Reindeer Fences

Fences are the most visible part of the reindeer herding culture. There are border fences between states and reindeer herding cooperatives. They are designed to prevent reindeer from going to wrong areas. Inside the cooperative areas, there are round up and grazing fences.

Reindeer herding fences can be permanent or transferable. The round up fences have different parts that are called siula, pid√§tys, sy√∂tt√∂aita, kaarre, kirnu and konttori. Siula is a long fence that directs reindeer towards the big fence called sy√∂tt√∂aita. Through that reindeer continue to kaarre and from that to kirnu. In the kirnu (‚Äúchurn‚ÄĚ) reindeer are registered, medicated and separated from the ones to be slaughtered and the ones let out alive. Slaughtered reindeer are moved to small fences called ‚Äúkonttori‚ÄĚ. Reindeer are slaughtered after the roundup.

The old fence of Sallivaara cooperative. Image: Reindeer Herders' Association.

The location of the old reindeer fence in Sallivaara (Kansalaisen karttapaikka, map location).

There are differences in the names of fences and structures in different parts of the reindeer husbandry area. The word kaarre has been used in the 1930s in Enontekiö, Muonio, Kolari, Turtola, Kittilä, Inari, Sodankylä, Savukoski and Kemijärvi areas. In the southern reindeer husbandry area fences have been called poropelto i.e. reindeer fields. This is because open meadows or fields have been easy to use for gathering reindeer. Due to the natural fertilization, the fences have started to grow hay. Back in the days, reindeer fields have also been used as farmland (Kortesalmi 2008).