Museum exhibit features Sami reindeer herders

Reindeer on highway in Alaska. (Photo by JLS Photography / Flickr)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Baranov Museum recently opened an exhibit that features the history and culture of Sami reindeer herders in Alaska.


Collections Manager Michael Bach says Sami people are native to the northern regions of of Scandinavia, Finland, and Russia.

He says in the late 1800s, the Department of the Interior paid Sami herders to travel to Alaska and teach the Inupiaq people how to keep reindeer, or domesticated caribou, as livestock.

In 1927, eight people started a business on the south end of Kodiak Island which became the Alitak Reindeer Company.

Bach says the herd grew to 3,000 reindeer.

“And then in 1950, there was a devastating fire that took place and decimated much of the range habitat for the herd and also dispersed the herd.”

He says today the herd size is up to 500 reindeer, which are open for hunting – as regular caribou would be.

Bach says the exhibit will be open for about three weeks and admission will be free as part of the First Friday art walk.

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