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Reindeer Ranching and Trade

Long before cultures had developed in Sweden, Finland, or Norway - even before the Viking culture - the Scandinavian peninsula was inhabited by the Saemieh (now called "Sami" or "Saami").

During the Viking Age through the Middle Ages, these people occupied the northern 2/3 of what is now Sweden. There are ancient tales of long-lasting conflicts with the Vikings, but it is known that the Sami traded with both the Vikings and travelers from northern Europe. Click for more information

These contacts quickly advanced Sami culture beyond a stone age society. Animal hides and furs were traded for salt, coins (sometimes used as adornments) and metal blades. The unique Sami knifes developed their present form during this age.

In remote Arctic lands where farming or other activities were diffcult or impossible, the Sami developed a reindeer herding society. They have retained their own history, language, culture, livelihoods, way of life and identity, and even today, it is not uncommon to see reindeer herders in traditional tasseled hats and brightly decorated tunics.

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