Inupiaq Eskimo

Reindeer Husbandry in Alaska has its roots in the purchase of 1280 reindeer from the Chukchi in Russia as part of a US government plan to provide a source of economic development and meat for the indigenous inhabitants, the Inupiaq. In 1894, Sami herders were brought to the Seward Peninsula in 1894,which brought increased commercialization and a large increase in numbers (over 600,000 by 1932). The economic depression, protectionism in the lower 48 states, confusion over ownership, predation and the loss of reindeer to caribou saw a sharp decline in the ensuing decades. Sami involvement ended in this period. Currently there are approximately 10000 reindeer managed by 21 herders who are members of the Kawerak Reindeer Herders Association who practice an extensive management style of herding. Reindeer in this region are relatively sedentary and do not make long migrations. Currently the entire Seward and Baldwin Peninsulas are designated as reindeer pastures along with St. Lawrence Island and areas near Shaktoolik and Stebbins. The Canadian government initiated their Reindeer Project in the 1920’s, and by mid 1930, reindeer had been brought from Alaska to the Mackenzie Delta. Sami families from Norway were brought to train herding practices and to this day, Inuvialuit and Sami descendents of the Reindeer Project, herd approximately 3-4000 reindeer near Inuvik locally owned and managed by the Kunnek Resource Development Corporation.

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