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The Challenges of Arctic Reindeer Herding: The Interface between Reindeer Herders Traditional Knowledge and Modern Understanding of the Ecology, Economy, Sociology and Management of Sami Reindeer Herding

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Eira, Inger Marie G.; Magga, Ole Henrik; Bongo, Mathis P.; Sara, Mikkel Nils; Mathiesen, Svein D.; Oskal, Anders
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/968
Sector: Wildlife
Region: Europe
Former Soviet Union
Subject(s): indigenous knowledge
indigenous institutions
Sámi (European people)
Abstract: "Sami reindeer herding is practiced in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. More than 20 arctic indigenous peoples, herd reindeer in the circumpolar North including 100,000 herders and about 2.5 million semi- domesticated reindeer. Sami reindeer herding represents roughly one third of the worlds reindeer herding and its traditional practices, ancient in origin, represent models sustainable of exploitation and management northern terrestrial ecosystems that is based on in generations of traditional knowledge accumulated, conserved, developed and adapted to the climatic and administrative systems of the north. "Reindeer herders in the Arctic today face global challenges related to changes in their societies, including changes in traditional land use (loss of grazing land) and climate change. Simultaneously, there are restrictions on the practice of traditional knowledge, restrictions that could either turn reindeer herders into 'lawbreakers', or could make their societies more vulnerable to the changes at hand. "This paper reports preliminary results from the IPY EALAT project which adopts a novel methodological approach in analyzing the multi- functional nature of S���¡mi reindeer herding. The EALAT project is a multidisciplinary project research and it integrates research, outreach and education. "Recognizing that the ability to adapt to change is based on the traditional and indigenous knowledge base and traditional institutions within S���¡mi reindeer herding, it is decisive that modern reindeer herding regimes recognizes this as a starting point. This article exemplifies the challenges that traditional reindeer herding faces in the interface of traditional and modern understandings of the ecology, economy, sociology and management of reindeer herding in Finnmark, Norway. These aspects will be discussed in the light of the traditional organization of reindeer herding, the traditional handling of reindeer, animal welfare, slaughtering and food production and the knowledge base surrounding the livelihood. It is critical to empower indigenous peoples with the best technologies available that can be combined with indigenous knowledge for advancing the development of sustainable development of reindeer herding. It is essential therefore that education and management institutions are transformed in order that they are able to use and understand reindeer herders traditional knowledge."

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