Notes on Reindeer Nomadism

June 29, 2010

posted by Caroline Picard

I found this book, cover torn, pages still uncut, save for those places where they were attempted with a hand and torn irregularly. It’s from the American Anthropological Association. It looks to be some sort of anthropological memoir. In any case, some of the paragraphs strike me as curious little poems. For instance….

Excerpt from

Notes on Reindeer Nomadism

by Gudmund Hatt

Interesting as this fact is, illustrating the uniformity of reindeer nomadism, we must not forget that not all reindeer nomads use the reindeer for draught…

Typical reindeer drivers are the Lapp, Samoyed, Ostyak, Vogul, Koryak, and Chukchi. Typical reindeer riders are the Soyot, Karagas, and Tungus. Both reindeer riding (in summer) and reindeer driving (in winter) are practices by some northern Tungusians, the riendeer breeding Yakut, the Yukaghir, and even by a few Chukchi and Koryak who live in close proximity to the Tungus.

Accordingly, reindeer riding and reindeer driving have their areas of distribution partly overlapping, yet quite distinct. The are of reindeer riding thrusts wedge-shaped into the area of reindeer driving. This peculiar form of distribution gives support to the opinion set forth on historical grounds by Laufer (p. 118), that reindeer driving is an older form than reindeer riding.

That reindeer riding was first practiced by ” a tribe that had gained some experience with horses” (Laufer, p. 140) is confirmed by the fact mentioned above that the reindeer saddle bears a fundamental similarity to the horse saddle of the Altai people. The question lies close at hand:

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