World Reindeer Herders Congress in Kautokeino
On March 30 the largest international gathering of reindeer herders in the world got underway in grand style in Kautokeino. VIP’s arrived by reindeer taxi from the Thon Hotel and were treated to all kinds of local foods and an extensive display of handicrafts from around the world of reindeer husbandry.
Dignitaries that included Elisabeth Walaas, the Norwegian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, President of the Sami Parliament in Norway, Egil Olli, the State Secretary for Sami Affairs, Raimo Valle among others. Hundreds of people from across all the regions of the Sami area, reinder herders from Yamal Nenets, Taimyr, Buryatia, Sakha Yakutia, Chukotka, Mongolia, China and even representatives of reindeer husbandry in Scotland converged on the sports hall in Kautokeino.
Over 300 hundred entries were received for the Children of Reindeer Husbandry 2009 art competition from Norway, Sweden, Finland and all over Russia decorated the walls of hall.
World Reindeer Herders General Secretary Johan Mathis Turi gave participants an overview of world reindeer husbandry and this was followed by welcoming speeches by the VIP’s. The rest of the day was taken up with official business regarding the upcoming Kautokeino Declaration and organisational matters. The day finished with a feast of reindeer meat, marrow and tongues at Bulet Eco Siida where there were performances by the loal choir Dmitri Joavku and the renowed Sami rap group Duolva Duottar.
The International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) was established by the Norwegian Government in 2005 in Kautokeino, as a contribution to the unique international cooperation of circumpolar reindeer herding peoples. ICR is an independent professional unit, with its own board and budget. Its activity is funded by the Norwegian Government through annual grants from the budgets of the Ministry of Labor and Social Inclusion, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
By Philip Burgess – ICR