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Larry Davis
Larry Davis

Larry Tingook Davis was interviewed on January 24, 2001 by Greg Finstad, Knut Kielland and Bill Schneider at the Reindeer Herder's House in Nome, Alaska. Pete Terzi, who works with the Reindeer Herders Project, was also present. The interview was facilitated by Greg who has worked with Larry for a long time. In this interview, Larry talks about early days of herding, modern herding, and also about the reindeer crash before World War II and the current crisis. He also discusses the importance of herding to community and family life.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-102-03

Project: Reindeer Herding: The Present and the Past
Date of Interview: Jan 24, 2001
Narrator(s): Larry Tingook Davis
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Knut Kielland, Greg Finstad
People Present: Pete Terzi
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Science Foundation
Alternate Transcripts
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1) History of reindeer herding in the Davis family.

2) Reindeer herding with his dad, community involvement, and reindeer companies.

3) A herder's typical winter, how the chief herder makes decisions, and working the herd.

4) Gathering on Seward Peninsula to handle the deer.

5) When working with reindeer everyone had a job and traveling with his father.

6) People coming to work with reindeer and what they did.

7) Jobs during corralling.

8) Payment system and the reindeer crash around World War II.

9) Causes of over-population and walking with reindeer.

10) Caribou coming into the Seward Peninsula and changes in the environment.

11) The changes that occur around freeze-up.

12) How Larry got started in reindeer herding.

13) Bringing the deer back from Cape Espenberg.

14) A typical year herding in the early days.

15) Watching reindeer closely in Siberia and different systems of working with reindeer.

16) How caribou are impacting the reindeer industry.

17) Future of the reindeer industry and the social impact.

18) Fond memories of reindeer herding.

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: introduction\ Shishmaref\ Deering\ father -- chief herder\ company herds\ Buckland\ corral -- reindeer\ community -- herding\ reindeer herding -- changes\ wintertime\ dog team\ shepherd dogs|

Section 2: Goodhope, Fred -- had herd up at Cape Espenberg\ reindeer herd\ wintertime\ summertime\ community -- works together\ Deering\ Seward Peninsula\ Nome\ individuals -- some had herds\ community owned herds\ company\ chief herders\ Thomas, Mickey -- President\ chief herder -- Larry's dad\ Karmun, Alfred -- secretary|

Section 3: goldmines -- shut down\ November -- below zero\ freeze-up\ snow\ chief herder -- told herders where to go\ rotate herds\ slaughter\ meat\ miners\ handling deer\ corrals\ marking\ castrating\ inventory\ herd -- different brands\ old days -- herd mixed up\ Seward Peninsula\ Wales\ home ranges\ deer located -- middle of Seward Peninsula|

Section 4: gather -- February to mid-April\ reindeer meat -- plenty\ dogs -- feel good\ butcher bulls -- dog meat\ steers -- for humans\ handling deer\ Deering\ 25,000 head\ dog teams\ snowmachines\ spotter planes\ villages -- come together\ herders\ cook for herders\ stew|

Section 5: job -- everyone had own\ bull handlers\ deer -- marking\ chute -- working in\ slaughters\ today -- faster airplanes\ helicopters\ snowmachine\ father -- took Larry to villages\ Shishmaref\ Wales\ grandparents\ aunts and uncles\ Deering\ corraling\ work -- daylight hours|

Section 6: family\ everyone worked\ log cabin\ Deering\ tents\ meat\ sinew\ leg skin\ hide\ village\ meat -- take lots of it\ keeping track\ records\ business\ recent years -- transportation changed a lot\ four-wheelers\ easier but still tough|

Section 7: jobs -- same as the old days\ skills\ callers -- fast mind\ spot deer\ marks on ear\ callers -- sex of the animal\ main bull fighters\ wrestle bull\ castraters\ activity\ castraters -- call out kind of animal they had\ tallyers -- kept track of what's going on\ bull fighters\ wild|

Section 8: time hours\ secretary -- keeps track\ corral -- amount of time you spend there\ necessities -- take home\ cash -- no need\ flour\ sugar\ milk\ gloves\ tobacco\ today -- paid in cash\ trade -- no more\ cash -- today's economy\ barder and trade\ reindeer crash\ deer -- plenty\ wolf packs -- loss from\ caribou -- mixing\ food -- depleted source\ reindeer -- decline fast\ reindeer -- company tried to save\ watch deer\ walk everywhere\ springtime -- 24 hour shifts\ reindeer got away -- crew went after them|

Section 9: over-population\ predators\ wolves\ caribou\ reindeer\ Deering\ meat\ companies\ paid in shares\ permit to shoot animals\ walking with reindeer\ work -- 24 hour shifts\ hard work\ deer -- chase it if it got away\ deer -- brought close to camp\ walk home\ staying awake\ camp -- boring\ springtime\ ducks -- hunt|

Section 10: Salmon Lake\ one caribou\ corral\ caribou -- shot\ leader\ search for feed\ environment changing\ old days -- weather colder\ Deering\ freeze-up -- solid by November\ today -- mild\ rivers -- open\ travel -- hard to do|

Section 11: snow\ old days -- snowed less\ thaws out\ soft wet snow\ today -- freezes all the way to the ground\ feed -- tough for the reindeer to get\ caribou\ Seward Peninsula\ caribou -- taking feed away from the reindeer|

Section 12: Nome\ 1967 -- started reindeer herding\ Selawik\ Nome\ Bureau of Indian Affairs\ Juneau\ loan\ range\ herd\ first deer from Cape Espenberg\ model herd -- established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs\ Kotzebue\ Cape Espenberg\ Goodhope herd|

Section 13: snowmachines\ sleds\ Cape Espenberg\ cold\ Taylor\ pushed the deer hard\ loan -- paid ten years later|

Section 14: herder\ work -- with tourist industry\ butcher -- none for the first few years\ herd -- built up\ Russia\ reindeer -- show\ Siberia\ reindeer -- checked out\ herders\ Sireniki\ deer -- watch 24 hours a day|

Section 15: custom\ deer -- move around\ reindeer tame\ reindeer -- have to move them all the time\ Alaska -- deer wilder\ deer -- move around for food\ European countries -- different\ Alaska -- easier\ Scandinavia -- lasso deer|

Section 16: devastating\ industry -- disappears\ business\ helpless\ accept whatever happens\ slaughter plant\ investment -- losing game\ prediction\ caribou -- old Eskimos said they would be back\ never seen them\ Senator Blodgett -- Teller\ caribou -- saw as a problem\ Koyuk\ support -- none\ people didn't believe\ caribou -- came back|

Section 17: caribou -- will keep coming\ population -- fluctuates\ people -- like caribou hunting\ reindeer herders\ Nunivak Island\ St. Lawrence Island\ fence\ impact -- herders\ workers\ younger generation\ college\ reindeer industry -- possibly disappears\ greedy\ Russia\ reintroduce|

Section 18: family together\ agencies -- working together\ good time\ reindeer herding time -- fun\ hard work\ people -- socializing|