Wednesday, December 10, 2008

since Christmas is coming, let's talk about reindeer

still from The Last Yoik in the Sami Forests?
The reindeer of Samiland are like the Canadian caribou, except the animals of North America are wild. And like the caribou, the reindeer, and the forests and tundra of the lands of the indigenous peoples of northern Europe and Canada, suffer from romanticization, exploitation, abuse, the dire effects of climate change, and human disregard and disrespect.

Does Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer know that his kin are in trouble?

Canadian caribou are in a steep decline, but does this news ring out like Jingle Bells?

"The massive Beverly herd, which roams the tundra from northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan and well into the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, once numbered about 276,000. But a just-released survey suggests the number of caribou cows on the calving grounds of the massive Beverly herd have fallen by 98 per cent over the past 14 years."

Last Yoik in Sami Forests?, a documentary by Hannu Hyvönen, tells of the effects of neoliberal corporate greed and consumer apathy on the much beloved reindeer of Samiland.

You can watch The Last Yoik in Sami Forests? on YouTube. I recommend watching the Epilogue first.

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

part 5

part 6


rauna said...

Thank you Taina for this post and links to the documentary which is about another shameful story from Finland and about Finnish Sami policy. The herds of the two Sami brothers who want to practice traditional reindeer herding were almost force-slaughtered earlier this year and now the case is being fought in courts. See and

northshorewoman said...

thank you, Rauna, for the links. It is shocking about the reindeer and their terrible predicament. This is why I get so crazy when only the romanticized aspects are promoted. The many stories are rarely brought to the public eye, and when they are, people look upon the teller as a party pooper. As if knowing more aspects of something could be wrong.

northshorewoman said...

Reading those links you included, well, it is just shocking! I can't believe the court ruled against the Paadar brothers. How will the 3 brothers ever afford to pay e100,000?!!! Not only that, the whole issue, complicated as it is (great article by Mari Manninen), is so unfair to the few that are truly concerned about the reindeer and their habitat. I guess no one cares about old man's beard (the lichen) either. I hope this case goes back to court, but then again, courts are a system made to support institutional power, and too many times, the courts are afraid to set precedences that will mean truly opening up these complicated issues, especially about land and who owns it/it belongs to.

northshorewoman said...

On the Reindeer blog, I also read that the Svalbard reindeer herd is suffering a loss of calves, which called to mind the report on the decline in numbers of caribou in Canada that I had linked to:

“Our research shows that less than ten percent of the females got calfs this year. In a normal year this number is around 80 percent. That makes 2008 the worst year for Svalbard reindeer since 1996″