Scandinavia’s Sami Reindeer Herders
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi or Saami, are the Arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. Sami herders call their work boazovázzi, which translates as “reindeer walker,” and that’s exactly what herders once did, following the fast-paced animals on foot or wooden skis as they sought out the best grazing grounds over hundreds of miles of terrain. Times have changed. Herders are now assigned to specific parcels of the reindeer’s traditional grazing territories at designated times of the year.