May 22, 2015 • Philip Burgess
One of the deliveries of the Arctic Council SDWG project EALÁT Information was the creation of a 30 minute documentary entitled “EALÁT – People and Reindeer in a Changing Climate’ which gave a broad overview of the various work packages of the EALÁT scientific project and in addition the community workshops held with herders across Eurasia to discuss climate change and traditional knowledge. You can now watch the whole documentary on You Tube here. The documentary was created by the Interntional Centre for Reindeer Husbandry.
February 26, 2014 • Alena Gerasimova
According 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.
December 9, 2010 • Philip Burgess
The World Society for the Protection of Animals has added their voice to what seems certain to to become an annual right of passage – animals rights organisations using the Christmas season to raise their own profile with media friendly releases about the ‘mistreatreatment’ of reindeer by reindeer herders. Another organisation, VIVA, launched a similar campaign a few weeks ago, noted here on the Reindeer Blog. WSPA have launched their campaign with a website and a video featuring video footage of a reindeer roundup in the corral, earmarking, antler cutting and the killing of reindeer with the curved knife.
WSPA urge people to write a protest letter to the Nordic Council of Ministers, highlighting material such as,
Despite legislation to the contrary, the footage obtained by WSPA shows how the reindeer are forced through a process that prohibits their natural behaviour in several ways. The reindeer, used to roaming free in the wilderness with no prior contact with human beings, panic visibly and attempt to flee as they are herded in massive groups of well over a hundred reindeer, by groups of men, some on snowmobiles.
The animals’ distress continues to increase as they are forced into corrals, have their ears mutilated and left to bleed, and in more than one instance visible on film, get mishandled as they desperately resist being loaded onto trucks for transport to slaughterhouses.
See their protest site and video here.
If there is a lesson in this for reindeer herders, it might be to be careful of visitors to reindeer round ups bearing cameras…
November 30, 2010 • Philip Burgess
A Russian film has picked up the top honors at an international film festival in Bulgaria highlighting the best work on extreme sports, adventure and mountains.
The award-winning documentary about reindeer herders in the Polar Urals beat 80 films from 27 other countries.
“Nyarma” by Edgar Bartenev focuses on the Nenets people, their customs, family relations, lifestyle, as well as the unique tradition of reindeer herding.
The main character in the documentary is a young Nenets guy who, following the tragic death of his father, becomes the owner of a large herd of 3000 reindeer.
Gosha has to take responsibility not only for his family but for the entire neighborhood – the Polar Ural, according to tradition.
Capturing the spellbound beauty of the landscape, the documentary gives a deep insight into the nature of the indigenous people of the North, moving herds of reindeer.
The St Petersburg-based filmmaker, whose famous teacher was maverick director Alexey German, was quoted as saying that his first trip to the North was when he worked as a doctor in an intensive care unit. He was blown away by the Nenets’ permanent state of enthusiasm and their attitude towards each other, their deer and dogs.
“Relations between the people are amazing. I’ve never seen a husband screaming at his wife or offending his children. The Nenets never beat animals,” Bartenev was quoted as saying.
Watch a trailer here:
November 23, 2010 • Philip Burgess
Nenets 'chum' from Yamal, Pic: Francis Latreille
A ‘chum’, the traditional though still in use every day dwelling of the reindeer herding Nenets on the Yamal Peninsula, will be making a guest appearance at one Russia’s busiest airport: Moscow’s Sheremetyevo.
This marks the kick off of a series of events in the nations capital celebrating the life and culture of the worlds greatestest region of reindeer husbandry, the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The exhibit will present items of everyday life, patterns of national art, art-works of local painters, video displays and the work of renowned arctic photographer Brian Alexander.
Other events include a literature soiree “Yamal and literature” on the 26th of November in the museum of Lev Tolstoy. Poets and novelists from Yamal and living in Moscow, whose theme of creative work is the North, will gather here. This will be followed by an International festival of documentary films entitled “The Arctic” on the 27th of November. It was organized by the government of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug with the financial support of “Gazprom-bank”. 60 films from 6 countries from around the world will participate in it.
An exhibition and presentation of humanitarian and scientific-industrial potential of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug will take place on the 2nd-3rd of December in the Public Chamber of Russian Federation.
August 24, 2010 • Philip Burgess
A recent study published in the International Journal for Circumpolar Health concluded that reindeer herding Sami in Sweden, most particularly men, were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than others. Entitled “Depression and anxiety in the reindeer-herding Sami population of Sweden” , the objectives were to investigate symptoms and predicting factors of depression and anxiety among reindeer-herding Sami in Sweden and a total of 319 reindeer-herding Sami (168 men, 151 women) were compared with urban and rural reference populations comprising 1,393 persons (662 men, 731 women).
The Sami population disclosed higher mean values for both depression and anxiety than the reference groups, with Sami men reporting the highest rates. Work-related stress was associated with anxiety and depression in the Sami group and the study concluded that by comparing Sami men and women with reference groups of men and women living in urban and rural areas in northern Sweden, this study identified that reindeer-herding Sami men require special attention with regard to mental health problems.
(Int J Circumpolar Health, Published online 18.08.2010)
June 18, 2010 • Philip Burgess
On Sunday Anne Ollila became the first woman to head the Reindeer Herders’ Association of Finland.
Both she and the reindeer herding sector face great challenges, writes the daily Lapin Kansa:
“The challenges are not insurmountable because a Finn never leaves a reindeer in the lurch. Lapland wouldn’t be Lapland without reindeers.
The reindeer herding sector will continue to be important for the economy of the north, which serves not only its own people but because of rising tourism also a growing number of customers.
For the future it is vital that reindeers and reindeer meat continue to enjoy an excellent reputation. In a world of green values it’s good to stress that reindeers which grow up surrounded by clean nature leave behind smaller ecological footprints than other ruminants.”
Source – Baltic Review
November 16, 2009 • Philip Burgess
The Board of the University of the Arctic (UArctic) has approved the establishment of UArctic Institute for Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry, as a result of the International Polar Year (IPY) project and the IPY EALÁT project.
October 22, 2009 • Philip Burgess
(By Luke Harding, The Guardian) For 1,000 years the indigenous Nenets people have herded their reindeer along the Yamal peninsula. But their survival in this remote region of north-west Siberia is under serious threat from climate change as Russia’s ancient permafrost melts.
t is one of the world’s last great wildernesses, a 435-mile long peninsula of lakes and squelching tundra stretching deep into the Arctic Ocean. For 1,000 years the indigenous Nenets people have migrated along the Yamal peninsula. In summer they wander northwards, taking their reindeer with them, across a landscape of boggy ponds, rhododendron-like shrubs and wind-blasted birch trees. In winter they return southwards.
October 6, 2009 • Philip Burgess
By HENRY SANDERSON (AP) – GENHE CITY, China — Herding reindeer and hunting bears and boars in the forests on Siberia’s fringe was Gu Gejun’s life. Now his rifle has been confiscated, and the only reindeer he herds are in an urban tourist park.
China has moved most of the small Ewenki ethnic group from the steppe to the city, giving its members better access to medical services, education and jobs but, inevitably, changing their traditions.
They are among more than 700,000 nomadic herders — mostly Tibetans, Mongols and Kazaks in western China — the government has resettled since 2000.
About 60 Ewenki families live here in a Finnish-designed gated community of spacious sloped-roof wooden homes in orderly rows. They have televisions and washing machines. Across the street a teepee-like tent houses an exhibit on how the Ewenki used to live. Nearby, a dozen reindeer graze in a cleared patch of forest, watched over by Gu, a 37-year-old man with the chiseled looks of a movie star.
September 14, 2009 • Philip Burgess
(Pic & Story Source: msnbc) HOVSGOL PROVINCE, Mongolia – Bayanjargal laughed as she watched the three of us from NBC News turn on our cell phones for the first time in 24 hours and maniacally start emailing and texting. We probably were a ridiculous sight – hungry, dishevelled, basically slightly worse for wear after having flown two hours and then bumped along another ten hours inside a Russian UAZ van. But that wasn’t why Bayanjargal was grinning so widely.
“I’m happy to see you on your cell phones,” said the 40-year-old, who like many Mongolians goes by just one name. “It means there is a signal up here!” “Up here” was Tsagaannuur, the northernmost town in this part of Mongolia, where we had stopped briefly during a strenuous three-day journey to the taiga, a subarctic area on the Siberian border. The region ranks amongst the most isolated and harsh environments in the northern hemisphere. It’s so remote there are no power or phone lines. But there is cell phone service, which became available this past year.
September 3, 2009 • Philip Burgess
ABC News have a video about the Dukha reindeer herders of northern Mongolia, one of the oldest reindeer peoples in the world. Also featured is Dan Plumley who has been working with Dukha reindeer herders for over a decade and is Director of the Totem Peoples Preservation Project.
Watch the video here.
March 12, 2009 • Philip Burgess
Vapsten Sami village in Sweden has been granted state aid which enables them to test new methods in monitoring reindeer. Now, the reindeer will be fitted with GPS transmitters.
Jon Mikkal Labba, the leader of the Vapsten Sami village, says that he begins his working day by turning on the computer, to see how the reindeer behave and where they are.
I can see if it the reindeers move a lot and then I know that there is interference, either predators or other things, and then we can concentrate on that area during the day.
February 11, 2009 • Philip Burgess
Representatives of research, reindeer herding, local authorities and industry contributed to a ’declaration of coexistence’ between reindeer nomads and the oil and gas industry in the Russian North….
The declaration is among the results of a four year research project ENSINOR at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, with Nenets reindeer herders and ’their’ industry on both sides of the Ural mountains. An international workshop in December 2007 had brought together the above mentioned stakeholder groups, which contributed to the declaration.
The declaration is available in English and Russian .
This declaration is one of several products of the research project ENSINOR (Environmental and Social Impacts of Industrialization in Northern Russia), which lasted 48 months and ran from January 2004 through December 2007. The overall aim of ENSINOR was the co-production of knowledge that stems from different traditions among both scientists and reindeer herders and their respective ways of knowing about contemporary social-ecological systems.
November 24, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Även om beskedet att det kanadensiska bolaget, Northland Resources fått tillstånd att bryta järnmalm i Pajala, så finns oron hos Muonio sameby kring vilka konsekvenser det får för renskötseln. / The Canadian mining company, Northland Resources has received permission to mine iron ore in Pajala, and as a result, there are concerns among Muonio Sameby about the consequences for reindeer herding in their district, especially as the activities will be in the sameby’s reindeer calving grounds
Muonio sameby oroas över planerad gruvverksamhet /Read the full story here
November 11, 2008 • Philip Burgess
(Pic. Finnmark Dagblad) Today the Supreme court in Norway will hear the question as to how best to kill a reindeer, as reported in Finnmark Dagblad.
November 4, 2008 • Philip Burgess
The Norwegian company Fred Olsen Renewables has received rights for two years to examine the possibility of a windmill park in Stekenjokk in Västerbotten. Tomas Nejne, leader of the Vilhelmina Southern sameby (Sami village) is quoted as saying to the regional newspaper
We hoped to the end, that our interests would come first. For us reindeer herders, if the exploitation of Stekenjokk goes ahead, it will be a disaster and we will resist all attempts until we go bankrupt…Building wind turbines on Stekenjokk will kill our Sameby.
Wind power is also being proposed in a new area on the Kola Peninsula in North West Russia. According to Barents Observer, a Russian company is requesting permission for the construction of a 110 million EURO windmill park on the western side of the Pechenga Bay, just few kilometres from the border to Norway.
October 24, 2008 • Philip Burgess
24 reindeer were killed by a train last week near Majavatn in the southerly area of reindeer husbandry in Norway. while compensation is paid, reindeer herder Nils Johan Kappfjell said
“It seems that it is cheaper for the NSB to pay for the animals than to put up fencing along the line”
The NSB press officer stated that
If we are notified of a specific local area, we tend to slacken the pace. But there are limits to how long stretches we should do it. That said, we are sorry for what happened, but I can not see that we could have done something different in this case
Elsewhere, southern Sami reindeer herders are asking why they are not permitted to use the excellent lichen pastures that have been placed off limits to reindeer in their area. Sami herders were removed from the area in 1800. Reindeer herder Even Danielsen said,
This is incredibly good reindeer country, with good lichen, grass and a stable winter climate, It is tragic that reindeer husbandry in the Røros region can not exploit the areas here that were traditional reindeer pastures,
The three reindeer districts that want to use their old pasture areas is Saantie-Essand, Gåebbrie-Riasten/Hylling and Svahke-Elgå reindeer districts. Herders received scientific backing for their claims too.
There is a great loss for Southern Sámi reindeer and the mountain
regions that the best reindeer pasture areas in the northern part of
Hedemark not in use, It is certainly not ecological to leave them unused. It would
be an advantage if the reindeer were grazing a little, so it woud gow better instead of being left to rot in the ground
stated Ansgaar Kosmo, a well known lichen researcher in Norway.
October 9, 2008 • Philip Burgess
(Photo J.E. Kalvemo, NRK) The Bessaker wind power station in the Fosen region in the southernmost parts of reindeer husbandry in Norway has just opened and was visited by reindeer herders from Norway and Sweden (in Jamtland and Trondelag) who fear the impact that it will have (there are plans for large expansion) on reindeer and loss of pastures. There is also wind power development on the Swedish side of the border and reindeer herders are feeling squeezed according to reindeer herder Arvid Jaama on the Norwegian side. Reindeer Herder on the Swedish side Sture Åhren said to NRK Sami Radio,
If this wind power development continues on the Norwegian and Swedish side of the border, I would warn young people to stay away from reindeer herding.
October 1, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Reindeer Herder Patrik Lundgren from the Östra Kikkejaurs sameby, Photo Nils Widman
Although on paper, Sami reindeer herders have a statutory right to graze their reindeer over half the surface of Sweden, in practice, industrial activities such as mining, hydropower, logging, infrastructure and the new kid on the block, windpower development culminate in a progressive loss and fragmentation of pastures.
There are now 14 wind power parks planned on paper that are in areas of reindeer husbandry in Sweden. The largest wind park in the world (by German company Svevind) is planned in the Östra Kikkejaurs sameby, and it will cover a quarter of their winter pastures. The project plans to erect 1000 windmills to provide electricity for 2 million homes.
September 27, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Original Story from tuvaonline.ru. Original Story from tuvaonline.ru. He walked for three days to fulfill a promise he gave a year ago. From over there beyond the mountain, from the summer pasture. By way of an old footpath, which nobody except him remembers anymore. Whitefoot came with him – Ak-Khol, his dog with white front legs. And two riding reindeer, Blackie and Zorka.
For three days, the reindeer herder Oleg Orai-ool became the most popular person in the taiga spa “Ush-Beldir”, in the East of Tuva, on the border of Russia and Mongolia. The children would not leave the reindeer: they petted them, touching the antlers with their fingers, surprised that in the summer they are so soft.
July 24, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Gold, copper and platinum fever continue to pass over Finnmark. Test cores in Kvalsund had chief geologist Kjell Nilsen enthusing
This is Norway’s largest copper find…We’re talking about billions. With today’s prices, we have found values of between eight and ten billion kroner (1.25 bn Euros)
Other materials in a 6 kilometre ridge include platinum, silver and gold. Nilsen told Finnnmark Dagblad said Nussir ASA intends to apply for permission to extract the minerals and if successful, production might start in year 2011, he adds. This is an area of reindeer husbandry and herders have already expressed their concerns about mining activity, as reported in the Reindeer Blog and in NRK, where herder Berit Kristine Hætta stated that reindeer need peace in this area after calving, a claim questioned by a Nussir spokesperson.
Meanwhile, in Karasjok, Store Norsk Gull are drilling 15 test holes (in their search for gold) in Ráitevárri and Rivkkaoggi (the heart of the winter pastures in this area) and reindeer herders are not happy about it, as reported in NRK yesterday.
In a letter to the Områdestyret for East Finnmark reindeer herders Lars Larsen Anti, Marit Kirsten Anti Gaup og Samuel John L. Anti wrote that the company has made no attempt to dialogue with them
This has not happened, and, therefore, we require full stop of the business until Store Norske Gold have met with us and clarified their activities in the area. We demand direct negotiations and clarification from the company.
The reindeer herders are considering engaging a lawyer if activities are not halted.
July 17, 2008 • Philip Burgess
(Pic – Torill Kolbu) There was an interesting interview with south Sami reindeer herder Jon Anders Mortensson in Ostlendingen today. Mortensson herding area is the Elgå reindeer district in the mountainous region of southern Norway. In this region there are six herding families, in all about 35 people, herding around 3000 reindeer.
Mortensson stressed the importance of the intergenerational transfer of knowledge and that older herders don’t retire, rather play a critical role in educating the future generations.
We cannot survive with these big losses to predators, year after year. It makes me question more whether it is appropriate that my children become full time reindeer herders. Do they have a profession in the future, or will they get an education in another occupation? These questions and thoughts arise ever more frequently in my head
June 30, 2008 • Philip Burgess
(Source – The Kremlin) Many Finno Ugric Peoples are reindeer herders – Sami, Komi, Khanty, Finns, Nenets, to name a few. While reindeer were not on the agenda at last weeks Finno Ugric Peoples congress in Khanty Mansisk last week, reindeer were not too far away..as seen in this picture with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Finnish President Tarja Halonen. Medvedev promised to visit to Finland in the near future – perhaps Reindeer will feature then?
May 12, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Sami reindeer herder Olav Mathis Eira was in London recently to make a direct appeal to the British Prime Minister.
“Climate change is threatening our economy as reindeer herders. Because this is part of our traditional way of life, if the economy goes, probably the entire Sami culture would go with it.”
The story was covered in the London Independent,
May 9, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Maa- ja metsätalousministeriö on päättänyt maksaa 1 732 261 euroa korvauksia loppuvuonna (1.7-31.12.2007) aiheutuneista porovahingoista sekä alkuvuonna (1.1. – 30.6.2007) aiheutuneista porovahingoista siltä osin kuin niitä ei vielä oltu korvattu täysimääräisesti.
(Summary in English: The Finnish Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture has decided to pay subsidies of 1 732 261 € to cover the damages – that haven’t been reimbused in full – caused by predators to reindeer husbandry during 1.1.2007 – 31.12.2007. The Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture couldn’t pay subsidies in whole last year since the claims for damages exceeded the budget allocated for 2007. The damages made up 2,55 million euro last year, and thus reached the highest level for 20 years.)
May 5, 2008 • Philip Burgess
(Article from The Local 03052008)The Sweden Democrats have called for an end to privileges enjoyed by Sami reindeer herders at their annual party congress which began in Karlstad on Friday. The far-right Sweden Democrats gathered in the western Swedish town of Karlstad on Friday for their annual party congress. They were met by a large police presence and groups of anti-racist demonstrators.
The meeting will address 31 motions and according to Svenska Dagbladet one of these motions concerns the privileges enjoyed by Sami reindeer herders in the remote northern areas of Sweden.
“Citizens that do not derive their livelihoods from reindeer are treated like second class citizens,” said Olle Larsson from Jämtland. The motion calls the distinct status held by Samis in Sweden “undemocratic” and calls for the re-distribution of funds and support to all “regardless of ethnic identity and line of business.”