers are far closer to that which herders have always claimed, especially in Troms and Finnmark, that predation by Lynx is a major threat to herders’ economy and livelihood.

In February of this year, 10 Lynx were captured and fitted with GPS collars which were monitored by researchers. Once animals were stationary for some time, researchers would then look for dead animals in those areas. Researchers found that a make lynx can kill a reindeer or sheep each day. One lynx in particular killed 100 reindeer.

While compensation for losses to predators are compensated, up until now Finnmark and Troms County reject 90% of all claims. Hans Ole Eira, Head of the Lakkonjárga district is quoted as saying that he is glad that research is finally proving that herders should be believed.

Read the full story here (in Norwegian)


Nenets Student Learns Sami, Completes Groundbreaking Work on Sami / Nenets Slaughter terminologies

July 1, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

nechei serotettoNechei A. Serotetto, a young Nenets student who took the remarkable step of travelling to Kautokeino in the heart of the Sami reindeer herding area, living there for a year, learning Sami language and applying her acquired knowledge on Nenets and Sami reindeer herding slaughtering techniques and terminology has received top marks for her completed final year paper.  Serotetto’s work was for her final paper in teacher education at the Institute of the North, Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia. This is a valuable contribution as Nenets slaughtering terminology is highly specific and sometimes ‘secret’ her work is a valuable addition to the broader knowledge and awareness of traditional knowledge of herding peoples. It is worth noting that no-one has ever studied the traditional Nenets way of slaughtering reindeer, making her work groundbreaking, particularly when compared to the more studied Sami practices of slaughter, which she studied and participated in, during her stay in Kautokeino.

Serotetto grew up in a nomadic reindeer herding family in the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the largest single area of reindeer herding in the world where she was immersed in the nomadic herding life of her family and to where she is returning.

Read more…


New Law on Nomadic Family Finally Been Adopted in Yakutia

June 18, 2016 • Alena GerasimovaBlog, Challenges, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Photo by Yuri Kokovin, 2014 at Iengra ,Yakutia

After a long struggle in Sakha Republic (Yakutia) a new law on Nomadic Family in Sakha Republic was finally adopted on June 15, 2016. The State Assembly (Il Tumen) of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) for the first time made it protected by law – the definition of nomadic family and nomadic way of life, which will allow indigenous peoples of the North to use their constitutional rights.

It took many years to bring the draft law on approval of the Yakutian  State Assembly. Acccording to the law, nomadic family is a family that lives and migrates on nomadic territories and reindeer pastures throughout the whole calendar year for the sustainable and rational use of food, water, biological and hunting resources. 

Read more…


New Phd: State Management & Traditional Knowledge in Reindeer Husbandry Management

May 19, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Ellen Inga TuriSámi scholar Ellen Inga Turi is defending her Phd on Friday, May 20 in Umeå, Sweden. Her work is groundbreaking and touches on the field of management, reindeer husbandry and traditional ecological knowledge.

The PhD is entitled “State Steering and Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Reindeer Herding Governance: Cases from western Finnmark, Norway and Yamal, Russia”. Her Faculty Opponent is Professor Dietrich Soyez from the Department of Geography at University of Cologne, Germany. The thesis is part of the research project IPY EALÁT which has been coordinated by the Sami University of Applied Sciences and UArctic Ealát Institute within the International Reindeer Centre Husbandry in Kautokeino / Guovdageaidnu.

The area of investigation were in the Sami reindeer grazing area of West Finnmark in Norway and the Nenets reindeer grazing area in Yamal, Western Siberia, which are the largest reindeer herding areas in the world, both in terms of number of people and reindeer. In these areas there are certain similarities, but also major differences in terms such as political organization and management systems.

Read more…


In Sámi language May is Miessemánu, or Reindeer Calf Month.

May 10, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Miessemánu: In northern Sámi language, the month of May is called Miessemánu, or ‘reindeer calf month’, and it is this time of year that the cycle of life continues in the world of reindeer herding. For reindeer and herders life starts anew across the Sámi area, as reindeer are not only giving birth to new calves but they are on the move, most particularly in Norway and Sweden.

A newborn reindeer calf runs alongside its mother on the Nadym Tundra. Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia. © Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography / ArcticPhoto

A newborn reindeer calf runs alongside its mother on the Nadym Tundra. Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia. © Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography / ArcticPhoto

In many districts, it is time to leave the winter pastures and travel overland to the summer pastures and reindeer and their herders are travelling over ancient and well worn migratory paths often to the coast, mainly by walking, sometimes by boat, and occasionally by truck to reach their summer pastures. It is also a dangerous time for reindeer – predators are on the move too, and reindeer calves are food for lynx, wolverine, eagles and some bears and wolves. Herders in Scandinavia can lose as many as half of the calves born to their animals, so it is of vigilance and a time for extended families to take part in watching and moving with the herd.

Thanks to ICR board member Roza Laptander for pointing out that Nenets people also have reindeer themed months in their language – April is the ‘false reindeer calving month’ (Сие ниць иры) and May is the reindeer calving month (Ты” ниць иры).

So here’s to Miessemánu, travel safely and watch out for the predators!


Boazojahki – A Reindeer Calendar Year

May 2, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

BoazojahkiA unique Sami language calendar was launched last week in Kautokeino. Entitled ‘Boazojahki‘, it is a calendar that details the calendar year in terms of what it means for reindeer, reindeer herders and the work that must be done at the time of the year. Each month covers an enormous amount of information and insight into the cyclical and nature based world of reindeer husbandry.

The calendar is entirely in Sami language and  is aimed primarily at children and youth but is of interest to all with an interest in reindeer herding. The author and creator is Karen Marie Eira Buljo.

Below are some pictures from the launch in Kautokeino. The calendar can be purchased here from the Sami language publisher Davvi Girji.

Read more…


ICR and WRH Celebrate Reindeer and Herders in Topolinoe, Sakha

April 7, 2016 • Svetlana AvelovaBlog, EALLU, ICR/WRH, Projects, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Reindeer Herders Day on the Tompo River

Between 31 March to 2 April in the village of Topolinoe (Tomponsky ulus, Sakha Republic) during the annual Reindeer Herders Day celebrations (which are held across Russia) there were special celebrations of the 85th anniversary of Vasily Mikhailovich Kladkin’. He was a well known ‘Hero of Socialist Labor’ and an ‘Honored Worker of Agriculture’.

Kladkin Vasily Mikhailovich (10.01.1931-27.05.2003) was a reindeer herder and Director of the sovkhoz. Not only are the residents of Topolinoe proud of him, but also the entire Republic. Under his leadership, the kolkhoz “Tomponsky” achieved outstanding success with regard to its economic indicators in the field of reindeer husbandry. Through effective organization and an intensive pre-slaughter fattening of reindeer, there was an increase in meat production and meat quality specifically and more generally, an improved local and regional economy and livelihood.

Topolinoe 2016006

Eveny herders of Brigade 12 on the move.

Read more…


WRH discussed the 1st Annual International Reindeer Move in the Arctic

April 6, 2016 • Alena GerasimovaBlog, Reindeer HerdersComments (1)

IMG-20160405-WA0007 It was a very tough schedule for WRH and ICR representatives Anders Oskal and Svein Mathiesen during their stay in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) this week, and they also made time to discuss the first annual international reindeer move with Muus Khaya director Egor Makarov. The reindeer move is planned for February-March 2017 for a period of 10-12 days, and will trek for 500 km through the Verkhoyansk Range in Siberia.

The idea and purpose of this of this large expedition is also to draw more attention to reindeer herding and to support international cooperation between reindeer herders of the world.     

Read more…


Johan Mathis Turi gives Academia Borealis keynote

February 13, 2016 • Svetlana AvelovaBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

JMTJohan Mathis Turi was invited to give the keynote to the annual meeting of Academia Borealis on February 11th in Tromso, Norway. Turi has been invited to be a member of the Academia Borealis. His speech was entitled “Reindeer Herding in the 21st century”. You can read about this more on Academia Borealis webpage.

Read more…


Girjas Sami village in Sweden wins case for land rights against Sweden

February 3, 2016 • Alena GerasimovaChallenges, Reindeer HerdersComments (1)

Matti BergAs reported in Sameradion & SVT Sapmi today: Matti Berg is in tears since the Girjas Sami village (sameby) have won their case against the state.

Girjas Sami village has won the case regarding the management of hunting and fishing in the area. The verdict was made today in Gällivare District Court, which is indeed an important principal decision for indigenous peoples.

For more information go here 


“Samisk reindrift, norske myter” Seminar in Kautokeino

January 21, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Dávggas, Projects, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment






On February 9th, a seminar is being held in Kautokeino to mark the launch and publication of this important new book: “Samisk reindrift, norske meter”. Although the final participant list and presentations are to be finalized, there will be presentations and discussions led by the book lead authors and editors, Tor A. Benjaminsen (NMBU), Inger Marie Gaup Eira and Mikkel Nils Sara (Sami University College). Read this post here on the Reindeer Portal to read more about the book and where it can be purchased and here to read about the DÁVGGAS project. The seminar is being organized by NMBU, ICR, UEI and the Sami University College.

Samisk reindrift, norske myter. Finnes det alternative løsninger for forvaltningen av reindriften i Finnmark?

Fagseminar i forbindelse med lansering av en ny fagbok om samisk reindrift i Finnmark Diehtosiida, Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino 9. februar 2016, kl 09.00-14.00


New book: Samisk reindrift, Norske Myter

January 19, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Dávggas, Projects, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment






A new book goes on sale today entitled ‘Samisk reindrift, Norske Myter’ (Sami reindeer husbandry, Norwegian myths) and it is the primary deliverable from the DÁVGGAS project, an interdisciplinary project involving researchers from NMBU and the Sami University College.

Edited by Tor A. Benjaminsen, Inger Marie Gaup Eira and Mikkel Nils Sara, the book is a collection of articles written by the project resaerchers and is sure to be an important contribution to the ongoing and often contested debates surrounding the continuation of an age old indigenous livelihood with the confines of a contemporary nation state. A seminar held in combination with the books publication will be held in Kautokeino, on February 9, 2016 (details to follow). The book is in Norwegian – you can view the introductory chapter here and purchase the book here.


From the foreword of the book (apologies, my translation),

Read more…


‘Moving with the Reindeer in Winter’ – Stunning Drone footage of reindeer migration

January 8, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Beautiful footage shot by by Jan Helmer Olsen who lives in Karasjok. It is shot by drone and taken while the reindeer migrate to their winter pastures, in Finnmarksvidda, Norway. The migration is timeless and majestic and is part of the perennial rhythm of herding life in the North.


Watch Per Jonas Partapuoli Address Global Landscapes Forum, Paris

December 7, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, EALLIN, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Per Jonas PartapuoliPer Jonas Partapuoli, board member of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, addressed the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris on Saturday, December 5th, an event that is shadowing the much larger COP 21 negotiations. From the Global Landscapes website,

The respect and recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, customary land tenure and traditional knowledge have significantly contributed to more sustainable use and management of various ecosystems. Speakers at the session represent both Indigenous Peoples’ organizations and corporate representatives to explore the crucial question: Is a triple-win – where the economy, people and the climate all benefit – possible, despite the many documented and potential conflicts.

Per Jonas talks at 30.30 into the video and raises the work of the EALLIN project and the challenges facing reindeer herding in Sapmi, with a focus on the mining giant LKAB and Kiruna.

“My family have been practicing reindeer herding long before Sweden became a country”


Planned Railway to Complete the Bisection of Yamal Peninsula

December 2, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Bovanenkovo-Sabetta railwaysNews from Yamal – according to a news report, the extension of the Bovanenkovo railway to the newly constructed seaport at Sabetta has been given official approval. The railway is already the most northerly railway in the world and this will extend it further northwards be several hundred kilometres, bringing the railway to the east coast of the Yamal Peninsula for the first time. The peninsula is the largest single area of reindeer husbandry in the world where primarily Nenets herders undertake long seasonal migrations with their reindeer. This railway will bisect migration routes and result in a sizeable footprint in the construction and operation zone.

On November 25, 2015, Legislative Assembly of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District approved the Law on participation in the strategic project “Construction and Operation of the New Non-Common Use Railway Line Bovanenkovo-Sabetta”. The railway is to be built and operated under the principles of private-public partnership with the conclusion of an agreement with the District’s Government.

Bovanenkovo-Sabetta railways

The new line will be a continuation of the Obskaya-Bovanenkovo line in compliance with the strategy for social and economic development of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District through 2020. It is particularly focused on ensuring the construction of railway infrastructure at Sabetta seaport and transportation of cargoes by the Northern Sea Route. Source.

You can see imagery of the railway on the Gazprom website.



New Information Source for Nenets Autonomous Okrug Reindeer Herding

November 24, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

NAO Reindeer Husbandry website

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.

Read more…


Herders in Alaska Turn to Crowdfunding to Build Mobile Slaughter House

October 26, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Mobile Slaughter UnitThe 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..).


Zhigansk Reindeer Herders visited Sapmi

September 30, 2015 • Svetlana AvelovaBlog, EALLU, ICR/WRH, Reindeer Herders, RIEVDANLeave a comment


Zhigansk Reindeer herders from the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) visited Scandinavia in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Association of World Reindeer Herders

From the history

Exactly 25 years ago, in the autumn of 1990, a group of scientists and reindeer herders from Norway traveled to Russia, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), to meet with reindeer herders. From that time began the active cooperation between reindeer herders from Russia and Scandinavia. The Association of World Reindeer Herders originates from the same time. In addition, on the recommendation of the Arctic Council in 2005, in Kautokeino was founded the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, which has been working fruitfully already for 10 years.

Today the Association of World Reindeer Herders and the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry created a wide network of international cooperation between reindeer herding peoples from all over the world.

Our days

In celebration of significant dates, a group of herders from Zhigansky district traveled to Scandinavia.

Read more…


Arctic Economic Forum (AEF) open in Tromsø to day

September 8, 2015 • Svein MathiesenBlog, ICR/WRH, Projects, Reindeer Herders, UArctic EALAT InstituteLeave a comment

Director of International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR)  Anders Oskal present at the opening of  the Arctic Economic Forum in Tromsø to day. Anders Oskal is member of AEF here with Artur Wilczynski Ambassador to Norway from Canada and Nina Buvang Vaaja
Deputy Director Arctic Council, Tara Sweeney Chair of Arctic Economic Forum


FullSizeRender-kopi 2
FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender-kopi


‘Sodura’: Dukha Reindeer Husbandry on the Big Screen

June 4, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

SoduraA big budget and highly stylized feature film has been released which revolves around the Tsataan reindeer herders in Mongolia. Called ‘Sodura’, the film has been made in Mongolia and features Mongolian actors and presumably used people who knew how to handle reindeer as the trailer shows extensive scenes of reindeer herding, herding and migrating. ‘Sodura’, is the name of the heroine of the film, who is played by the well known Mongolian singer Ochgerel. The trailer shows a highly dramatic storyline and Mongolian media is reporting that it will be an entry into the Cannes film festival of 2016. You can watch it below.

Dukha, or Tsataan reindeer herders are one of the smallest numbered herding groups in the world and face enormous challenges related to the breakneck speed of development in Mongolia and the development of nature protected areas around the Lake Hovsgol region where they live alongside many other challenges. The Nomadic Herders project led by ICR is a partner with several herding peoples in the taiga, including Tsataan.


Read more…


Reindeer Parliament (poroparlamentti) Convenes in Finland

June 1, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer Herders, UArctic EALAT InstituteLeave a comment

PoroparlamenttiEvery year the Paliskuntain yhdistys the governing body of the reindeer herding cooperatives in Finland hosts the poroparlamentti (Reindeer Parliament) in Rovaniemi. Today, the 67th Reindeer Parliament is now underway and continues tomorrow.

You watch the livestream (and archived streams) here, follow the event on Facebook here and follow the hashtag #poroparlamentti.

See the program below (in Finnish)

Read more…


Loss of Pastures: Balsfjord Power Line Gets Final Approval

May 5, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Last week the Balsfjord to Hammerfest power line received final approval from the Norwegian government (Ministry of Petroleum and Energy). Construction can now begin. This is a major investment by Statnett (3-4 billion NOK) in a 420 Kv power line that will be 360 km long, 40 metres wide and cross 8 municipalities (Statnett).

Balsfjord power line

The route of the Balsfjord power line. Source:

It will cross 30 reindeer herding districts in northern Norway and have dramatic impacts on some districts, according to herders. Herders have been vociferous in their opposition to the project and have asked for it either shelved or that significant route alterations be undertaken, or that areas critically effected could have submarine/underground construction.

Acting Head of NRL, Per John Anti believes the consequences for reindeer herding in the area will be negative.

It will particularly impact on calving country. Research shows that the reindeer avoids areas from one to four kilometers from the disturbance, particularly females with calves. This causes pressure in other areas of these regions.

Read more…


In English: May. In Sámi: Miessemánu, or Reindeer Calf Month.

May 3, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Miessemánu: In northern Sami language, the month of May is called Miessemánu, or ‘reindeer calf month’, and it is this time of year that the cycle of life continues in the world of reindeer herding. For reindeer and herders life starts anew across the Sami area, as reindeer are not only giving birth to new calves but they are on the move, most particularly in Norway and Sweden.

A newborn reindeer calf runs alongside its mother on the Nadym Tundra. Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia.  © Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography / ArcticPhoto

A newborn reindeer calf runs alongside its mother on the Nadym Tundra. Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia. © Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography / ArcticPhoto

In many districts, it is time to leave the winter pastures and travel overland to the summer pastures and Reindeer and their herders are travelling over ancient and well worn migratory paths often to the coast, mainly by walking, sometimes by boat, and occasionally by truck to reach their summer pastures. It is also a dangerous time for reindeer – predators are on the move too, and reindeer calves are food for lynx, wolverine, eagles and some bears and wolves. Many herders lose as many as half of the calves born to their animals, so it is a time for whole families to take part in watching and moving with the herd.

So here’s to Miessemánu, travel safe, arrive alive..


EALLIN Final Report Delivered at Arctic Council Today

April 24, 2015: Iqaluit, Canada


Reindeer Herding Youth Take Action on Arctic Change

Young Reindeer Herders Deliver Strong Message to Arctic Foreign Ministers at the 9th Arctic Council Ministerial in Canada

“For us, the reindeer is everything. If we lose the reindeer we lose our language, our culture, our traditions and the knowledge to move in the nature.”

[Participant at the EALLIN workshop in Jokkmokk, 2013]
A unique project called EALLIN involving reindeer herding youth from Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway has delivered a 120-page report, executive summary and recommendations to the Artic Council Ministerial meeting in Canada today. More than 160 indigenous youth from multiple regions in Russia, Mongolia, Finland, Sweden and Norway participated in 12 community based workskops over four years. “EALLIN” means ‘life’ in the Sami language and the project was backed by Norway, the Russian Federation and the Saami Council. EALLIN calls attention to the serious challenges faced by young reindeer herders, such as mental health, a lack of appropriate education and a lack of participation in local community development.

Reindeer herding youth are the future of reindeer herding, and the strong message from engaged youth was that they wanted to continue herding reindeer, as it ‘a good life’. However, there are many issues and challenges that are making life ‘not so good’ everywhere where reindeer are herded. EALLIN brought young reindeer herders of the taiga and tundra together to bring their voices to the Arctic Council. Reindeer herdings youth in the Circumpolar North are on the frontlines of monitoring the rapid ongoing changes in the Arctic, therefore, their knowledge and skills are key for their future existence in their home pastures and territories.

“Our peoples are undergoing dramatic and historical changes in our homelands, changes that we have never seen in the millenia-old histories of the reindeer herding peoples of the north” states Arctic Council EALLIN Project Lead Dr Mikhail Pogodaev, the Executive Chair of Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH).

“We know enough about the changes to act”, concludes Anders Oskal, Project Co-Lead and Co-Author of the IPCC 5th Report. “We don’t need more assessments to understand, basically, we have to do things differently now if these societies and cultures are to survive and thrive under the Arctic boom – and bust”. And doing things differently is exactly what the EALLIN report calls for.

Delivered to Arctic Council: “Youth – The Future of Reindeer Herding Peoples – Executive Summary” and “Youth – The Future of Reindeer Herding Peoples”, Full Project Report 120 pages,

Downloads available at

Read more…


Reindeer Herders from Norway and Russia Visit Inuvik for Celebration of 80th Anniversary of Canadian Reindeer Husbandry

March 27, 2015 • Alena GerasimovaBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment
Herders in Canada

Photo by Vince Sharpe

Reindeer herders were invited to Inuvik by Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of Canadian Reindeer Husbandry, where they can also share their experience in reindeer herding and food culture, and present exhibition in traditional handicraft.

Read more…


Reindeer Herders’ Day in Iengra, As Seen From a Drone..

March 5, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Reindeer Herders Day Drone ViewDrones are appearing all over the place these days, it is probably only a matter of time before the larger ones become more stringently regulated. In the meantime, here is a nice video made by a drone, of the ‘Reindeer Herders Day’ in Iengra (which took place last week) in the Republic of Sakha Yakutia, Russia. Iengra is nearly 900 km of the regions’ capital Yakutsk. Many Evenki and Eveny herders live in and around the village, and herders from here are part of the Nomadic Herders project.

Reindeer Herders’ days occur all over Russia at this time of year and are a celebration of the profession of reindeer herding and usually there are reindeer races, various competitions, ceremonies and more.


Framtidig reindrift – fra et samisk perspektiv: Konferanse

February 24, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Dávggas, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

SamediggiSametingsrådet inviterer til oppstartskonferanse i forbindelse med sametingsmelding om reindrift 25.-26.02.2015. Sted: Diehtosiida, Kautokeino

På mange måter står reindrifta i 2015 ved et veiskille. 

Utfordringene er mange. Det føres en samfunns- og næringspolitikk som krever nye og større deler av eksisterende reinbeiteområdene. Den økonomiske utviklingen i reindriftsnæringa de siste årene er bekymringsfull, med økende kostnader og nedgang i inntektene. Et økende rovvilttrykk fører til store økonomiske tap og bekymringer.

Samtidig er det viktig å ha framtidstro. Den samiske reindrifta har en lang historie, den har gitt inntekt og liv til mennesker i århundrer. Reindrifta har alle muligheter for å utvikles som en bærekraftig næring samtidig som man holder fast på de dype røttene reindrifta har i den samiske kulturen. Reindrifta er en viktig del av samisk kultur og av det samiske samfunnet. Reindrifta selv og det samiske samfunnet må gå i front på veien som fører til en framtidig og livskraftig næring.

Sametinget skal, sett i forhold til de visjoner og mål vi har for et framtidig samisk samfunn, være med på å utforme de overordnede langsiktige målene og strategiene for reindriftsnæringa. Med en ny Sametingsmelding om reindrift, ønsker Sametingsrådet sammen med næringa å arbeide for en trygg framtid for reindrifta.


Read more…


Arctic Human Development Report Published – Free Download

February 19, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

AHDR IIThe Second Arctic Human Development Report has just been published and can be downloaded for free from this link, published by Norden, the Nordic Council of Ministers. A good deal of the report deals with indigenous peoples, traditional livelihoods and reindeer herding in particular. Download the full report (500 pages) here.

From the abstract:

The goals of the second volume of the AHDR – Arctic Human Development Report: Regional Processes and Global Linkages – are to provide an update to the first AHDR (2004) in terms of an assessment of the state of Arctic human development; to highlight the major trends and changes unfolding related to the various issues and thematic areas of human development in the Arctic over the past decade; and, based on this assessment, to identify policy relevant conclusions and key gaps in knowledge, new and emerging Arctic success stories.

The production of AHDR-II on the tenth anniversary of the first AHDR makes it possible to move beyond the baseline assessment to make valuable comparisons and contrasts across a decade of persistent and rapid change in the North. It addresses critical issues and emerging challenges in Arctic living conditions, quality of life in the North, global change impacts and adaptation, and Indigenous livelihoods.

The assessment contributes to our understanding of the interplay and consequences of physical and social change processes affecting Arctic residents’ quality of life, at both the regional and global scales. It shows that the Arctic is not a homogenous region. Impacts of globalization and environmental change differ within and between regions, between Indigenous and non-Indigenous northerners, between genders and along other axes.


Effects of Reindeer Grazing on the Tundra Examined

December 17, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Maria Vaisanen Phd

Grazing by reindeer (Rangifer tarandus L.) affects vegetation and soil microbial processes in tundra ecosystems. It is considered that grazing can induce two alternative vegetation states that differ in plant species composition and the rate of nutrient cycling. The doctoral dissertation of Master of Science Maria Väisänen shows that the grazing history by reindeer, with the associated vegetation shift from dwarf shrubs to graminoids, can significantly alter the ecosystem-level consequences of climate warming.
The academic dissertation of researcher Maria Väisänen is a part of a research project funded by the Academy of Finland and led by Doctor Sari Stark. The project was working at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland from summer 2012 to summer 2014, as part of the Global Change research group, led by research professor Bruce Forbes.Master of Science Maria Väisänen’s dissertation “Ecosystem-level consequences of climate warming in tundra under differing grazing pressures by reindeer“ was examined on 18th December 2014 in the University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology. The opponent was Professor Philip Wookey from Heriot-Watt University, Great Britain.

Full manuscript can be downloaded here. (source Arctic Centre)

Read more…


Reindeer herders in Russia have a chance to get education!

December 16, 2014 • Alena GerasimovaBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

reindeerThe Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation decided to keep the profession of reindeer herder in the list of specialties in institutions of vocational education. This was recently reported by the chair of the Association of World Reindeer Herders Mikhail Pogodaev.

Read more…


Profession of reindeer herder to be excluded from list of specialties

December 7, 2014 • Svetlana AvelovaBlog, Challenges, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer Herders, UArctic EALAT InstituteLeave a comment

reindeerThis autumn, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation has taken the initiative to exclude about 100 names from the list of specialties of secondary vocational education, including the specialty entitled “technician reindeer herder”.

The reason for this decision is the absence or low enrollment of students for training in specific programs, as well as the fact that “students in secondary vocational education on the basis of secondary education or secondary vocational education study 10 months, which corresponds to the period of training for the professional training program” (from the explanatory note to the draft order of the Ministry of Education and Science).

Read more…


ICR Attends Festival of National Cultures in Saint Petersburg

November 26, 2014 • Svetlana AvelovaBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

фестиваль ИНСOn November 25 the festival of national cultures of the indigenous people of the North, Siberia and the Far East finished its work. The festival is held annually by the Indigenous Peoples Institute of Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia. This event was attended by a professor of the UArctic EALAT Institute Svein Mathiesen and the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry – Anders Oskal, Inger Anita Smuk and Elna Sara.

Read more…


Video of the Reindeer Migration to the Coast, Norway

November 25, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Very nice 7 minute video by Jan Helmer Olsen, a filmmaker based in Karasjok, that follows the reindeer to the coast on their annual migration in early winter to the coast.


Young Sami Herder Wins Big Brother Finland

November 17, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Andte Gaup-JuusoBig news in the Sami region, especially in Finland, was the news that a young Sami herder from Enontekio has won the Finnish version of Big Brother. Big Brother, for those of you who are not aware is a globally syndicated franchise whereby a group of people, dubbed as “housemates”, live together in a large house. During their time in the house they are isolated from the outside world and are not commonly aware of outside events. Contestants are continuously monitored by in-house television cameras as well as personal audio microphones during their stay. Each series lasts for more than three months, with at least ten contestants entering the house. To win the final cash prize contestants either vote each other off the show, or are voted on by the viewing audience. In other words, it is not for the faint hearted, and it makes for hugely popular viewing.

This weekend, Andte Gaup-Juuso, A young Sami reindeer herder was the overwhelming winner of this years version of ‘BB’ in Finland. His plans were as follows – go home, start his snowmobile, go into the mountains and see his reindeer. He also said to the media that the 100,000 Euro(!) will also go into developing his herd.

Read more…


Reindeer Seminar in Rovaniemi Next Week

October 15, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

ReArctic Centre Logoindeer herding and land use management – Nordic perspectives Seminar gathers reindeer herding researchers and experts to Rovaniemi, Finland 19th–21st October 2014. The main focus of the seminar, held in Arktikum, is on is
sues related to reindeer herding and land use questions in the Nordic reindeer herding area. 

Read more…


Shanghai Daily Report on China’s Reindeer Herders

October 9, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Evenki Herder in China

There are not many stories out of China that are about the Evenki reindeer herders that are still practising reindeer husbandry in the North East of the country. The Shanghai Daily has just carried a story on the reindeer herders of China, who number in the tens.

HOHHOT, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — Soon, tribesman Gu Wenqiang will have to bid farewell to his herd of deer, leaving his small shack tucked away in the lush green forests of the Greater Khingan Range.

After more than a month of tending the herd of reindeer, the 36 year old will soon drive from his temporary shelter and return to his hometown of Aoluguya Ewenki located 50 km away. It’s an occurance that’s happening more frequently these days.


For Gu and others from the Aoluguya Ewenki tribe, dubbed “the last hunting tribe of China,” such trips have become routine following the tribe’s relocation to a township near Genhe City, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, from the mountain forests eleven years ago. For a decade, nomadic life has been the only choice to keep their ancient culture alive.

Read more…


Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve

October 6, 2014 • Alena GerasimovaBlog, Challenges, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Ardni Siida reindeer in AutumnAuthorities in Norbotten in northern Sweden have rejected plans to allow mining of iron ore in Kallak near Jokkmokk due to concerns over the impact on traditional reindeer grazing, according to The Local 

The ruling is the second time Norrbotten has foiled Jokkmok Iron Mines AB’s ambitions for the site and furthermore recommended that the Mining Inspectorate confirms the decision in order to protect reindeer herding in the area.

Read more…


‘Mining threatens to eat up northern Europe’s last wilderness’ (The Guardian)

September 15, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

YaraThe Guardian newspaper carried a lengthy article on the explosion of mining in northern Finland, Norway and Sweden. As anyone resident in the region knows, there is a huge minerals exploitation boom underway and many are surprised to learn that this part of the world has very favourable regulations regarding the claims process for mining.  This boom is directly impacting on reindeer pasture loss. To give an idea of the scale of the boom, the article notes that,

So far in 2014, 349 applications for mining permits have been made, of which 243 have been for Finland. Over one-eighth of Finland, an area twice the size of Wales, has now been designated for mining and hundreds of applications for exploration licenses have been received by the government.

Currently in the Finnish media, attention is being paid to the massive open pit mine planned for the Sokli area,

Fertiliser company Yara International plans a massive 40-60 sq km open-cast phosphorus mine near Sokli in eastern Lapland between the Urho Kekkonen national park and the Värriö nature park. Billions of gallons of polluted waste water would have to be be drained, via pristine lakes and rivers, and millions of tonnes of waste would be created every year.

You can read one of Yara Internationals presentations on the mine here.



Might Sanctions Against Russia Help Reindeer Herders?

September 11, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Reindeer MeatWith the broadening of sanctions being applied on both sides of the current dispute between Russia and NATO members over the current conflict in Ukraine, there might be a silver lining for domestic producers of meat, such as reindeer herders in Russia as imports of US meat and poultry is halted. The state run importer of foodstuffs in Chukotka (Chukotopttorg) has announced that it will be turning to reindeer meat so that local schools, hospitals and institutions are able to meet their needs, according to various reports (see here for a story from the Siberian Times, and here from the Moscow Times.

One does wonder however, why it has taken so long?


Those Big Holes in Yamal

September 3, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Herder in front of Yamal Methane HoleOne of the stories of the summer was the sudden appearance of large holes in the Yamal Peninsula, the largest single area of reindeer husbandry and also the site of mega gas extraction, making the region critically important for the Russian state. The fact that Yamal translates as ‘the end of the land’, was fodder for conspiracy theorists and alien believers.

Some alarming articles appeared suggesting that this may well be a sign of the end of days. However, more serious articles (e.g. a Nature piece you can read here and a piece on the Alaska Dispatch News here) attributed the holes to a build up of methane from thawing permafrost  according to a Russian team investigating the sites, offering the abnormally warm summers of  2012 and 2013 on Yamal as a possible explanation. Of course this is of interest to the Reindeer Portal as some of the holes were discovered by reindeer herders, some of whom took pictures of themselves by these other worldly looking holes.

Either way, the appearance of these holes are a concern for us all and will be watched closely by herders and scientists alike in the future. A great series of photos from the sites are on the Siberian Times here and a video which you can see below.

Read more…


September is Back to School – For Herders of the Tundra too

September 2, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Nearly everywhere, children are heading back to school, also children of reindeer herders who are working on the tundra. It is a difficult time for all children – holidays are over, but it is especially difficult for children who live and work on the tundra as they will be leaving their families and life on the tundra for up to 9 months at a time. This has major repercussions for the transmission of knowledge on reindeer herding from generation to generation.

This has just occurred on the Yamal peninsula, the largest single area of reindeer husbandry in the world and it is a major undertaking, where up 3500 young people are transported to larger urban areas for schooling. (see here for a news piece in Russian)


Voice of a young reindeer herder about nomadic family

June 2, 2014 • Alena GerasimovaChallenges, EALLIN, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment
Igor is hunting in taiga. Photo by Yuri Kokovin

Facing the second reading of the draft law “On Nomadic Family” in June 2014 in Yakutsk, we decided to publish a short article where young reindeer herder from Iengra village (south of Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russia) expresses his concern about reindeer herding families and the future of traditional knowledge:

Read more…


Reindeer herders in Yakutia talk about the Law “On Nomadic Family”

Alena GerasimovaChallenges, Projects, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment
maria pogodaeva (c) YASIA

Maria Pogodaeva. Photo by YASIA

The draft law “On Nomadic Family” was adopted in the first reading on April 14, 2010. Now, four years have passed. In June this year, the Standing Committee on Arctic Indigenous Peoples of the State Assembly (Il Tumen) of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) will introduce a revised draft for the second reading. The Working Group of this project included scientists, representatives of public indigenous organizations, ministries and departments.

Read more…


Reindeer on the Move – Beautiful Time Lapse Video

May 24, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Many reindeer herders in Northern Norway use old Norwegian Navy landing craft to ferry reindeer every year to their summer pastures on various islands in Troms and Finnmark counties. Norwegian photographer Jan Olsen has shot this stunning time lapse video of reindeer migrating to their summer pastures. 


Traditional life in the Siberian Arctic – in pictures

May 2, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Chukchi HerderPhotographer Bryan Alexander has travelled Siberia documenting the lives of the Chukchi, Dolgan, Even, Khanty, Komi, Nenets, and Nganasan people, showing their traditional camps, transportation and dress, as well as activities such as herding, hunting and fishing. ‘Whisper of the Stars: Traditional Life in the Arctic’ Siberia is at the Horniman Museum in London, till September 2014.

See more pictures here


Russia: Khanty take action to stop road construction through sacred site by oil company

April 30, 2014 • Alena GerasimovaChallenges, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

aif_yugra1Oil workers are trying unsuccessfully to extend a road to an oil field through a sacred lichen grove and Khanty ancestral lands 180 km from Nizhnevartovsk.

Read more…


Lost in Tundra: Story with a Happy Ending

April 22, 2014 • Alena GerasimovaReindeer HerdersLeave a comment

sami reindeer herderIf you just like happy ending stories, that’s what you will find here! A group of young people got lost in the tundra,and they were saved by a Sámi reindeer herder.

Read more…


The Last Camping Ground – Khanty Herders Struggles With Lukoil

March 30, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Extensive article by Georgy Borodyansky, an Omsk-based correspondent for Novaya Gazeta which looks at the difficulties facing reindeer herders in the Khanty–Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (KhMAO) in western Siberia which is a major oil producing region.

Executives at petrochemical giant Lukoil are accustomed to conquering time and space from their computers in their glass and concrete skyscrapers. But they have encountered an unexpected problem: a family of reindeer herders is resisting the corporation’s takeover of its ancestral camping ground in the Khanty–Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (KhMAO) in western Siberia. From the window of their skyscraper, it’s just about the end of the earth.

The Aipin family, like most of northern Russia’s indigenous peoples, live on top of the so-far inexhaustible mineral resources that literally underlie the prosperity of not only the oil companies but of Russia itself, with its Olympic Games, summits, forums and Forbes List ratings. The area produces over half of Russia’s oil, but the Khanty themselves have no need of this black gold gushing from below the land where their ancestors have lived for more than a thousand years. What they need is the forests and the white snow that, as the great Kola Beldy, himself from the Nanai indigenous people, used to sing, ‘melts on the horizon into the white sky’; lichen for their herds in the winter and berries and mushrooms in the summer.

Read the full article here on Open Democracy Russia



Minister Jan Tore Sanner’s message from the seminar on Global Change and Traditional Knowledge

March 26, 2014 • Alena GerasimovaBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Jan Tore SannerMarch 25, Kautokeino (Norway). Minister Jan Tore Sanner, Ministry of Local Government and Modernization of Norway, participated in the international seminar “Global Change, Community-based Observing Systems and Co-production of Knowledge for the Circumpolar North” . The minister had an opening speech at the seminar, also his message to the participants of the seminar was posted on the official web-site of the government and ministries:

“Dear participants!

I am happy to be here in Kautokeino and to open this conference on Traditional knowledge, Arctic Indigenous Peoples and Reindeer Herding.

Read more…


Reindeer die offs continue in Yamal region (Russia)

March 19, 2014 • Alena GerasimovaChallenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Yamal reindeer loss 2014Wednesday, 19th of March. Reindeer continue dying. Yamal region needs help to get out of this catastrophic situation. Because of the ice crust unfortunate animals simply cannot get to the lichen. As a result dozens of reindeer corpses spread all over the tundra. On the way to the ‘Yarsalinskoe’ enterprise: shocking scenes are practically on every hundred meters. Reindeer which exhausted from hunger just lie down in the snow and fall asleep and been a very easy capture for predators. The director of Yarsalinskoe enterprise Liliya Yakubova said that currently enterprise has lost about 5-6 thousand of reindeer, but no one can give the real number for now.  

Read more…


Stunning Drone View of Reindeer Corral

March 4, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

When speaking of drones, military uses spring to mind. This is changing however and their shrinking size and falling prices have meant that people are using drones for an increasingly wide range of activities. Ovttas ( commissioned Luftfoto Finnmark to film a reindeer roundup at a corral just south of Kautokeino using a drone. The results are stunning. See below..



Indigenous youth in Kamchatka (Russia) urged to work in reindeer husbandry

February 26, 2014 • Alena GerasimovaBlog, Challenges, EALLIN, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

olenevody_kamchatkiAccording to local administration, young indigenous people in the North of Russia – Kamchatka, participated in a meeting devoted to occupational guidance. The meeting was conducted by Valentina Bronevich, vice-chairman of the Government of Kamchatka region. The main issue to discuss was to promote youth employment in reindeer husbandry of the region.

The meeting gathered around 30 participants, among them were residents from Khailino village, Apuka village, Ossora village and Srednie Pakhachi village. All the participants expressed their interest and concern about salary of reindeer herders, issues of education and employment into reindeer husbandry, and measures of state and local administration support for those who choose this profession for themselves.

Natalia Nitsenko, the head of Employment and Migration Policy Department of Kamchatskiy region, Vladimir Kleymenov, head of “PO Kamchatolenprom” enterprise, and representatives of regional ministries and departments of Kamchatskiy region were answering to the questions addressed by young people.


A Young Herder Laments the Loss of a Friend

February 25, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

The internet in the Sami area has lit up in the last week due to the special performance of a young South Sami reindeer herder from Sweden. Jon Henrik Fjällgren is a participant in Talang Sverige, a Swedish version of American Idol.

He joiks his best friend Daniel, who tragically lost his life in an accident. It is an exquisite tribute to his friend, very moving and beautifully done. In only one week it has been viewed over 150,000 times.


The Language of Snow (UNESCO)

February 23, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersComments (1)

(Source: UNESCO) Local communities develop nuanced systems of knowledge specific to their natural surroundings. The Sami language is a prime example of that intimate relationship between the physical environment and language. Located in the Arctic, Sami reindeer herders have developed a sophisticated terminology to describe their unique and variable milieu, which reveals interrelated-aspects of the impacts of climate change.

Sami reindeer herding is practiced in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. One of the centres for herding, in Guovdageaidnu (Kautokeino), Northern Norway, involves 1,700 people and 93,500 reindeer. Snow covers the ground more than seven months of the year and reindeer survival is dependent on the ability to access
lichen through the snow. Given the extremely variable conditions of the Arctic, the Sami must make timely strategic decisions to ensure the herd’s well-being.

Read more…


Tories offered up land reserved for Arctic reindeer for oil and gas exploration: documents

February 21, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

(Source: Globe and Mail, Canada) Tracts of land that had been set aside for reindeer grazing in Canada’s North have instead been offered up by the Conservative government for oil and gas exploration, newly released documents show.

Companies interested in obtaining petroleum exploration rights in the Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea region of the Northwest Territories were asked last year to nominate blocks of land that they wanted to see included in a subsequent call for bids.

Reindeer-grazing reserves near the communities of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk were among the lands that were included in that call for nominations, pending a necessary amendment to an order-in-council imposed in 2010.

Documents show officials at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada have discussed just such an amendment in order to allow the reindeer-grazing land to be included in the bidding for exploration licences.

“Most Crown lands in the Mackenzie Delta are withdrawn from disposal under an order-in-council to allow for a reindeer-grazing reserve,” says a briefing note to a top department official from last August.

Read more…


Artists boycott Swedish market over mining-reindeer conflict (SR Radio)

February 8, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Thursday was Sami National Day, celebrated internationally by indigenous people of the European Arctic, including in Sweden.

It was also the time when the annual Jokkmokk Winter Market, with a history over 400 years old, started in the far north of Sweden, just above the Arctic Circle. But the market is not without its controversies, and several artists are boycotting this year due to disputes over the possible establishment of a mine in Kallak, located in the municipality of Jokkmokk.

A handful of artists, designers and culture workers who were originally planning to participate in the Jokkmokk Market have announced their decision to boycott.

Read more…


Mining Reindeer Pastures, Sweden (ABC)

February 7, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Perth based mining company Hannans Reward is hoping to develop open cut mines in Sweden’s north. But as Verica Jokic writes Indigenous communities argue the mines will endanger their traditional way of life. (Source ABC Bush Telegraph)

Hannans Reward is undertaking several exploratory operations near a town called Kiruna to see if it can proceed with open pit iron-ore, copper and gold mines.

But the location of the proposed mines is on Indigenous Saami land and critical reindeer herding habitats.

The Saami say the mines will threaten their millennia old culture and they’ve started a campaign to stop the Australian company.

Mats Berg is a representative of the Laevas and Girjas Saami Communities in Sweden’s north.

He says the new mines will cut the Saami communities in half, leave 20,000 reindeer without grazing lands, and directly affect the animals’ migratory path.

Read more…


In Yamal region reindeer lose weight, there are some cases of animals death

January 23, 2014 • Svetlana AvelovaBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

First Deputy Director of the Department for the indigenous peoples of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Eduard Yaungad commented difficult situation in Yamal and Priuralsky districts.

He explained that kind of situation occurres periodically on the Yamal Peninsula, for example, similar situation was observed fifteen years ago and it was in general connected with weather conditions.

Read more…


Det ignorerte arktiske folk

Alena GerasimovaBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Arctic frontiersOriginal source: NRK

Det er høyt under taket i festsalen i rødbanken i Tromsø. Og lysekronene som duver under den dekorerte himlingen ser tunge ut. Skulle de løsne fra taket de har hengt fra det siste hundre året, burde man ikke sittet under de.

En som likevel sitter under disse monumentale belysningsanordningene denne småkalde januardagen i Norden Paris, er Mikhail Pogodaev. Han er dog ikke alene, men han skiller seg ut fra den grådresskledde forsamlingen, der han sitter i sin røde drakt sydd under en annen himmel lenger øst.

Read more…


Reindeer go hungry as mild Swedish winter bites (The Local)

January 21, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

The mild winter even in Sweden’s northern areas has led to a record number of Sami reindeer herders filing requests for emergency food aid.

The situation looks really bad,” says Soren Långberg at the Sami Parliament to the TT news agency.

So far, 22 Sami districts requested disaster assistance from the Sami Parliament, which is considered the highest number in seven years and the pile of applications is expected to grow.
The mild winter, with alternating snow, thaw and rain, has created deep ground frost and the impenetrable ice which makes it very hard for the reindeer to get to food, according to several media sources.
The Sami way of life faces a growing number of natural and man-made threats.
The Local reported in December that mining companies are seeking to exploit the resources of northern Sweden, leaving the Samis wondering how much longer they can continue to graze their animals.
The Samis, the only indigenous people in the EU, number roughly 80,000 people who inhabit a huge swathe of land stretching from Norway across Sweden and Finland to Russia.


Tags: ,

Halal Reindeer Meat in Norway, Reindeer Meat Consumption Up in Finland

December 3, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Reindeer MeatA specialty slaughter house in Norway is going to produce Halal reindeer meat for the first time in Norway. Harry Dyrstad, owner of specialist wildlife abattoir Vilteksperten, north of Trondheim, enlisted the help of a certified halal butcher and has 100 reindeer ready to be sent off to the shops. The butcher has had interest from as far afield as Dubai, and he is looking forward to bringing reindeer to the previously unexplored Muslim market. There is also the growing potential for the local market too. See story here (in Norwegian).

Meanwhile, in Finland, Producers have turned down orders from Germany, France and Spain because they are already struggling to cater for the domestic market, according to YLE.  Declining production means Finnish herders will reportedly sell fewer than 80,000 animals for slaughter this year. Prices are expected to rise as the surge in interest continues. A recent request from a German company for 100,000 animals was refused because there are not that many to be slaughtered in the whole of Finland, according to reports. Some processors are already importing carcasses from Russia to help meet demand.


Al Jazeera Film on Impacts of Mining Boom in Sweden, Norway

November 30, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Kallok ProtestThe Al Jazeera news network has released a fascinating 25 minute documentary by filmaker Glenn Ellis that looks specifically at the impacts of massive increase in mining activity in Sweden and Finland and includes segments from the ongoing controversial mining proposal by Beowulf on reindeer herding pastures in Sweden.

Europe’s far north is a place of spectacular beauty, of mountains and forests, lakes and rivers, illuminated in winter by the ethereal glow of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.
It is also home to an astonishing array of plants and animals which have survived largely thanks to the indigenous people of the area – the Sami.
To this day many Sami follow herds of free-roaming reindeer, maintaining a tradition that has helped preserve their ancient environment into the 21st century.
But in recent years a new species has arrived: the multinational mining company. Keen to exploit the region’s extraordinarily rich mineral deposits, the industry is being welcomed by Scandinavian governments who want to share in the bounty of jobs and income they promise to bring. But the Sami feel that their way of life and the remarkable natural world they inhabit are being put under threat. So they have been fighting back.

Read the full article on Al Jazeera here and you can watch the documentary below


Olympic Flame Gets Up Close With Reindeer

November 16, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Olympic Flame & ReindeerThere has been a lot of media coverage of the travels of the Olympic Flame for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics such as to North Pole and even to the International Space Station for a space walk as it traverses the vastness of Russia. Less attention was paid to the fact that the flame had encounters with reindeer in not only one region of Russia but two – the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the Nenets Autonous Okrug. In Sakha, the torch travelled on the back of a reindeer sledge while near Naryan Mar, the torch went for a run with a large herd of reindeer. No word yet if reindeer herding to be accepted as an Olympic sport….

Here is the video of the visit to the herd near Naryan Mar and below, a photo of the flame on the back of a reindeer sledge

Read more…


70 years after Mandalada – the Nenets movement against collectivization in the tundra

November 11, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Chum site from the airVery interesting article about the little known Nenets rebellion against the collectivisation process initiated by the Soviet Union as it happened on the Yamal Peninsula.  The article is by Roza Laptander who  is one of the board members of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry and is a Nenets academic who grew up on the Yamal Peninsula.  She holds a PhD from Saint-Petersburg Institute of the Northern People, Russian Federation. Her spheres of her research include sociolinguistics, the Nenets language, ethnography, linguistic anthropology, socio-cultural changes, and multicultural and language contacts. She is currently engaged in the ORHELIA (“Oral History of Empires by Elders in the Arctic”) project where she works with Nenets reindeer herders in the Yamal Peninsula, their traditional knowledge and oral history about the past and Nenets reaction to present life in conditions of intensive development and industrialization of their traditional territories.

Read more…


New Photo Galleries on the Reindeer Portal

November 1, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Chum site from the airWe have added a new series of photo galleries to the Reindeer Portal. Entitled ‘Scenes from Reindeer Husbandry’ we have started with image sets from four of the largest regions of reindeer herding in Eurasia:  Sapmi, the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug and the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).  We will be continually adding images to these galleries and adding more galleries from the smaller regions of reindeer husbandry such as in the Taiga and elsewhere.

You can view the galleries here


WRH Highlighted at Northern Forum General Assembly, Moscow

October 30, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Northern Forum 2013At the Northern Forum General Assembly in Moscow last week, the importance of the collaborative work of the Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) was highlighted by one of the key speakers, Mikhail Nikolaev. The General Assembly was attended by the President of Yakutia Yegor Borisov , the Minister of Regional Development of the Russian Federation Igor Slyunyaev , leaders and representatives from 16 regions of Iceland , the Republic of Korea, Japan, Finland, Sweden, the Russian Federation and many more. Also on the agenda is Arctic Agenda 2020: the possibility of cooperation between the Northern Forum and the Global Environment Facility ( GEF) (see Arctic Info).

Nikolaev highlighted how cultural cooperation between Arctic residents can proceed to economic interactions and noted the establishment of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) was established thanks to the international work of WRH and noted ICR’s work in promoting this ancient livelihood in modern times.

You can read the full speech here (in Russian). Nikolaev is a Deputy of the Duma and member of the State Duma Committee on Regional Policy and the North and the Far East.


China Daily Posts Extensive Article on Evenki Reindeer Herders of Aoluguya

October 21, 2013 • Philip Burgess5 WRHC, Blog, Challenges, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Maria SuoChina Daily, the widest print circulation of any English-language newspaper in the China (over 500,000 copies per issue, of which a third are abroad) has just published an extensive article on the Evenki herders of Aoluguya, near Genhe, in Inner Mongolia. The article features m,any of the same people who were active participants and attendees at this years 5th World Reindeer Herders Congress which was held on their territory for the first time. The article outlines the struggles this reindeer people have faced since their relocation from the forests closer to the city of Genhe and the loss of their rifles. The Congress is mentioned in the article as is the Aoluguya Declaration. With only 20 families remaining to live with their reindeer, the future for the livelihood is painted as being rather bleak in this article.

You can read the article below, or on the China Daily website here.

Read more…


Aoluguya Declaration from World Reindeer Herders Congress Published

The culminating document from the World Reindeer Herders’ Congress is the final Declaration. Following the completion of the 5th World Reindeer Herders Congress in China, the final Declaration from this Congress has now been released.

The Declaration is an extremely important document for reindeer herders worldwide and represents in words their unique cooperation and also gives guidance to the priorities for the Association of World Reindeer Herders over the next four years.

This time around special attention was paid in the Declaration to the challenges facing Taiga reindeer husbandry and notes that taiga reindeer herding is under a threat of disappearing in China, Mongolia and such regions of Russia as Irkutskaya Oblast, Sakhalinskaya Oblast, Buryatia Republic, Khabarovsky krai, Tuva Republic, Amurskaya Oblast and others, and that the situation is still critical and needs urgent attention. The Nomadic Herders project was highlighted as having an important role to play in this critical situation. Other key themes included communication and information, the health of reindeer herders, globalisation and collaboration, pastures and biodiversity, youth, knowledge , research and education. You can read and download the full declaration below (in English)

Read more…


Watch Helena Omma’s Presentation from Arctic Futures Symposium

Hellena Omma at Arctic FuturesHelena Omma was a keynote speaker to the Arctic Futures symposium that was held in Brussels yesterday (October 16, 2013). The entire day was broadcast live on the web and we have captured her presentation and can share it with you here. Her presentation was entitled  ‘Reconciling land use conflicts with reindeer herding communities with economic development in the Arctic’. Besides introducing the audience to the world of reindeer herding, she discussed the ongoing situation facing herders in northern Sweden where extensive mining activities are planned on reindeer pastures and she also touched on the EALLIN project.

You can watch the video (17 minutes, in English) below.

Read more…


Norway’s Next Prime Minister Officially Opened ICR in 2005

October 8, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Erna SolbergErna Solberg who has been leader of the Conservative Party since 2004, is expected to take office as the Prime Minister of Norway on 14 October 2013, after a centre-right coalition won a majority in the 2013 parliamentary elections.

She has served as a member of the Storting since 1989 and served as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development in Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik’s second Cabinet from 2001 to 2005. After winning the elections, she will be the second female Prime Minister of Norway after Gro Harlem Brundtland.

The International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry has a strong historical connection with the incoming Prime Minister. While she was serving under Prime Minister Bondevik as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, she officially opened the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry via videoconference in Kautokeino in 2005. You can watch her opening speech below (in Norwegian).


New Government Signals Changes in Northern Norway

Solberg_Jensen 2013Norway’s Conservative leader Erna Solberg said she would form a minority cabinet with the populist Progress Party after talks with two centrist parties broke down on Monday, giving ground on oil exploration and immigration. Solberg agreed to give up plans to drill for oil in several promising Arctic areas and also agreed to tighten asylum policies to win the support of her eventual coalition partner and the outside backing of the centrist Liberals and Christian Democrats.

“We were very close to finding good solutions… This is the second best option,” said Solberg, who is set to become Norway’s second female premier after winning elections earlier this month. “This is not the end of cooperation between the four parties.”

She now faces a difficult alliance with the right wing, anti-immigration Progress Party, which will enter government for the first time. Since it was founded in 1973, and until now, mainstream parties had considered it too radical for power. “We can’t hide the fact that we are very pleased with the immigration issues here. We have got a fairly strong tightening,” said Progress leader Siv Jensen, who is likely to become finance minister when the government takes office Oct 18.

The new coalition have signalled an intention to change their policies in northern Norway, which may impact reindeer husbandry, relations with the Sami parliament and the mining industry.

Read more…


Mining Dispute in Northern Sweden Intensifies – Video

September 30, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Beowulf MIning ProjectsLong article posted on Barents Observer today on the ongoing dispute between Swedish Sami reindeer herders and others and Beowulf  Mining and their supporters. Beowulf plan to mine a remote peninsula (Kallak, see our previous post on this story here) which Sami reindeer herders have used as pasturage for generations. The article features interviews with both opponents and proponents of the mine. Kallak will cost roughly $900 million to build and generate around $2.9 billion in revenue over its 15-year lifespan, according to company records.

The costs include the construction of a tailings facility, new roads and, potentially, a railroad spur connecting the site to an existing rail line that would carry the ore to ports on the Baltic Sea and Norwegian coast, where it would be shipped to steel plants in northern Europe and used in the production of everything from cars and ships to electronics and paper clips.

Sami herders insist the new infrastructure and mining activity would block two routes used by reindeer to migrate from summer pastures in the mountains north of Kallak to winter grazing land in the forested valley south of Jokkmokk.

A short video accompanies the article which you can view below and which includes a short interview with a Sami reindeer herder, Jonas Vannar.

Read more…


Conservatives Win in Norway – What Will It Mean for Reindeer Herders?

September 26, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Erna Solberg

Very interesting post on Eye onthe Arctic and also posted on the Foreign Policy Blogs by Mia Bennet. She takes a look at what the victory of the Conservative Party might mean for northern Norway.  The Conservatives, however, did not win enough seats to form a majority government. Headed by new Prime Minister Erna Solberg, they will likely ally with the populist, anti-immigrant Progress Party, which won 29 seats. The Conservatives will probably also have to work with the two small, centrist parties, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals. VG has excellent  infographics illustrating the election results.

Bennet also looks specifically at what the Conservative victory might mean for reindeer herders.

From her post,

Read more…


Reindeer Husbandry & Barents 2030 Report Now Available in Russian

September 9, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, ICR/WRH, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersComments (2)

Barents 2030A translation of the report ‘Reindeer Husbandry and Barents 2030’ prepared by the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, in collaboration with NORUT, UNEP-GRID Arendal and others.. This report was commissioned by StatoilHydro ASA and undertaken by ICR. StatoilHydro commissioned four parallel scenario reports for the Barents Region on respectively climate change, socio-economic consequences, environmental issues and reindeer husbandry.The joint project was initiated as part of StatoilHydro’s preparations or a strategic action plan for future oil and gas developments in the High North.

You can read the report in English here and read/download the Russian translation below.

Read more…


Upcoming Conference: Optimising Production in Reindeer Husbandry

September 5, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Reindeer production conferenceThe conference ‘Optimising Production in Reindeer Husbandry’ has been announced and will take place in the University of Tromso, October 23-4. The main topics of the conference are
• Reindeer production and its natural basis – reindeer and pastures, climate
change, and impact of large predators.
• Reindeer husbandry related to social and administrative structures
• Reindeer herding facing new land use activities

The conference is being organised by the Norwegian Joint Committee for Agricultural and Food Research, Bioforsk and the Nordic Association of Agricultural Scientists. More information and registration here.


Mining on Reindeer Pastures in Sweden Attracts International Attention

August 30, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Mining Protest BeowulfThe ongoing case of mining company Beowulf’s plans to start a large iron ore mine near the town of Jokkmokk in northern Sweden, which will directly impact reindeer herders in the region has been a major news item in Sweden (The Local) and in the Sami media (NRK Sami) for the past few weeks. Now, coverage has gone international.

Major news agencies have picked up the story (AP and UPI) which has seen the story carried by the Washington Post, Fox News, ABC News and more.


“The Swedish Government Has Abandoned Us”

August 28, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Kallok Protest“Beowulf Mining has broken all ethical rules. They have refused to talk to the Sami people, the local community and the reindeer herders as such. They have chosen to use power in order to get their way through. They have called for the Swedish police to use violence against peaceful protesters”, says Lars Anders Baer.

(Article from Barents Observer) Sami activists protesting the British company Beowulf Mines attempts to start blasting for Iron in Kallak were cleaned away by Swedish police.

“You can`t image how it feels standing there behind police road blocks with you hat in your hand, when all you want is to make sure your reindeers are safe. It is humiliating and surreal. The Swedish government has abandoned us,” says Henrik Blind to Barentsobserver. He is a Sami spokesman and local politician.

Wednesday the first explosives were detonated in Kallok where Sweden`s indigenous Sami population herd their reindeers.

Artworks made by Sami artists were bulldozed and about 50 peaceful activists were forced to disperse. 10 people were carried away by police officers.

“It made a huge impression when one of the protesters doused himself with gasoline and threatened to set himself ablaze. Our local Sami politican, Hanna Sofie Utsi, was singing (joiking) while carried away”, says Blind.

The reindeer herders were not given an opportunity to gather the animals still grazing in the area.

“It was brutal. It is impossible for me to describe how it feels in words. We have used this territory for thousands of years. The Swedish government is giving away the very basis of our existence to a foreign company”.

Read more…


Visiting the Reindeer Herders of Kanin

June 24, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Reindeer inside CampStephan Dudeck is an anthropologist based at the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi, Finland. His current research is part of the Orhelia projet – Oral History of Empires by Elders in the Arctic. He writes a blog that covers lots of aspects of his work – a recent posting is a report from his visit to the reindeer herders of the 7th brigade of the Kanin reindeer herding cooperative, in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. At the time of his visit the camp was situated some 16 km from the village of Karepole near the river Laka one of the tributaries of the river Kuloi. Interesting photos and insights. Read the full posting here. Also here is an earlier posting covers his visit to the tundra during the summer of last year.


Herding on Thin Ice: Unique Thesis on Challenges Facing Reindeer Husbandry in Finnmark Published

Tracie Curry Thesis ScreenshotTracie Curry recently defended her Masters thesis in Landscape Architecture at Harvard University, entitled Herding on Thin Ice – An Excercise in Resilience and Adaptive Strategy. Interested in learning more about the drivers of change and development in the Arctic, and the impacts that these developments were having not only on the landscape but also the people who depend on these landscapes for survival, Curry was drawn to Finnmark and  reindeer herding. For her topic, Curry looked closely at the case of Hammerfest, located on Kvaløya Island in the Finnmark region of northern Norway where families of herders are currently struggling to maintain their traditions in the face of multiple development threats. In her words,

Read more…


Borderstories: What does the Arctic Energy Rush Mean on the Ground

June 13, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersComments (2)

Borderstories ScreenshotNorthern Norway is bracing itself for the energy and mineral rush that is affecting the entire Arctic. Development plans, mining projects, LNG plants, offshore oil drilling plans are all swirling around the region as the rush for Arctic resources progresses. A fascinating website has been launched by Trine Hamran, a journalist, documentarist and social anthropologist who has a passion for the region. Border Stories is a venue for very different northerners to relate their stories in first person to give context to what this rush for development means for people on the ground.

When our politicians speak about resources, they speak about oil, gas and minerals. Not people. When they say we need more knowledge, they mean higher education. And when they say higher education, they mean studies relevant for the industry sector. Not studies to strengthen identity, language or critical thinking. (Borderstories)

One of those featured is Mariann Wollmann Magga, a reindeer herder and member of the Sami Parliament who lives near Kirkenes, one of the development hotspots of this newly envisioned resource region. The calving grounds of her families reindeer is an area that has been mooted as a possible site for an LNG plant.


Young Sami Reindeer Herders on UN Radio

June 6, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

UN Radio Logo

Reindeer herding is one of the cornerstones of Sami culture and Sami reindeer herding is practiced across the three Nordic countries and North West Russia. Every year, various Sami organisations send represntatives to the United Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. This year, two young members of the Sami Reindeer Herders Association of Norway were in attendence and spoke to UN Radio about the challenges facing reindeer herders in Norway today. You can listen to Berit Marie Lise Eira, leader of the organization’s youth committee and Eva Jaama in their interview with UN Radio here


‘Canadian Reindeer’ Looking for an Experienced Reindeer Herder

Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Inuvialuit Sami herdersWhen people think of reindeer and reindeer herding, they generally think of Scandinavia and Russia, and with good reason, this being where the vast majority of reindeer and herders are to be found. However, reindeer herding has been practiced in Canada since 1935, with the arrival of reindeer that were imported to Canada via Alaska from Norway during the ‘Reindeer Project‘ in the Mackenzie Delta where it is still practiced today by the descendents of those early reindeer herding pioneers.

Canadian Reindeer, the company that operates reindeer herding there today is looking for (in the words of Lloyd Binder) a ‘Chief Herder-Trainee’ to learn the country and take over a herd of 4,000 during a 3-year period. Contact


Spring – A Time for Herders and Herds to Migrate

May 9, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer HerdersLeave a comment

Reindeer Antlers Ardni SiidaAcross 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:

Read more…