Arctic Wisdom: Arctic Challenge Day Five

Fishing has always been important for the Sámi, both as a source of food and income.  For those who herd reindeer, fishing has saved them in years when the grazing is poor.  During the summer months, when many of the reindeer herders are living in isolated homes in the mountains, fish becomes the main source of food. In the autumn, it is common to catch fish and freeze them for the winter.

Over time a fishing trade became established where fish buyers used boats, helicopters and aeroplanes to buy fish from the families who lived and fished in the most distant mountain lakes.  Arctic char and whitefish were the most common species of fish caught for this ‘cash fishing’ that was most active during the 1970s.

These days the importance of cash fishing has declined and there are only a small number of Sámi who live solely from fishing, but fishing for an additional income is important.  Small- scale fishing is also very important to meet the nutritional needs of all households.

Arctic wisdom - Sami clothing

The traditional Sámi costume is called a kolt.  The kolt is an important identity symbol, especially for ceremonies like christenings, funerals and weddings.

The appearance of the kolt varies between different regions.  The way it is cut also differs depending on if it is a men’s or women’s, and sometimes depending on the owner’s age and status.  Fashion also plays a part in the differences between kolts today.

In the past, basic materials from reindeer and other animals with fur were used to make clothes at home, buying any other needed materials from tradesmen.

Traditional accessories for kolts include shoes, belts and,for women, shawls.  Storm collars, jewellery, gloves, trousers and caps are also worn.

Keep an eye out for any new fashions around Westminster!

Dog sled from Jarama – Rusuvarri fishing camp

This is the most challenging day yet as we sled to Rusuvarri, a fishing camp located in mountain and tundra terrain above the tree line. That means going uphill!

Times and distances will vary today for two reasons.  Firstly unpredictable weather, which could be made worse because the greater exposure means the wind could blow snow across the trail. That would make visibility difficult and slow our progress.  Secondly, the reindeer may make an appearance, and forcing us to loop round them.

On the up side, we will be travelling through some of the most dramatic scenery of the challenge- valleys, creeks and stunning mountain views.  No day-dreaming allowed though, we must be prepared to jump off our sleds to help the huskies get to the top of the sections.


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