Sami in Alaska

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Laplanders milking reindeer, Port Clarence, Alaska, 1900

The Sami were first brought to Alaska in order to teach reindeer husbandry to the Inuit. The U.S. government encouraged this immigration beginning in 1894 to 1898, so that Alaska Natives would rely on reindeer rather than seal, walrus, and whale hunting.[1][2]

In 1937, the Sami and all other non-Native Alaskans were banned from owning reindeer. The Reindeer Act was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 1 of that year. The act effectively prohibited the ownership of reindeer herds in Alaska by non-Native Americans. The act was intended to provide for Alaskan natives and to allow them to establish a self-sustaining industry.[3] Authority to promulgate rules regarding the ownership and maintenance of reindeer herds was delegated to the Bureau of Indian Affairs via the Secretary of the Interior, who banned most transactions to non-natives.[4] The act was modeled in part on Norwegian and Swedish policies on the ownership of reindeer by the Sami people of Lapland (Sápmi). Many Sami had arrived in Alaska to manage the reindeer in the 1930s. The Alaskan Sami were required to sell their herds to the government, and many left Alaska after doing so.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sami in North America". Milwaukee Public Museum. Archived from the original on 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
  2. ^ "The Sami Reindeer People of Alaska" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
  3. ^ "25 USC § 500 - Purpose". Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
  4. ^ "Reindeer in Alaska". Federal Register. March 11, 2004. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
  5. ^ "Alaska Chronology 1930-1939". International Sami Journal. Retrieved 2013-06-19.

External links[edit]