Sami culture and reindeer husbandry
Skarvan and Roltdalen National Park is important for the Sami people’s culture and utilisation of food resources.
The Sami are among the world’s indigenous people. Up to the 17th century, the Sami culture was based on hunting and catching. They moved on a seasonal basis in predetermined patterns to exploit different sources of food. Hunting for reindeer was important in order to get food and hides, but they also had tame reindeer that were used as pack animals and as decoy reindeer when they hunted for wild reindeer. From the 17th century, reindeer husbandry became the main industry of the Sami people and they increased their herds and began the transition to more specialised reindeer husbandry. Entire families moved with the reindeer herd and lived in gamme (turf huts) or lavvu (traditional Sami herdsmen’s tents) in different places throughout the year. They were basically self sufficient.
Today the Sami people practice reindeer husbandry throughout Northern Norway and as far south as Femunden. The entire Skarvan and Roltdalen National Park is part of the Essand reindeer grazing area (Saanti sijte). The reindeer grazing area is bordered by the Meråker and Stjørdalsføret in the north, Leksa and Tømra in the west and Nea and Tydalsføret in the south and to the Swedish border in the east. The area is used in spring, summer and autumn, from mid April through to autumn/pre-Christmas. The winter grazing area is common with the Femunden reindeer grazing area and is in parts of the municipalities of Røros, Os and Engerdal.
Roltdalen is an extremely important grazing area for reindeer and functions as the gathering area for calf marking, slaughter and moving. The area is also regarded as extremely interesting from a Sami cultural history perspective. The reindeer has seasonal migrations between winter and summer grazing areas which vary according to weather and snow conditions. In the main, the same migratory routes are used year after year.
The reindeer husbandry industry is reliant on areas being preserved in tact to the greatest extent possible and untouched by technical installations. Maintenance of the reindeer grazing areas and intrusions are viewed as the industry’s greatest current and future challenges.
Reindeer with two calves. Photo: Aina Bye