Erika Larsen: Sámi, The People Who Walk With Reindeer
Erika’s uses photography, video and writing to learn intimately about cultures that maintain strong connections with nature. She began working professionally as a magazine photographer in 2000 specializing in human-interest stories and sensitive cultural issues. Her images have been published and exhibited internationally. Her work has been included in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, National Geographic Society, The Swedish Museum of Ethnography and Ajtte Sámi Museum. Larsen is a recipient of several grants and fellowships including a Fulbright Fellowship, New Jersey State Arts Council Fellowship, Women in Photography Individual Project Grant and the Lois Roth Endowment. Erika received a BFA and MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology.
Every day in the Arctic extremes play upon the lives of the Sámi, an indigenous group native to the Arctic Circle of northern Scandinavia and Russia–the largest area in the world with an ancestral way of life based on the seasonal migrations of the animals The Sámi are by tradition reindeer herders who have lived as nomads. Today only 10 percent of the Sámi population still works in reindeer husbandry, a business that is regulated by the European Union. By possessing a livelihood dependent on their surroundings, the herders must be acutely aware of changes in nature and more specifically the arctic landscape.
Living with the Sami, I have observed nature being at once both beautiful and brutal. Through their lives, I hope to better understand our role as stewards of the earth and recognize the cycles of life and death and the role of people within this circle.The Sami have managed to survive in extreme climatic circumstances for ages. As biodiversity, forest stability, water supplies and wildlife management become increasingly important global concerns, this community will be vital to understanding sustainability in the Arctic region.
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