Rådjebalges/Gränsleden Guiding Course – Part 1

Yes George and Chuck, I had a really great time ;>)

For the first three days of the course I stayed in a small cabin at Ritsem

There are four cabins which can hold from 4 -6 people

and each has a small kitchen area and a wood burning stove

Our first two days of learning were based in the church at Ritsem.

Ingar and Anna Kuoljok were our first tutors; Anna talking about first aid and dealing with emergency situations and Ingar leading the main lesson on Sami history.

We covered four main periods in Sami history;

Before 1550 – Sami people are thought to have lived further south in Europe during the last Ice Age and as the ice retreated they chose to move north following the ice while others settled and adopted an agricultural way of living.

There is much evidence of Sami habitation in Lapland prior to 1550 (though its not thought that they were herding Reindeers until later in this period).  These include false graves (large holes dug into the ground , which animals such as Reindeer or Moose were then driven into and slaughtered to provide meat), ceremonial activities and places were offerings were made to the gods or where animal remains were placed as a sign of respect to some of the animals they were eating (as an example the bones of the bear were burnt to allow the spirit to pass on.  The bear has been described as 1 mans brain and 12 mans muscles).

Its not known when the domesticating of Reindeer first took place, but they may first have been used as “beasts of burden”.  When herding Reindeer it was important to know the area being used very well, manage the animals (including  population) and work together with other adjacent herders.

The Sami people in the Ritsem area were milking their Reindeer and this was an important trading product with people in Norway and those using the coastal area.  Trading items found here have included items from both Russia and Britain.

More soon….

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