A ‘Summit’ for Reindeer

Woman in camouflage jacket stands on grassy tundra next to huddle of children.

Reindeer herding is the “only viable northern agricultural pursuit,” says Nome-area herder Ann Davis, “and reindeer are fun!” Plus, they’re good for the subsistence economy; their meat is a source of sustenance, and reindeer parts like hooves and hide can be used for arts and crafts.

Earlier this summer, Ann and husband Bruce hosted a “summit” introducing local youth to their line of work: reindeer herding at their Midnite Sun Reindeer Ranch.

Reindeer herding has a value that’s perhaps even greater than its economic benefits: it keeps alive generations of indigenous subsistence knowledge and tradition. It’s a distinctively Western Alaska profession, and as the Davises tell KNOM listeners, the kids love it.

Image at top: Jackie Hrabok-Leppajarvi of the University of Alaska–Fairbanks shows kids how to lasso. Photo: Katie Kazmierski, KNOM.

A close-up of a reindeer grazing on tundra grass
A reindeer at the Davises’ ranch. Photo: Mitch Borden, KNOM.