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.
Many might consider reindeer herding to be some kind of idyllic life. But it has its darker side. Anxiety, depression and the struggle for land are eroding the powers and vitality of young herders, and this appears to be particularly the case in Sweden at the present time, though anecdotally it is known that this is a challenge for young people across the world of reindeer husbandry. In Sweden, 1 in 3 young herders (18-29) have considered suicide.
Three excellent articles in NRK Sapmi by Liv Inger Somby this last week on this difficult topic. The first is an interview with Petter Stoor, a Sami psychologist who works at SANKS (Samisk nasjonalt kompetansesenter – psykisk helsevern go rus), based in Karasjok, Norway. SANKS is now the only institution in the Nordic countries that has expertise in culturally adapted suicide prevention among Sami, including culturally and linguistically adapted clinical psychiatry. Stoor stated in the article
There are complex reasons [for suicide]. Reindeer herding is a confrontational environment on many different levels. Everyday is very tough with the struggle for land. Constantly one has to fight in order to operate a profitable pastoralism. The range is huge and very complex, ranging from external to internal conflicts and family problems, which can lead to the youth gets tough in everyday life. Many feel their situation as heavy, they cannot mastered their defeats.
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.
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.
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.
(Source: The Guardian) Lars Jon Allas, whose family has herded reindeer for generations, says mine dust kills the lichen reindeer eat in winter.
The town of Kiruna in far north Sweden is home to the largest underground iron mine in the world. Piles of mined earth dwarf the town and smoke churning from the processing plant at the mine’s entrance creates the impression of an active volcano.
Lars Jon Allas and his reindeer herd spend their winters in the pastures just outside Kiruna. Allas, whose family has herded reindeer for countless generations, says mine dust can carry kilometres and kills the lichen reindeer eat during winter.
Allas is apprehensive about the mining boom taking place in Sweden: “We have mining exploration everywhere, it’s frightening.” Now an Australian company is planning a mining complex just south of Kiruna and Allas’s Sami community is determined to stop it.
Hannans Reward Ltd, a Perth-based company, is planning a collection of open-pit mines just a few kilometres from Kiruna, mining iron, copper and gold. The project is in the advanced exploratory stages, the company hoping environmental impact assessments and final resource testing will be completed in 2014. If so it will apply for exploitation concessions and environmental permits that will allow it to begin mining.
The proposed mine sites stretch kilometres across the forested landscape. Mattias Åhrén, a law professor from Tromsø University and member of the Sami council, says the Hannans’ mines will make reindeer herding in the area impossible. “The site is so huge it cuts the Sami communities in half. It’s directly on the reindeer migration path.”
Åhrén says the mines would destroy autumn and spring pastures and reindeer would not be able to pass. He says it is particularly damaging because the mine sites are in the area used by reindeer cows to give birth.
The 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
Long 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.
“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”.
Wind turbine at Markbygden near Piteå. Photo: Tom Sullivan / SR International
One of the largest wind farms in the world is being built in northern Sweden but not everyone is pleased about it. The turbines cut across an area used by Sweden’s indigenous Sámi reindeer herders.
An hour’s drive inland from the town of Piteå, a dozen wind turbines tower over the surrounding forest. In the next few years 1,101 turbines will be erected here at a cost of $8.2 billion.
“This plateau has really good wind conditions – that’s the main reason it’s being built here,” said Jonas Lundmark from the local council.
“Also 95 percent of the land is owned by two forestry companies and there has been a steady decline in the population over the last 50 years. People living here are very keen to get more business into the area.”
By 2020, the wind farm is expected to provide about half of the national target for new wind energy – about 12 terawatt hours – that’s roughly the equivalent of two Swedish nuclear reactors, according to the company building the wind farm.
Wind power is a high priority for the Swedish government, and the local power to veto planning applications for wind farms has been removed to pave the way for more of them.
Stefan Lundmark, from the Swedish ministry of enterprise and energy says that the trend across the Nordic countries is to build in northern, more sparsely populated areas.
Sámi reindeer herders losing grazing land
“I think that the wind farms will be bigger and bigger and most of them will be in northern Sweden. In the south it’s more densely populated and there are more competing interests,” he said.
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)
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.
On Wednesday, October 7th, the Ministers of Agriculture in Norway and Sweden signed the new Norwegian-Swedish Reindeer Grazing Convention. The Convention contains provisions for how reindeer herding is conducted over the border.
The background to the negotiations is that the 1972 Reindeer Grazing Convention expired in 2005 and had to be replaced with a new one. The new Convention contains seven chapters with 34 articles in which the main provisions of reindeer herding over the border are stated.
The Convention will after the signing be sent to concerned parties for a referral and enters into force once it is ratified by both countries, which requires a decision of the Parliaments in both Sweden and Norway. The Convention shall be in force for 30 years, with renewal of ten-year periods unless terminated.
(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.
Herdswomen is a documentary that follows the life of 3 Sami women in Sweden
The documentary ‘Herdwoman’ by Kine Boman tells the stories of three Sami reindeer herding women in Sweden of different generations and their lives with the reindeer herds. Their thoughts, dreams and memories show their view of lifes essential values. When a court case questions their ancient rights to reindeer pasture their life as reindeer keepers is at risk.
Handölsdalens sameby har ansökt om skyddsjakt på fem järvar och fem lodjur. Ansökan ligger nu hos Naturvårdsverket. Beslut väntas komma inom kort.
”Över 50 000 renar blir rovdjursföda” Lennart Blindh som är ordförande i Handölsdalens sameby tror att varje sameby förlorar omkring 1000 renar varje år på grund av rovdjur. I Sverige finns det drygt 50 samebyar.
Samtliga skogssamebyar kräver att de extra rovdjurspengarna som sametinget får för nästa år ska användas för att höja rovdjursersättningarna för örn och björn.
The Handölsdalens sameby in Sweden is applying for more permits to hunt Lynx and wolverine. Lennart Blind, the leader of sameby estimates that they lose over 100 reindeer a year to predators. Source – SR.se
In other predation news from Sweden, SR.se is reporting that Swedish forest sameby are applying for more compensation from the Sami parliament for reindeer losses to Bear and Eagle.
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
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
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.
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)ajtte.com
(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.
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.
(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.
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.
According to a story in NRK Sami Radio, 400 reindeer in the Pitea region in Sweden have had to be slaughtered as a result of a mysterious eye disease that has rampaged through a herd which leave afflicted reindeer completely blind.
(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.”
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
Västerbottens-Kuriren (VK) I fredags eftermiddag stressades en ren till döds utanför Stensele. Enligt spår på platsen verkar det som minst en skoter har kört flera varv runt renen som till slut dött av utmattning.
Ute på isen strax öster om Stensele, i riktning mot Forsvik, har någon eller några skotrar kört varv efter varv runt den ensamma renen som till slut stressats till döds.
-Jag kan inte fatta vem som kan göra något sådant här dumt, säger Tomas Andersson, renägare i Umbyns sameby.
Händelsen polisanmäldes under lördagen.
A reindeer has died from stress-related injuries after being tormented on Friday by one or more snowmobile drivers outside Stensele in northern Sweden, according to the above report in the Swedish newspaper Västerbottens-Kuriren (VK). The animal died of exhaustion on Friday after it was circled repeatedly by at least one snowmobile on the ice to the east of the town. The incident was reported to the police on Saturday.
“I don’t understand how anybody could do something so stupid,” reindeer herder Tomas Andersson from the Umbyn Sameby told the newspaper.
Two Sami villages in northern Sweden have been denied compensation from the state-owned mining company LKAB for the time village representatives spent on planning for the relocation of Kiruna. The reindeer herding villages of Gaban and Leavas first turned to the government for money to make up for time spent tending to the relocation of nearby Kiruna instead of tending to their reindeer. After the government refused the request, they then turned to the LKAB mining company for 500,000 kronor ($82,000) to cover income lost due to the consultation process.
LKAB is funding the relocation of Kiruna’s city centre so the company can continue operating a lucrative mine which has created underground cracks that threaten to sink the city in the coming years.
JOINT PRESS RELEASE by the Saami Council and the National Swedish Saami Association
Saami areas in Sweden are currently experiencing an explosion in mining and windpower development. There has been an increase in both Scandinavian and foreign companies in prospecting, mining and windpower. Ironically, while many of these companies market themselves to investors based on principles of Corporate Social Responsibility, companies often fail to see the connection between the impacts of their activities and the rights of Saami people.
“The Saami Council and the National Swedish Saami Association are in dialogue with several companies, one of which is Blackstone Ventures Inc. This is a Canadian exploration company, who claim to respect the rights of indigenous people in Canada. At the same time, the company seems to have no problem with performing intrusive exploration activities in sensitive Saami reindeer herding areas in Swedish nature reserves”, says Mattias Åhrén, Head of Human Rights at the Saami Council.
The Saami Council and The National Swedish Saami Association (SSR) are demanding that companies and the Swedish state both take responsibility to ensure that Saami rights are protected before development projects – such as mining and windpower – go ahead.
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.
PRESSMEDDELANDESamebyar protesterar mot mineralprospektering inom Vindelfjällens naturreservatDet 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.
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.
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
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 have been much in the media this last week. Several thousand reindeer from the Swedish side of the border have moved into Trøndelag region in Norway, in search of better pastures, according to this NRK report. This has meant a lot of extra work for reindeer herders on the Norwegian side of the border, who are also dealing with marginal winter pasture conditions. The case drew comment from a Norwegian parliamentary representative who drew attention to the fact that the Convention that governs cross border reindeer movements has been allowed to lapse for several years.
In other news, East Finnmark (Polmak/Varanger) is the best place to be a reindeer calf in Norway, in terms of pasture and predation with losses, which are estimated to be lowest there compared to the rest of Norway. The worst place is the Troms region with 42% of all calves born being lost to predation, poor pastures etc. By comparison, herders in East Finnmark are estimated to lose 18% of their calves.
Last week, NINA, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, released a report that concluded that larger reindeer herds gave rise to weaker animals and increased risk of predation. You can download the report on the Reindeer Portal (Norwegian).