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2001: The Kawerak Reindeer Herder Association (RHA) now serves 18 private Native herd owners and 3 tribal councils in the Bering Sea Region. Herds are at or near Nome, Teller, Stebbins, Shaktoolik and St. Lawrence island with 62% of Alaska’s 40,000 reindeer still in the Bering Straits region.
2003: The “Finnmark Bill” is introduced in the Norwegian Parliament in April. It would give control of the management of the land and natural resources there to a government agency and grant the Native Sami no special rights to their ancestral homeland.
2004: “The Sami, Reindeer People of Alaska” exhibit opens in April at the Yup’ik Museum in Bethel, Alaska on the Kuskokwim River where several of the Alaska Sami families established large herds. The exhibit includes photographs of the Reindeer Project herders and their life in Alaska and involves many of their descendants.
“The Sami, Reindeer People of Alaska” exhibit moves to the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage to join their “Living With the Land and the Sea” exhibit on Alaska Native subsistence. In September the exhibit moves to the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak.
2005: The exhibit is moved to the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum in Nome from February to September.
May 2005: The long debated “Finnmark Act” passes in the Norwegian Parliament. It transfers 96% of Finnmark County’s land area from the government to the citizens of Finnmark. A new administrative governing body for the province is to be formed that will consist of a board of six representatives. Three will be appointed by the Samediggi (Norwegian Sami Parliament) and three by the Finnmark County Council. Collective and individual rights in the province, as well as Sami land and water rights, which have been in question for the past 25 years, will be some of the important issues facing this new agency. The new laws represent a compromise between the Native Sami, and four major Norwegian political parties. (Some earlier drafts of the bill did not give the Sami any certain representation). The new laws do not please all the Sami, however, they do represent an opportunity for the Sami to have a significant say in the future of a large area of the Sami homeland.
Three Alaska Reindeer Project family reunions are held in three different places during the month of October! The weekend of October 8h, at Trollhaugen Lodge, outside of Seattle, Washington, with many Alaska family members present.
In Kautokeino, Norway on October 29th seventy eight descendents of Ellen Marie Mortensdatter and Nils Persen Sara met at a Klementson family reunion. Many Alaska Klementsons settled in Unalakleet, Alaska and married into Inupiaq families.
And on October 30th, in Lahpoluoppal, Norway, the Sara family had a big reunion.
2006: "The Sami: Reindeer People of Alaska" slideshow is presented to the Saami Council meeting in Røros, Norway, October by Baiki staff Faith Fjeld, Ruthanne Cecil and Nathan Muus.
2008: The Manitoba Reunion historic uniting of familiy members from North America and Sapmi at Easter happened in Kautokeino and Kasasjok, Norway. Relatives from Alaska, Seattle, Oslo and other locations joined together for the Easter celebration events including: weddings, smaller family reunions, film festival, confirmations, special dinners, music events, reindeer racing, great food and fun.
2012: In December The Sami Reindeer People of Alaska expanded exhibit will be featured at Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum, Decorah, Iowa through November 10, 2013.
End Note: The Sami usually learned to speak Yup’ik or Inupiaq and some Natives learned to speak Sami. They were respected for their herding and teaching abilities, but there was some tension between the Sami status as teachers and the Native status as apprentices. The Sami received better benefits and more incentives; an apprentice could not slaughter a reindeer for any reason, but a teacher could. The Sami also received better reindeer loan arrangements from the missions. Many second generation Alaska Sami married into Yup’ik and Inupiaq families. Their descendants often know little about the Sami part of their heritage.