Reindeer herding

A fine drizzle is falling and the mountains are hidden in the fog. But the tranquility is suddenly killed by the helicopter, the motorcycles and the four wheelers. The engines are roaring forcing the reindeer heard to rush down from the mountainside, towards the corrals at the high plateau of Stekenjokk.*
Reindeers are always running counter clockwise in a big vortex. Hour after hour they are running with clicking hoofs and deep brawls from thousand throats. Jingle bells are clinking over the deep bass of the bellowing.

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A clock that runs counter clockwise goes backwards in time. But the reindeers have always been running forward when running counter clockwise. So here they are running backwards and forwards at the same time—so that the future will not forget the past.

Standing in the middle of all this, it feels like the earth is moving under ones feet. The heard running towards you and flows around you as a stream. At first I doubt that the wall of animals will avoid me standing right in their way. But everything is flowing smooth. Exept the small calfs that are bouncing around a little surprised.

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I’m here in company with a photographer from Mineapolis, USA. Here she is squeezed against the fens in the smallest corral, where they select some bulls to slaughter.
Samis are the cowboys of Sweden. They are driving their herds across the country and have to make their job their lifestyle. At the same time they are the ”indians” of Sweden. Sami are the native scandinavians who were forced away when the swedes wanted the country. And now they are living in the margins, on the eve of eradication.

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With long tarpaulins a flock is divided from the big heard. They are forced to check in to a waiting corral to enter the last selection to slaughter or to be let free.

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Here in Skog we may have reindeers visiting as they move between winter and summer grazing grounds.
This is a flock outside our house in 2014.

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Credits to my old primary school friend Paul Fjällström, the reindeer herder, and his sons Neila and Mattias who invited us.
Paul is a reindeer keeper in Vilhelmina north. The others were members of Vilhelmina south.

* The name Stekenjokk means the creek where reindeers are gathering.

Stanley Almqvist
reindeer eater