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Reindeer
(Caribou)

Elder Chief of Koyukuk and

Elder Chief of Koyukuk and chair for the Western Arctic Caribou Herd Working Group Benedict Jones, or K’ughto’oodenool’o’, represents the Middle Yukon River, Alaska. His grandmother was a member of the Caribou Clan, who travelled with the caribou as a means to survive. In 1939, they were living the traditional life style at one of their hunting camps in Koyukuk near the location of what is now the Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge. His grandmother made a pair of new mukluks in one day. K’ughto’oodenool’o’ recounted a story told by an elder, who "worked on the steamboats during the gold rush days out on the Yukon." In late August the caribou migrated from the Alaska Range up north to Huslia, Koyukuk and the Tanana area. One year when the steamboat was unable to continue they ran into a caribou herd numbering estimated at a million animals, migrating across Yukon. "They tied up for seven days waiting for the caribou to cross. They ran out of wood for the steamboats, and had to go back down 40 miles to the wood pile to pick up some more wood. On the tenth day, they came back and they said there was still caribou going across the river night and day."[29]

The Gwich'in, the indigenous people of northwestern Canada and northeastern Alaska, ha

The Gwich'in, the indigenous people of northwestern Canada and northeastern Alaska, have been dependent on the international migratory Porcupine caribou herd for millennia.[134]:142 To them caribou—vadzaih—is the cultural symbol and a keystone subsistence species of the Gwich'in, just as the buffalo is to the Plains Indians.[135] Innovative language revitalisation projects are underway to document the language and to enhance the writing and translation skills of younger Gwich'in speakers. In one project lead research associate and fluent speaker Gwich’in elder Kenneth Frank works with linguists which include young Gwich'in speakers affiliated with the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks to document traditional knowledge of caribou anatomy. The main goal of the research, was to "elicit not only what the Gwich'in know about caribou anatomy, but how they see caribou and what they say and believe about caribou that defines themselves, their dietary and nutritional needs, and their subsistence way of life."[135] Elders have identified at least 150 descriptive Gwich'in names for all of the bones, organs and tissues. Associated with the caribou's anatomy are not just descriptive Gwich'in names for all of the body parts including bones, organs, and tissues, but also "an encyclopedia of stories, songs, games, toys, ceremonies, traditional tools, skin clothing, personal names and surnames, and a highly developed ethnic cuisine."[135]

In the 1980s, Gwich'in Traditional Management Practices were established to protect the Porcupine caribou, upon which the Gwich'in people depend. They "codified traditional principles of caribou management into tribal law" which include "limits on the harvest of caribou and procedures to be followed in processing and transporting caribou meat" and limits on the number of caribou to be taken per hunting trip.[136]

The reindeer is the only domesticated deer in the world, though it may be more accurate to consider reindeer as semi-domesticated. Reindeer in northern Fennoscandia (northern Norway, Sweden and Finland) as well in the Kola Peninsula and Yakutia in Russia, are all[dubious ] semi-wild domestic reindeer (Rangifer tarandus f. domesticus), ear-marked by their owners. Some reindeer in the area are truly domesticated, mostly used as draught animals (nowadays commonly for tourist entertainment and races, traditionally important for the nomadic Sámi). Domesticated reindeer have also been used for milk, e.g. in Norway.

There are only two genetically pure populations of wild reindeer in Northern Europe: wild mountain reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) that live in central Norway, with a population in 2007 of between 6,000 and 8,400 animals;[137] and wild Finnish forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) that live in central and eastern Finland and in Russian Karelia, with a population of about 4,350, plus 1,500 in Arkhangelsk and 2,500 in Komi.[138]

DNA analysis indicates that reindeer were independently domesticated in Fennoscandia and Western Russia (and possibly Eastern Russia).[139] Reindeer have been herded for centuries by several Arctic and sub-Arctic peoples, including the Sami, the Nenets and the Yakuts. They are raised for their meat, hides and antlers and, to a lesser extent, for milk and transportation. Reindeer are not considered fully domesticated, as they generally roam free on pasture grounds. In traditional nomadic herding, reindeer herders migrate with their herds between coastal and inland areas according to an annual migration route and herds are keenly tended. However, reindeer were not bred in captivity, though they were tamed for milking as well as for use as draught animals or beasts of burden.[citation needed] [137] and wild Finnish forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) that live in central and eastern Finland and in Russian Karelia, with a population of about 4,350, plus 1,500 in Arkhangelsk and 2,500 in Komi.[138]

DNA analysis indicates that reindeer were independently domesticated in Fennoscandia and Western Russia (and possibly Eastern Russia).[139] Reindeer have been herded for centuries by several Arctic and sub-Arctic peoples, including the Sami, the Nenets and the Yakuts. They are raised for their meat, hides and antlers and, to a lesser extent, for milk and transportation. Reindeer are not considered fully domesticated, as they generally roam free on pasture grounds. In traditional nomadic herding, reindeer herders migrate with their herds between coastal and inland areas according to an annual migration route and herds are keenly tended. However, reindeer were not bred in captivity, though they were tamed for milking as well as for use as draught animals or beasts of burden.[citation needed] Domesticated reindeer are shorter-legged and heavier than their wild counterparts.[citation needed]