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Merlin Henry is Iñupiaq from Koyuk, Alaska. In the 1930s, his grandfather was chief reindeer herder for Koyuk and in 1960 his father, Archie Henry, became a reindeer herder with animals he transported from Deering and Candle, Alaska. Merlin did not attend school because his father needed help with the reindeer herd. Merlin entered the military and left the region, but eventually returned home to help his father. When his father passed away in 1981, Merlin took over the reindeer herding operation. In the 1990s, infiltation of caribou and wolf predation crashed his herd, but in the mid-2000s, with help from the Reindeer Research Project, efforts were made to re-establish the herd.