Culture in Enontekiö would be nothing without nature. Elements of the traditional and nomadic cultures can still be seen today.
Enontekiö was already settled in the early Stone Age, some 8000 years ago. The first people in Enontekiö were hunters and fishers. Reindeer herding became an important livelihood in the last half of the 17th century. The reindeer is a semi-domesticated arctic animal that pastures in search of its food. Reindeer herders were nomads, following the reindeer herds. The nomadic way of life has disappeared elsewhere in Lapland, but it lives on in Enontekiö.
Enontekiö herders own 20,000 reindeer
Reindeer herding is still an important livelihood for us. There are about 20,000 reindeer in Enontekiö. The reindeer pasture freely, but every animal has an owner, indicated by an earmark. Herding reindeer requires a deep understanding of both nature and reindeer, the knowledge being handed down from one generation to the next. Gathering the herd for earmarking in the summer is a good example of these skills. Today’s reindeer herding makes use of the modern technology ranging from snowmobiles to GPS devices.
Reindeer has played an important role in traditional handicrafts, either as a source of inspiration or as a source of raw materials. Bones and horns of reindeer have been used as a raw material of tools and jewellery as long as the bond between human and reindeer has existed. Tanned leather of reindeer, sisna, has been used in making pieces of clothing, different kinds of bags and shoes, from all the way back until today. Leather is still tanned in respect of traditions, but sewing methods have occurred some changes. Sisna gets its beautiful, warm brown color from willow tannic, and long elaboration phase with multiple steps makes it feel pleasant and soft.
Nature will provide
Elements of the old livelihood – hunting, fishing and berry picking – are still part of our life. Cloudberries and grouse in particular are highly wanted products from Lapland. Thus, they don’t only mean food for us, but also bring in a bit of extra income. Berries, herbs and plants in Lapland grow in arctic circumstances and ripe under the midnight sun, which gives them high concentration of nutrients, cloudberry one of the most popular of these superfoods of Lapland.