Sweden’s reindeer at risk of starvation after summer drought

August 27, 2018 • Alena Gerasimova

Indigenous Sami herders urge state to help mitigate impact of climate change in Arctic circle, says The Guardian.

A Sami woman observes reindeer selection and calf labelling near the village of Dikanäss, about 800km north-west of Stockholm. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
A Sami woman observes reindeer selection and calf labelling near the village of Dikanäss, about 800km north-west of Stockholm. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Sweden’s indigenous Sami reindeer herders are demanding state aid to help them cope with the impact of this summer’s unprecedented drought and wildfires, saying their future is at risk as global warming changes the environment in the far north.

Read more…


Visit to Evenki herders in China – A Sámi Herders Perspective

June 11, 2018 • Philip Burgess

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…


6th World Reindeer Herders Congress – Dates Announced

February 22, 2017 • Philip Burgess

The 6th World Reindeer Herders Congress will take place in the Sámi village of Jokkmokk in northern Sweden between August 16-20, 2017. 

The Congress occurs every four years (the last Congress was held in China) and brings council  members of the Association of World Reindeer Herders from all around the world together. There will be a a host of meetings, scientific sessions and cultural sessions and the event promises to be a great celebration of reindeer and reindeer peoples.

The registration form is now on the 6WRHC website and the draft programme has also been posted here.

Visit to keep updated…


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

July 1, 2016 • Philip Burgess

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 Phd: State Management & Traditional Knowledge in Reindeer Husbandry Management

May 19, 2016 • Philip Burgess

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 Burgess

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!


Knowledge Co-Production between NASA and Reindeer Herders across the Arctic

May 23, 2015 • Philip Burgess

ANancy Maynard, Mikhail Pogodaev few years ago, UNU (United Nations University) filmed a short interview with the Executive Chair of the Association of World Reindeer Herders Mikhail Pogodaev and Nancy Maynard of NASA, after they presented a joint paper entitled “Sami Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and NASA Remote Sensing Technologies Working Together for Adaptation Strategies” at an international workshop on Indigenous Peoples, Marginalized Populations and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Traditional Knowledge convened in Mexico City, Mexico. You can now watch the interview online (see below) and you can download the presentation here.

Read more…


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

May 3, 2015 • Philip Burgess

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..


Seminar on spring duck hunting started in Kautokeino

March 24, 2014 • Alena Gerasimova

duck hunting seminarMonday, March 24, 2014. Seminar on spring duck hunting started today in Kautokeino, at Sami University College. The project that is called Arbediehtu. is leaded by the Sami University College, Guovdageainnu municipality and the Sami association for hunters and harvesters and dedicated to the knowledge about the spring duck hunting.


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

November 30, 2013 • Philip Burgess

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


Reindeer Boots for $2500?!

June 10, 2013 • Philip Burgess

Tenzing on EverestIt is one of the 20th century’s most memorable photos: the one Edmund Hillary took of Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953, standing at the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on earth. You might not know that he was wearing boots made from reindeer. Tenzing obviously had learned what peoples in the Arctic have always known, that if you want warm feet, wear footwear made from reindeer. Style and fashion blogs have just alighted on these boots in the last week, because Bally, the Swiss company that in the ’40s began custom-making boots for serious mountaineers, among them the pair that Tenzing wore for his storied ascent are making reindeer boots again. In honor of the anniversary of that climb — and the fact that the old-fashioned mountaineer has become a style model in men’s fashion — Bally is issuing a new version of the boots. The sole is lighter in weight and they lace more easily. But like the originals, they are available only by order, and they are still made of reindeer fur. They may never help you get to the top of a mountain, but, at $2,495 (USD), they will certainly help you scale your credit limit.

Read more…


‘Canadian Reindeer’ Looking for an Experienced Reindeer Herder

June 6, 2013 • Philip Burgess

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


Reindeer See in ‘UV’

May 27, 2011 • Philip Burgess

Reindeer see in UV
(Source BBC News) Arctic reindeer can see beyond the “visible” light spectrum into the ultra-violet region, according to new research by an international team.

They say tests on reindeer showed that the animal does respond to UV stimuli, unlike humans.

The ability might enable them to pick out food and predators in the “UV-rich” Arctic atmosphere, and to retain visibility in low light.

Details are published in the The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Read more…


Sami Council Criticize German Bank Funding of Wind Power on Reindeer Pastures

April 19, 2010 • Philip Burgess

The Saami Council, the NGO that represents the Sami people in all four countries in which they live have released a strongly worded press release criticising the German bank KfW IPEX for their funding of a giant wind power project in Sami reindeer herding areas, in contravention of the OECD Convention on Multilateral Enterprises.

In their complaint the Saami Council argue that the project is socially unsustainable and in breach of Saami rights.

The Swedish government has granted planning permission for the world’s largest land based wind power park to be built in the municipality of Piteå, Sweden, where the Saami community of Östra Kikkejaur have their winter reindeer herding pastures. The wind power park will consist of over 1000 wind turbines, an 800 km road, and extensive infrastructure, which means that reindeer herding in the area will be severely restricted.

”The Swedish state has admitted that the project will destroy at least 25% of the Saami community’s winter reindeer herding pastures, but the state has argued that renewable energy is more important than Saami rights. The financier of the project’s first phase, the German bank KfW IPEX-Bank, has defended their investment by referring to the Swedish state’s approval of the project. But the state planning permission, and thereby KfW IPEX-Bank’s financing,  are in breach of international law because Saami rights are not being respected”, says Mattias Åhrén, president for the Saami Council.

Download the Press Release 1004 Press release Markbygden

Download the Letter of Noticification to the Bank KfW IPEX 1004 Markbygden OECD

Text of the full press release below

Read more…


Mining and Reindeer Can Mix According to Senior Politician, Norway

April 13, 2010 • Philip Burgess

A multi stakeholder seminar was held in the Kautokeino, Norway yesterday which focussed on the issue of mining in Finnmark, an issue of some controversy in the region since the passing of the Finnmark Act which devolved desicion making powers over multiple resource issues to the region of Finnmark. The seminar was attended by the leader of the EALÁT project and several EALÁT partners including the leader of the Sami Reindeer Herders Association of Norway. Heavyweight politicians were present, including the Parliamentary leader of the governing Labour Party Helga Pedersen and the leader of the mining company Store Norske Gull, who have been active in staking claims  most particularly in the Karasjok region. Pedersen was unequivocal in her support for the future development of mining in the the region, which reindeer herders fear will mean the further erosion of winter pastures that are already under duress. Pedersen told NRK Sami Radio

Both Finnmark society and the Sami community is entirely dependent on new activity. If one is to preserve the culture and language we are going to have to have new jobs for the youth in the Sami villages. You can not save the Sami culture simply by having Sami kindergarten at Tøyen in Oslo and courses in communities with cafe lattes, it has to happen here,

You can read the rest of the article here on the Reindeer Portal


Warm winters distress reindeer herders, Kola Peninsula (France 24)

March 24, 2010 • Philip Burgess

In a billowing cloud of white, Russia’s Arctic herders drive thousands of panting and wild-eyed reindeer through the knee-deep snow to the first slaughter this year.

But warm winters in recent years have forced herders here in the far northern Kola Peninsula to delay for months the rounding up of their reindeer from the vast tundra — at great economic cost.

“We’ve had to move the slaughter forwards from December to February because the lakes haven’t frozen over,” said Vladimir Filippov, an ethnic Komi herder who heads the farm Tundra, the main employer in this remote village.

These reindeer have lost roughly 20 percent of their weight during the extra months spent in the tundra while herders waited for the ice to thicken enough for the forced migration.

“It’s not a small but a huge problem for us and a constant worry,” said Filippov.

With meat sold at 4.34-6.01 dollars per kilogram (2.2 pounds), it can amount to a loss of up to 167,000 dollars per year. “That’s a huge loss,” Filippov sighed.

Read more…


In Russian Arctic, global warming threatens traditional way of life (Deutsche Welle)

December 16, 2009 • Philip Burgess

Russian scientists have doubts over whether global warming is here to stay and whether it’s man made. But for the Saami in Russia’s north, the mild winters already pose a threat to their traditional way of life. All around the Arctic, the effects of a temperature rise are visible, and native inhabitants of the tundras in Europa, Asia and North America are struggling with the new reality.

That’s also true for the Saami reindeer herders on Russia’s Kola Peninsula, an area bordering on Norway and Finnish Lapland. But, in Russia, climate change is not a hot-button issue, nor is much attention being paid to the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen. Russian scientists say they have no evidence that global warming is a long-term trend, and doubt whether it is a man-made phenomenon.

Read more…


Canadian Mine Threatens Traditional Reindeer Husbandry, Sweden

September 11, 2009 • Philip Burgess

Area in question - Source: Blackstone Ventures

(Press Release, Saami Council) The Saami people say a mining project in Northeastern Sweden, proposed by a Canadian company, threatens their traditional way of life and violates their basic human rights, as recognized by the United Nations.

On 31 August 2009, Blackstone Ventures Inc., a Vancouver-based mining company, announced plans to begin test-drilling for minerals on pasture lands considered invaluable to the Saami people. In a press release, circulated in Canada the same date, Blackstone further announced its plans to mine in the disputed area (See this material here).  The Sammi communities have not agreed to such test-drillings. Furthermore, Saami community memebers do not recognize the company’s right to drill, noting that the company does not hold the relevant permits to drill and lacks a work-plan, approved by the reindeer herders.

Read more…


Killing of Reindeer in Norwegian Supreme Court / Avlivning av ren i norsk domstol

December 10, 2008 • Philip Burgess

Samerna borde ha samma rätt att avliva djur som judar och muslimerna. Det menade advokaten Trond Biti när samisk tradition sattes mot norsk lag igår i högsta domstolen i Norge. Trond Biti menar att muslimer och judar avlivar djuren med knivstick utan att bedöva (

Sami should have the same right to kill animals as do Jews and Muslims. So said lawyer Trond Biti when the case of Sami traditions came up against Norwegian law yesterday in the Supreme Court of Norway.

“They have every right to practice their traditions and so should the Sami people” said Biti.

Trond Biti is defending a herder  for killing a  reindeer with a knife stabbed into the heart, although it is contrary to the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act. Norwegian law has primacy over Sami customs, said the First State lawyer Lars Fausa for Troms and Finnmark, after the reindeer owner was fined 5,000 NOK (550 EURO) for having slaughtered reindeer in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. (NRK,

More on this story here on an earlier story on the Reindeer Blog


Al Jazeera on Loss of Reindeer Pastures in Sweden

November 14, 2008 • Philip Burgess

Al Jazeera is not the first network that springs to mind when thinking of reindeer, but this is an excellent overview of the threats faced by reindeer herding Sami in Sweden, and these are the same threats that reindeer herders and other indigenous peoples practicing traditional livelihoods face elsewhere. You can watch the video here on the Reindeer Portal


Sami traditions, Norwegian Law

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.

Read more…


Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Reindeer Pasturage, by Berit Inga

October 31, 2008 • Philip Burgess


This is a poster presentation by Berit Inga from the Arctic Ungulates Conference, in Sakha Yakutia in August, 2007 and is reproduced here with her kind permission. Berit Inga is employed at the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå and at Àjtte, the Swedish Mountain and Sámi Museum, Jokkmokk Sweden and she can be contacted at berit.inga(at)

This will be published as a full article in a forthcoming edition of  RANGIFER 27 (2), 2007, Nordisk organ for reindriftsforskning (NOR), the publication of the Nordic Council for Reindeer Husbandry Research.

Read more…


Reindeer Mix Up

October 16, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Pic – Johan Mathis Gaup) NRK has been full of a story this week that is just south of Kautokeino / Guovdageaidnu. This is the time of year that reindeer herds are migrated back to the interior and their winter pastures, as the temperature drops. Two large herds have become mixed together – in total about 23,000 animals that belong to the reindeer herding districts Orda and Lákkonjárga (30/31) in the  Guovdajohtolat (Middle Zone). The Reinpolitiet (established in 1950, a branch of the Norwegian Police that deals with reindeer husbandry) have been called in, though there is disagreement as to who called them, and they are now observing the situation. Concerns have been raised as to police presence, the impact on pastures of so many animals in one place and as to how this could have happened in the first place. 


UN Criticizes Sweden – On Land Rights, Resources, Reindeer

August 19, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Press release from the Saami Council) The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination criticizes Sweden for numerous forms of discrimination of the Saami people in unusually concrete and strong language, in particular with regard to the Saami people’s right to land.

The United Nations has for several years condemned Sweden for not recognizing the Saami people’s right to land and resources. Sweden has ignored this criticism so far taking no single action to end the discrimination of the Saami people identified by the UN. The UN now sharpens its criticism further. The UN Committee on Racial Discrimination released on Monday 18.8 its Concluding Observations on Sweden in which it calls on Sweden to take several concrete actions to end the human rights violations Sweden subjects the Saami people to.

Read more…


Nellim Reindeer Herders Ordered to Pay 100,000 Euros in Damages

August 5, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Pic. Helsingin Sanomat) Three Sami reindeer herders from Nellim, in Northern FInland have just lost their case against the Finnish state forestry giant Metsahallitus in the Lapland District Court. The reindeer herders argued that the logging practices of Metsahallitus was destroying reindeer pastures – ground lichen and hanging tree lichen and were not only threatening their livelihood as reindeer herders, but also their ability to practice Sami reindeer husbandry and maintain their Sami culture.

Read more…


Herders in Sweden Protest Mountain Burials

July 8, 2008 • Philip Burgess

Most office workers would not appreciate the ashes of somebody’s recently passed away family member or loved one being spread around their workspace. Sami reindeer herders in Sweden have decided to draw attention to the fact that it is becoming an increasingly common occurence in the mountains that they call their workplace, according to a recent story in UPI and The Local

UMEA, Sweden, July 5 (UPI) — Spreading the ashes of a lost loved one in northern Sweden’s mountains is “unpleasant” for area reindeer herders, they say.

Tomas Nejne, who spoke for a group of reindeer herders, said the funerary practice may be soothing to grieving relatives, but has “unpleasant’ after-effects on herding activities, The Local reported Saturday.

“This has become a working environment problem for us. We think that it is unpleasant to be in and walk over areas where people are buried,” Nejne said.

Current law allows scattering ashes in the mountains thanks to a county administrative board decision. But the herders are asking county court officials to make an immediate change.

The Local said if the herders’ efforts are ultimately unsuccessful, two more people’s cremated remains will be released in the regional mountains.


Full Frontal Attack on Reindeer Husbandry (NRK Norway)

May 29, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Map showing extent of one claim in Kvalsund – Wega Mining) At a public meeting in Kvalsund, northern Norway, a full frontal attack on reindeer husbandry was launched by one of the parliamentary representatives for Finnmark, Olav Gunnar Ballo. The meeting had been called to discuss the issue of mining in the region where the international mining company Wega Mining has applied for permission to expand mineral mining, with the support of the local mayor and the majority of participants. Wega owns 18% of Nussir ASA which has the permit to mine what is believed to be Norway’s largest copper deposits at Nussir and Repparfjord. Ballo criticised reindeer husbandry for being subsidised, not moving with the times and standing in the way of development. The clip has also been televised. Ballo’s comments gained a lot of media exposure. The head of the Sami Reindeer Herders Association of Norway (NBR), Nils Henrik Sara was shocked and alarmed at Ballo’s comments, especially as he is sitting in the national parliament. 

Reindeer herder Mikkel Nils A. Sara stressed that reindeer herders were not against development…

Read more…


Reindeer Herder Appeals to British Prime Minister

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,

Read more…


Sweden Democrats call for end to reindeer herding Sami privileges

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.”

Read more…


Sami herders in space rocket near miss / Esrangeraket slog ned nära samer

April 21, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The Local, Sweden Two Sami reindeer herders were narrowly missed by a falling space rocket launched from the Esrange space station in northern Sweden in the beginning of April. Saarivuoma Sami village has demanded that safety be improved.”It was lucky that the rocket did not fall on our heads. Otherwise we wouldn’t be sitting here,” said one of the reindeer herders, Per Ola Blind, to news agency TT.

En raket från rymdbasen Esrange slog ned nära två renskötare i början av april.
– Tur att man inte fick raketen i huvudet, säger en av renskötarna. Nu kräver Saarivuoma sameby att säkerheten förbättras

Read more…


Sami and the Baffin Reindeer Experiment

April 17, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(From CBC North, 03042008) This historical photo from an Iqaluit museum shows Saami with a reindeer on Baffin Island in the 1920s. (Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum)


A Saami woman from northern Norway has followed the travels of her ancestors to Nunavut, looking for what happened to hundreds of reindeer that were relocated from Norway to Baffin Island in the early 1900s.

Karen Monika Paulsen, in Nunavut for a month-long research expedition, said her great-grandparents sailed with more than 600 reindeer to southern Baffin Island in 1921.

Using her family’s recollections and reports from the Hudson’s Bay Company, Paulsen has learned the company relocated the Norwegian reindeer as an experiment aimed at helping Inuit avoid starvation by teaching them how to herd reindeer.

Read more…


State keen to preserve reindeer operations (Norway)

March 6, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(from Aftenposten) Reindeer herding in northern Norway is under constant threat from development that’s encroaching on grazing areas. Now state officials say they’ll heed warnings that reindeer operations will die out within 50 years.

“It’s a clear goal of this government to maintain today’s level of reindeer herding,” Ola T Heggem, state secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture (Landbruksdepartementet), told Aftenposten on Monday. “It will be preserved.”

This was in response to criticisms from the Sami Reindeer Herders Association about the loss of reindeer pastures due to uncontrolled cabin development.

Read the full story here.


Lapland: disputes over land and reindeer pit brother against brother

• Philip Burgess

(From Helsingin Sanomat, March 2, 2008) “…It is not immediately apparent that Nellim is a place where the three most enduring disputes of northernmost Finnish Lapland converge: the conflict over the use of forests, disagreements over land ownership and the rights of the Sami people, and the dispute over reindeer husbandry. All of these are interlinked.  For the same reason, human relations in Nellim are tied up in knots…” Read the full article here.


ENSINOR Wrap Up Workshop – A Summary

February 20, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The ENSINOR workshop involving key stakeholders from indigenous peoples (including several reindeer herders), administration and oil and gas officials was held in Rovaniemi in December, organised by the Arctic Centre, Finland. Florian Stammler and Philip Burgess have coauthored this summary.. On 10-11 December 2007 the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland held a 2-day workshop involving key stakeholders from northern Russia, Finland and Norway. Among the participants were indigenous representatives, oil and gas industry personnel, NGO representatives, government personnel, and a mix of natural and social scientists. Several members of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry were in attendance, including Anders Oskal, Svein Mathiesen, Philip Burgess and Ole Isak Eira. The workshop was the final activity of the 48-month project “Environmental and Social Impacts of Industrialization in Northern Russia (ENSINOR)”, which was funded by the Academy of Finland January 2004- December 2007. The project has made comparative case studies of oil and gas activities in two key federal districts – the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO) and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YNAO).

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Swedish Samebys Protest against Prospecting in Nature Reserve – Samebyar protesterar mot mineralprospektering…

• Philip Burgess

Mining activites across the Sapmi  – Norway, Sweden, Finland and Norway are intense at the moment driven by high demand and elevated commodity prices. New mines are planned, extensive prospecting is occurring and old mines are being reopened. Yesterday, NRK Sami TV  had a lengthy piece on the impact of mining activities in several areas in northern Sweden, that were directly impacting on reindeer husbandry and a press release (see below) has just been released by Sámiid Riikasearvi/Svenska Samernas Riksforbund protesting the activities of Canadian mining company Blackstone Ventures in the Vindelfjallens nature reserve, a story that was also covered in the Metro newspaper.

PRESSMEDDELANDE  Samebyar protesterar mot mineralprospektering inom Vindelfjällens naturreservat Det kanadensiska prospekteringsföretaget Blackstone Ventures Inc. söker efter brytvärda mineraler inom Vindelfjällens naturreservat. Nu protesterar de berörda samebyarna mot att bolaget letar malm inom deras kärnområden.

– Fjällområdet är hjärtat i våra marker, säger Tobias Jonsson, ordförande i Grans sameby. För oss är det helt oacceptabelt att det prospekteras efter malm i fjällområdet. Det är obegripligt hur det kan tillåtas att prospektering över huvud taget förekommer i känslig och orörd fjällmiljö.

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‘Invasion of Swedish Reindeer’

February 19, 2008 • Philip Burgess

Reindeer from Sweden are invading reindeer herding districts in Norway as the ongoing disputes between herders in Norway and Sweden and the unresolved border issues continue, according to an article in Namdalsavisa, and it is a matter for concern for both reindeer herders and scientists. Concerns relate to the impact on the pastures and the difficulties that arise if reindeer mix. The problem is particulary severe in the Vestre Namdal reindeer herding district.


“We are being pushed out” – Nils Henrik Sara on Pressures on Reindeer Husbandry

February 18, 2008 • Philip Burgess

New hydropower projects, windmill parks and the construction of new houses and cabin put increasing pressure on the reindeer herders in Norway. The industry might vanish by year 2050 should the developments continue, a representative of the reindeer herders says.It is not climate changes, nor the high number of reindeers or the increasing motorized traffic which pose the biggest threat against the Norwegian reindeer herders. It is rather the big number of cabins built in the pasture areas, as well as the planned hydropower and wind power projects, head of the Norwegian Association of Reindeer Herders, Nils Henrik Sara, says to newspaper Aftenposten.

-We are being pushed out […] Our future looks gloomy and we do not have the necessary dialogue with the authorities, Mr Sara says.

He is supported by researcher Christian Nellemann from the United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP), who says that the reindeer herding industry might disappear by 2050 should the current development continue.

–The only thing, which can save the Sàmi reindeer culture is state intervention and protection of the necessary land areas, he adds.

Lawyer Geir Haugen says to Aftenposten that Norway is committed by the ILO Convention on protection of indigenous peoples’ culture and industry and that the current development in the country therefore can be seen as a violation of international law.

Only this year about 1000 new cabins are planned built in northern Norway, of which half have got special permissions. In addition come 25 planned hydro power projects, 10-12 wind power projects, as well as mining projects.

Original Story in Barents Observer and Aftenposten 


Platinum Drilling Starts near Lovozero, Kola Peninsula

February 14, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(pic from Barents Observer) In a press release from Vancouver, Centrasia Mining Corp. announced that drilling has started on its 100% owned, Tsaga Platinum Group Metals (“PGM”) prospect on the Kola Peninsula, Russia – adjacent to Lovozero and in a region of reindeer husbandry. The Tsaga property covers an area of 1,970 square kilometres and is adjacent to the north border of Barrick Gold Corporation’s Federova Tundra PGM deposit and Consolidated Puma Minerals Corp.’s  East Pansky deposit, and Pana PGM’s North Reef PGM deposits.


Sami National Day in Sweden Overshadowed by Reindeer Pasture Crisis

February 12, 2008 • Philip Burgess

February 6th is Sami National Day in all the countries where the Sami live and is a day for a pan Sami celebration of the Sami people. The day in Sweden was overshadowed for some by the crisis that persists in reindeer pastures – many reindeer herders have been forced to apply for aid to feed their reindeer after much pastures in the region were declared a disaster. According to a report in UPI, the Swedish Sametinget is reported as saying that the situation has not been this bad since 1936. Samebyarna flaggar för svältkatastrof bland renhjordarna även i år. Kravet är att sametinget får behålla 12 miljoner kronor som buffert för stödutfordring.Men regeringen har ännu inte givit något besked. LT Östersund


Elders in reindeer husbandry recognised in Sweden

February 10, 2008 • Philip Burgess

Aina har renskötseln i generna..Aina has reindeer husbandry in her genes. An article in Västerbottens Folkblad (Swedish) recently highlighted a 73 year old Aina Jonsson from the Rans sameby on whom a documentary is being made.  A younger woman Sofia Renfjäll spoke of the difficulties of herding with young families. In an article in the Norrländska Socialdemokraten  (“Voj, voj – här var det mycket renar”) covers a photo exhibition in Överkalix, highlighting Sixten “Sigge” Pokka, an 85 year old herder from the Ängeså sameby. There are several archival images on the website.


Reindeer Luck! Boazolihkku!

January 28, 2008 • Philip Burgess


Reindeer Luck is a TV series that is to premiere on NRK national TV next week. It follows the Eira family in Kautokeino, one of the largest herding families in the region,  on their reindeer migration, slaughter and earmarking and more besides. See more about the series here.