Well, again, since I’ve blogged, a lot has happened. Firstly, I broke my computer, and I’m still in the process of recovering my photos… I also joined a really cool anthropology field expedition that will go to Nenets Autonomous Okrug in Russia Feb. 12-March 3 to study indigenous land use and ethnicity under conditions of climate change and industrial development. Afterwards I hope to stay in Russia on my own, because I also took a train from Rovaniemi to Helsinki and acquired a 90-day Russian visa in 2 days, which I think must be a record for speed. And in celebration, I took a ferry with my dad (who was in Helsinki by coincidence), to Estonia. For a wonderful weekend, we toured around bogs, forests, and old cities with buildings from every period of the last 1000 years, and learned about how many times the Estonians have been conquered by Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, Germans, and Russians. It’s not the Arctic, but it was a fun and productive vacation weekend to learn about post-Soviet development in an old USSR country. Estonia seems to be thriving.
And then I began a quick bus, taxi, ferry, train, taxi, bus, and taxi trip across the Baltic and north through Finland to Kautokeino, Norway, (or wikipedia here) a center of Sami culture and reindeer herding in the center of Sápmi, the red area on the map. I’m really interested in learning about how herding differs in VERY wealthy Norway as compared the mountainous South Siberian forests (Tuva) or European Russian Arctic (Nenets). In Kautokeino I’ve been staying with a schoolteacher whose husband was supposed to bring his deer to the butcher in town yesterday or today, which is why I came so quickly. However, as is usual with Arctic peoples or wild animals, things change, so yesterday I rode behind her brother on his snowmobile while he made his daily check on his reindeer herd, dispersed in meadows across the frozen river. But today he went alone to move his reindeer to a new pasture and cull a sick calf, both of which I would’ve liked to see… Everyone has suggested I need to buy a snowmobile, about which I’m not so confident. We’ll see. I was able to help him butcher two of his reindeer in the snow under the headlight of a snowmobile, since the sun is only up for an hour or two.
About this blog
Eaten Earth will be a location for occasional photos, thoughts about the state of the world, and updates on my roaming through Arctic regions.
The title: I feel as though our species is consuming the Earth. As a way of thinking about how to change that, I'll focus on one of the strongest, most culturally important, and most malleable ways we interact with our planet- the actual eating of its bounty. How people eat, what it means for them, and what it means for the Earth, will be an undercurrent to my entire travels. - Alex