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1910: There are now over 27,000 reindeer in Alaska.

1911: A small herd of reindeer is brought to Fort Smith, NWT, Canada.

1912: Congress declares Alaska a United States Territory.

1914: There is now a white missionary, a white schoolteacher, and a white fur trapper in every Native village in Alaska with a population over 100.

Some 35,000 to 60,000 reindeer are now in Alaska. Almost 30 separate reindeer herds now occupy the Seward Peninsula grazing lands. Carl and Alfred Lomen begin buying reindeer from the missions at Teller, Golovin and from several Sami herders.

Alfred Nilima’s contract to work as a herding instructor ends, allowing him to sell his herd of 1,200 reindeer based in Kotzebue, to the Lomen brothers. Their thriving enterprise is contrary to the rule that only Alaska Natives, Sami and the government can own female reindeer. The Lomens plan to promote the sale of reindeer meat and furs in the United States. Financed with gold money borrowed from Jafet Lindeberg, they form Lomen and Company and hire experienced Sami and Native herders. Anders Bær (Bahr) is put in charge. John Nilima, Alfred’s brother, also becomes a herder for the Lomens. The commercialized white-owned reindeer industry is born.

William Shields organizes the first Reindeer Fair in the village of Igloo, 40 miles from Teller. The fairs become annual events that feature reindeer races and competition in herding skills. Native herders are featured and they become popular sports celebrities.

1915: Leonard Seppala wins the All-Alaska Sweepstakes in Nome with his team of Siberian huskies and for the next three years he dominates the sport of mushing. Huskies, introduced to Alaska by the Chukchi, become known as the world’s finest sled dogs.

There are now 70,000 to 100,000 reindeer in Alaska divided into 98 herds. It is the heyday of the reindeer industry. Although Natives own 69% of the reindeer, their herds are usually made up of less than 50 reindeer. Sami herders, Lomen and Company, the U.S. Government and the missions own the remaining 31,000 reindeer.


Lomen Brothers photo - mail delivery using reindeer

1916: A reindeer camp is established at Savoonga, St. Lawrence Island. The reindeer herd that started there in 1899 with 42 animals at Gambell has grown to 10,000.

1917: In Trondheim, Norway a meeting of Sami delegates from Norway and Sweden is held on the 6th of February to discuss Indigenous rights. The date later becomes recognized as International Sami Day.

The Russian Revolution overthrows the Czar. Finland becomes an independent nation the next year. The border between Finland and Norway is opened again to Sami reindeer migration.

1918: There are more than 100,000 reindeer in Alaska divided into 98 herds. More than 1,500 Natives own reindeer. Reports show that 69%of the reindeer in Alaska are owned by Natives, 23% are owned by Sami, 5% are owned by missions and 3% by the government.

In December an influenza epidemic breaks out that lasts into January on the Seward Peninsula. The disease travels up the coast from when mail is delivered. Over 900 people die on the Seward Peninsula alone, including many Natives and non-Natives.

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