Alaska Chronology


Balto Sisters, 1940
Poulsbo, Washington - 1940.
Balto Sisters (l-r) Sophie, Ellen, Mary and Anna.

The large Canadian herd is divided into four units of approximately 900 reindeer. Mikkel Pulk is put in charge of the project. His is the only Sami herding family left in Canada.


Clement Klementson and Nils Bongo from Unalakleet skipper a small tugboat, the Ada, for the Alaska Territorial Guard at the end of WWII. The military stop in villages to recruit Natives. A concern risesabout Native reindeer herders leaving their villages. Some herds suffer declines due to lack of care. The Unalakleet herd is down to 700 from 20,000 a few years before.

Traditional Sami winter boots are still being made in Unalakleet for local use and for sale in Nome.

Much of northern Norway and Finland burns as the Nazi troops retreat and start fires behind them. The war causes massive damage to Samiland and refugees flee to other places. Thousands of Skolt (Eastern) Sami emigrate to northern Finland. They are fleeing the Russian army, that now occupies the Skolt homeland and the town of Petsamo, which has been part of Finland.


The end of WWII brings a reversal to government policies in Norway. The renewal of Sami culture and language begins.


The U.S. government herding policies change on the Seward Peninsula and experienced Native herders are put in charge.


There are only 25,000 reindeer left in Alaska.

Anna & Tim Twitchell, Anchorage, 1950
Anchorage, Alaska - 1950.
Former herders Anna Spein Twitchell (Sami) and Tim Twitchell (Yup'ik).


In spite of the change in government policy, there are only 6,500 reindeer left on the Seward Peninsula.


The Nordic Sami Council is formed and meets in Jokkmokk, Sweden with delegates from Sami organizations of three countries.


Alaska is admitted to the Union as the 49th state.

The jurisdiction of the Canadian Reindeer Project is transferred from the Canadian Reindeer Program to the Canadian Wildlife Service, establishing seven large herds. From the beginning of the Reindeer Project in Canada, there have been just 66 Native Canadian herders, all from the Inuvik, NWT area.

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