Reindeer herding in the area
Unna Tjerusj village
Unna Tjerusj village is one of four villages in Gällivare Municipality. A village is a geographical, economic and cultural association whose aim is to coordinate the management of members' reindeer. Same village pastures are located on the north side Lule rivers’ large lake and from north side of the Tysfjord to the railroad between Luleå and Gällivare. In 2007 there were approximately 5000 reindeer owned by approximately 100 shareholders in 40-century families.
Reindeer calves are born in the mountains around Ritsem. Then, as the snow melts away they move slowly west towards the Norwegian side, Mountain ridges provide Gálavárddo - summer pastures with rich herb and grass vegetation. Here calves and adult reindeer graze, fattening themselves ready for the autumn and winter back down in the forests.
Unna Tjerusj village has traditionally used the mountains for reindeer management. Here lies important summer grazing land, rich in grasses, sedges and herbs. As the snow melts the reindeer migrate westward towards the coast. Others migrate from the fjord areas. Warm summer days also drive the reindeer towards the glacier, Gihtsejiena, away from the mosquitoes and other flying insects.
At the end of August or in September, the reindeer are gathered and driven east to the slaughter and sorting area. Sometimes the helicopter herds the reindeer from Norwegian side.
More on Sami history in the area can be found in the Nature Guide - Gränsleden