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The part of the project will examine traditional knowledge related to food culture in Eurasian reindeer husbandry and develop a cook book based reindeer herders’ knowledge.

There is a need to bring forward traditional reindeer food culture in an arena for interdisciplinary research. The main goal of this part of the project is to stimulate knowledge for innovation, economic development and local value creation in Arctic indigenous areas, working at the intersection between academia and industry, between science and traditional knowledge, and between “modernity” and tradition.

The book that was created from this part of the project was awarded the prestigious Gourmand Foodbook Award grand prize and Arctic Food Culture category in May, 2018 in Yantai, China.

EALLU plans to implement an international seminar on Arctic indigenous food culture, involving Arctic indigenous reindeer herding youth, contributing to competence building, and bridging knowledge gaps between the generations of indigenous elders and youth on food culture in the circumpolar north. The seminar will include insights into indigenous peoples understanding of biodiversity and food cultures and contain the following topics:

  • Reindeer meat quality from an Indigenous perspective
  • Reindeer meat quality within two spheres of knowing
  • Tools and methods to document reindeer herders traditional knowledge about meat quality and food culture
  • Sámi concepts and language related to the documentation of food culture
  • Gender perspectives of Sámi reindeer herders food culture
  • The value of reindeer meat, blood and bones

EALLU seeks to develop education courses to build competence in the Nordic Countries related to adapting to rapid changes and reindeer herders’ food culture and traditional knowledge. EALLU intends to provide different training courses for Sámi students to provide insights in methods for documenting traditional knowledge, indigenous peoples food culture, and adaptation to climate change.

These courses will be provided in situ and also online. Furthermore, we plan to develop an student exchange program for Sámi students in the Nordic Countries. These courses, training packages and seminars will be developed within the framework of the UArctic EALÁT Institute.

Traditional knowledge in Sámi reindeer herding related to reindeer welfare, handling of animals and Sámi food culture is rich. In EALLU, reindeer herders’ traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge about slaughtering, processing of meat, conservation of meat will be investigated to find out if there are two sphere of knowledge affecting reindeer herders ability to adapt to rapid change?

It is important to document traditional food-culture within reindeer herding communities to maintain the knowledge embedded in the language of food used. A major part of Sámi reindeer herders’ diet is reindeer meat and other parts from reindeer in different varieties; smoked, cooked, dried and roasted.

By focusing on traditional food culture and scientific knowledge in reindeer husbandry, there might be new ways of developing the economy of reindeer herders by highlighting the traditions within food and use of reindeer and that way gain recognition for the traditional ways of harvesting, storing and preserving reindeer meat, using traditional knowledge navigating for future sustainability.

Outputs from this part of the project will include:

  1. A study of Sámi reindeer herders’ traditional methods to kill reindeer for local food production related to season, category of reindeer (calves, spáillit, rotnu), herders value (árvvut) and traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge reflecting specific food cultural requirement, animal categories and seasons – two ways of knowing about slaughtering of reindeer.
  2. Sámi reindeer herders two spheres of knowledge about the tenderness of reindeer meat.
  3. Reindeer herders specialized language about the anatomy of reindeer, muscles, tendons and skeletons – their stories and knowledge.
  4. Comparative investigations of different traditional methods to preserve and store reindeer meat, bone and blood for local food production in Sámi reindeer husbandry based on herders value (árvvut) and traditional knowledge reflecting specific food cultural requirement, animal categories and seasons, including stories connected to the bones and meat (Biehtarašdilljá, gánis) of reindeer and how they express knowledge about animal welfare and herders cultures and world view.
  5. Sámi traditional butchering technics compared to modern standards of slaughtering reflecting two ways of knowing and their effects on meat, blood and fat quality.

EALLU: Reindeer Herding Youth, Adaptation to Climate Change and Food Culture is a project that has been endorsed by the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group at the end of the Canadian chairmanship in 2015. EALLU is a Sámi word that translates into English as ‘herd’ and the project builds on the earlier work of the science project EALÁT, and the Arctic Council SDWG projects EALÁT Information and EALLIN. The goal of the EALLU project is investigate reindeer herders’ food culture through the lens of traditional knowledge, adaptation to climate change and youth and EALLU will combine academic work, education, seminars, food culture across Eurasia.

EALLU Presentation to the Arctic Council SDWG by International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry

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