Lapland
In My Heart

The snowmobile is an important part of modern Sami life


The snowmobile

The snowmobile was invented in 1958. In Lapland the snowmobile (or snow scooter) meant a revolution to the Lapps and even the Lapp culture in a matter of 15-20 years. Today the snow scooter is an integrated part of Lapp culture.

The snowmobile was first introduced to Lapp herders in Finland in 1961. They saw many of the advantages of the snowmobile. Small herds of reindeer could be gathered and driven by one man on a snowmobile. During one winter the snowmobile could save the herders thousands of work hours.

The snowmobile could also be used as an easy means of transportation to supplement the reindeersÂ’ diets with hay and other farm-raised foodstuffs when reindeer had problems reaching the lichen due to deep snow or ice layered ground. In the long run, though, the snowmobile meant the death of traditional, intensive herding.

In modern reindeer herding the herders travel between their modern permanent homes and their flocks. Modern reindeer herding is almost fully mechanized with the snowmobile and ATV being necessary equipment for the herders. All reindeer household have at least 2-3 snowmobiles. This shows the importance to the Lapps of this new vehicle.

Others technological aides

in reindeer herding have been binoculars, two-way radios, and of course the cellular phones. These gadgets helped a lot in locating reindeer and coordinating herding activities. The last technological advance is obviously the GPS.

Fewer workers and less time are needed to accomplish the same tasks today than earlier. The snowmobile was an expensive vehicle, so the richest herders were the first one to use this technology.

Modern transportation technology have also made life in the summer camps more modernized as building materials as well as foods and goods is easily transported by ATVs or even helicopters and amphibious planes.

The negative effects

are associated with the cost of purchasing and maintaining vehicles. Many herders have been forced to have a job in addition to herding to meet these costs of buying and maintaining snowmobiles and other vehicles.

In recent years the detrimental environmental and ecological impacts of snowmobiles causing damage to sensitive lichen pastures and other arctic flora, has been heavily debated.

Where the Reindeer Roam


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