Sustainability from the Perspective of Reindeer – pt 1

In this time of climate crisis and the rapidly extincition of species, its been shown that Indigenous peoples knowledge has a huge role to play for the world. The Interngovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that in their latest report released this February this year. In short the report summerized that the world leaders aren’t doing enough to put in place the strong efforts that the world needs to sustain life for all.

A few years ago the World Bank released a study showing that 80 % of the worlds biodiversity is located on Indigenous peoples´ land.. and that Indigenous peoples are only 5 % of the total human population. I would say that the Indigenous Peoples have done incredibly well in relation to the world leaders. What is it then that we are doing differently from the major society? I will try to give you some food for thought in Indigenous knowledge and our worldview. What is it that makes the reindeer a key player in the Arctic? 

But first, you might be curious about who I am. My name is Jannie Staffansson and I live in Forshällan close to the lake Purkijaur, with my life partner and our animals. Im not from here, but grew up in Eajra (Idre) in the southern part of Saepmie, in Dalarna. I was blessed to grow up closely to the reindeer, and she is still a big part of my life. Although now I live in Tuorpon reindeer husbandry community. It’s fair enough to say that the reindeer have made me into who I am. I have always heard people stating that “we will do what’s best for the reindeer” as a guiding principle. Not only from reindeer herders, but also from elders and other saami in our are. That guiding principle- do what’s best for the reindeer- has helped me find my path through life.

Maybe the most challenging part with that guide is the fact that the reindeer doesn’t speak. She doesn’t tell you what’s best for her, what her needs are or what she wants. However she communicates. If you learn how to listen. Learning how to listen will take years, some might never learn it. It is difficult to listen. One shortcut that’s tempting to take is that of asking others who have learnt the needs of reindeer- knowledge holders. But in our culture, its not always you get an answer when you show up with a question to an elder. They might show you, or show you something else. Or stay silent with a glistening eye or give you a story. That frustrated me as a child. I was schooled in the Swedish school system that always provided you with an answer whenever a question raised. Answers that I often forgot as soon as I heard them, and went on to solving the next assignment. Teachers saying that one need to hear something three times in order to remember it. Though In my experience, whenever I actually figured out the answer to my late grandfathers riddle, I remembered it. In that process of learning I also learnt other lessons. As how to be observant, to use my mind, to watch and see the connections in nature and around me.

To listen.  

Blog by Jannie Staffansson. Photos are private.