The number of reindeer in Alaska has grown to about 600,000, but reindeer as an industry is on the wane. Nearly all the Native reindeer are now incorporated into village cooperative herds.
Sami from Kautokeino, Norway are recruited to help maintain the herd being brought into Canada. The group includes Mathis Hætta, Aslak Tornensis, his wife Suzanne Johanesdatter and their daughter, and Mikkel Nilson Pulk, his wife Anna and their three children Isak, Nils and baby Ellen. They become known as “The Canadian Sami.” Ellen will marry into an Inuvialuit family and later become the mayor of Inuvik, NWT.
The Sami are brought in because all the Sami herders have left Andrew Bær and only Alaska Native herders are still with him. The Lomans ask Isaac Hætta, now living in Kautokeino, to find additional Sami herders.
Per Thuuri (Turi), Mat Anderson and Lars Nelson, arrive in Alaska to work with reindeer. Per claims to be the first Swedish Sami to work in Alaska and remains there for the rest of his life. He settles near Naknek on the Alaska Peninsula.
Pressure builds towards allowing only Alaska Natives to own reindeer. The Lomens offer to sell their corporation to the government including all their animals, buildings and assets.
On February 25th, The Great Trek finally arrives in Kittigazuit, NWT on the Mackenzie River Delta with 2,382 reindeer. Only about 10% of the original herd has survived but new births along the way make up the difference. Because the area is not suitable for a large herd, the reindeer are moved 60 miles upstream where a new town called Reindeer Station is established.
Andy Bær returns to Seattle where “Andy Bær Day” is declared in his honor. He becomes known as “The Arctic Moses” but the honor is bittersweet. In his absence his property in Seattle has been foreclosed by the bank and his wife has been unable to stop the process. His life savings are wiped out and he is in effect “homeless.”
More Sami leave Alaska. The Tornensis, Bær, Hætta and other families move south to the Kitsap Peninsula and settle in the townships of Poulsbo, Kingston and Eglon. Some establish chicken farms and sell their produce in Seattle markets while others make their living by fishing.
Alfred Nilima moves back to Kautokeino and invests in a hotel.
John Nilima, now working as a storekeeper in Buckland for the Lomens, is shot in a robbery by a local Native man. He reportedly had good relations with the local people.
Twelve reindeer are shipped from Alaska to the Peter Hætta farm in Poulsbo. They are later shipped on to California.
The Reindeer Act places the management of the Alaska herds under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and transfers ownership of all reindeer to Native Alaskans. It is a devastating blow to the Alaska Sami. Ironically, the model for the Reindeer Act is the Swedish and Norwegian government policies towards the Sami, who have exclusive rights to own and work with reindeer in those countries. The Alaska Sami are forced to sell their reindeer at a loss, for three and four dollars a head. They feel the U.S. government has betrayed them. Those who have not married into Inupiaq and Yup’ik families leave for the Kitsap Peninsula.
All the reindeer not owned by Alaska Natives are rounded up. Many escape to become part of wild caribou herds and interbreed with them. The U.S. government buys the reindeer owned by Lomen and Company for a lump sum of $720,000.
The Alaska Native reindeer industry declines. The government has not allowed people to kill reindeer for their own use or to sell any of their animals but the steers. The year round extended-family management required by herding reindeer conflicts with the traditional Native subsistence cycles of hunting, fishing and trapping. Competition for grazing areas and the mixing of herds has also created problems.
In Finland, the Winter War is fought against the Russians, who seize and annex part of the districts of Finnish Lapland and Karelia. Nazis arrive to assist the Finns, but later they act as occupiers. The Finns then fight to force the Nazis out. The Nazis leave, burning everything they can in Finnish Lapland.
The Sámi BÁIKI Editorial & Subscription Office / The Sámi BÁIKI Library & Archives
1714 Franklin St, #100-311, Oakland, CA 94612-2408 USA
Telephone 510-355-8403 - saamibaiki(at)netzero(dot)net
Copyright © 2001-2020 BÁIKI: The International Sámi Journal. All rights reserved. www.baiki.org