Reindeer Sami: A Strong Nature Connection


The Reindeer Sami were nomadic people as they moved their tents wherever they reindeer migrated through the 19th-20th centuries.  The Sami exhibit in Oslo, Norway’s Norsk Folkemuseum taught me how the Reindeer Sami not only connected to, but completely depended on, nature for their livelihood and survival.

The Sami are the indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Finland.  There are several kinds of Sami, each adapted to the sustenance that a location provides.  Present day geography and politics determine how much of their original culture shines through now.  For example, today Reindeer Sami may still have reindeer husbandry as a job, but that is challenging.  Modern development encroaches on reindeer pastureland.  After recent decades of fighting to keep their lifestyles alive, they are now officially respected as a culture.  However, modern influences still present a challenge to keep their native Sami roots.

The reindeer Sami made use of every part of a reindeer.  Their furs and hides became clothing, shoes and shelter to keep warm.  They were also traded for other goods.  The bones and antlers were used for tools and crafts.  Reindeer meat and bone marrow provided nutrition needed for survival in harsh environment where the winter gets as cold as -50 (Fahrenheit).  Although not an easy task, they even milked reindeer.

The Sami language and religion are nature-based.  In fact, there are 300 descriptors just for snow and ice!  We can all learn from the Reindeer Sami connection to nature.  They were- and still are- resourceful to make use of nature with a deep respect to the land.

Note:  I fly to Arctic Svalbard tomorrow morning, where I hope to see wild reindeer.  For now, the above museum picture will have to do!

5 thoughts on “Reindeer Sami: A Strong Nature Connection

  1. Pingback: Oslo:  A Capital City in the Forest / entry to Lindblad Expedition on National Geographic Explorer | Laura Schetter

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