(Photo taken from live feed 27 April 2017)
Reindeer husbandry is one of the traditional industries of the Sami in the inland areas of Northern Norway. For many people it is what they think of when they think of the Sami, but it should be mentioned that there are other Sami ways of life that are just as traditional, such as the fishing techniques used by the Sami along the the coast (these will be discussed in a later post, along with more detailed discussion of reindeer husbandry).
The reindeer spend the winter inland. A large flock is gathered, often made up of smaller flocks, and the herders look after their reindeer together throughout the winter. This grouping of herders and their families makes what is traditionally called a siida. Reindeer herding requires a lot of effort and the whole family will participate in caring for the animals. Siida can change from year to year, depending on who agrees to work with each other. In the spring, the reindeer are moved to their summer pasture, on islands along the Norwegian coast. This journey can cover long distances from inland to the sea. During the summer, the winter siida may be split up into smaller groups, or may combine with families from other siida.
Traditionally, reindeer herders would have contacts along the coast who guide the reindeer in their boats as they swim across to the islands. This still happens in some parts, but reindeer are now also transported in landing craft.
This spring, a Norwegian television channel, NRK, followed a reindeer flock on its migration to the coast. The flock of 1500 reindeer travelled about 170km. The flock belongs to a reindeer herding family, the Sara family, who come from Kautokeino in inland Norway.
You can watch the reindeer here (the link works from outside Norway, but a few people have said they have had to give it a couple of goes to get it to connect):
The reindeer travel day and night. They walk for about 6-7 hours, and then feed and rest for a few hours before moving on. Reindeer eat litchen, but this year the snow is very hard and it is difficult for them to dig down to it, so the reindeer herders are giving them pellets as extra food.
You can read more about the programme here:
(Part of the television channel’s equipment for following the reindeer)