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Daniel Karmun, Sr., Interview 2
Daniel Karmun, Sr.

Daniel "Dan" Karmun, Sr. was interviewed on January 23, 2001 by Greg Finstad, Knut Kielland and Bill Schneider at the Reindeer Herder's House in Nome, Alaska. In this interview, Dan talks about reindeer herding and the reindeer industry in general, but with lots of references to specific places and people. Of particular interest is the discussion of "by-products" from herding such as leg hides and sinew that were given to people who helped with the corralling and handling. Daniel also talks about the crash of reindeer before World War II and his thoughts on the current crash. Dan was able to predict the current crash based on observations of the movement of caribou into the Seward Peninsula.

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


1) Introduction, the population of reindeer increasing, and the creation of the Deering Reindeer Company.

2) Reindeer handling.

3) Caring for reindeer and protecting them from predators.

4) Using the reindeer by-products and workers earning shares in the company.

5) Forming reindeer companies, the Loman Commercial Company, and the enactment of the Reindeer Act of 1937.

6) Different methods and concepts of reindeer ownership.

7) Programs working with reindeer and reindeer herders.

8) Caribou presence during the late 1800s.

9) Corralling in the old days up by Deering and how the by-products were distributed.

10) How people responded to crisises in the past.

11) Old reindeer herders that should be remembered in terms of their wisdom and how they managed.

12) Herd management.

13) Herd management continued.

14) Why the caribou were coming in.

15) Caribou coming back, scouting for the main herd, and changing management.

16) Impact on Seward Peninsula by the presence of caribou and how it impacted families and the community of Deering.

17) Changes in climate.

18) Does the lack of snow provide an opportunity for caribou to come on Seward Peninsula and observations on climate change.

19) Climate change and the warmth of the ocean.

20) As the presence of caribou on Seward Peninsula increases so does the population of wolves.

21) What will the future hold for the reindeer industry?

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\ Reindeer Program\ Palmer\ extension service\ government diaries\ reindeer agents\ father\ Cape Prince of Wales\ herds\ Deering\ reindeer herding -- beginning\ deer -- multiplying\ Deering Reindeer Company\ road system -- none\ transportation system -- none\ airports -- none\ Alaska\ Siberia\ reindeer -- original ten reindeer brought over from Siberia to Alaska, 1891\ multiply -- thirty years later\ 300,000 head of reindeer|

Section 2: Seward Peninsula\ Deering\ Theresa Creek\ families\ camp\ people -- from different locations\ Buckland\ Candle\ Kotzebue\ Kobuk River\ reindeer -- by-products\ skins -- use\ reindeer leggings\ sinew\ reindeer skin -- use as a mattress when traveling\ tent city\ occupied -- February to late March\ handling reindeer\ tally sheet\ wood -- running out\ deer -- multiply rapidly|

Section 3: reindeer multiplying\ market -- none for product\ meat -- supply to regions\ Kotzebue\ Deering\ village stores\ father\ spring\ deer -- around camps\ domesticated\ fawning time\ guard -- from bears\ predators\ wolves\ ravens\ calving time\ ravens -- split up\ fawns -- kill|

Section 4: people gathering\ Theresa Creek -- tent city\ culture -- use by-products\ mukluks\ sinew -- thread to sew mukluks\ leggings -- use for trade\ extra dollars\ provisions -- coffee, sugar, flour\ trading -- reindeer parts\ workers -- worked on roundups, corrals\ reindeer shares\ meat product\ deer multiplied\ World War II\ no markets for products\ food source -- depleted\ Deering\ Nome\ wolves -- killed deer\ reindeer -- starving\ reindeer tongue\ lichen\ University of Alaska Fairbanks|

Section 5: Bureau of Indian Affairs\ inventory\ reindeer companies\ deer -- separating\ Deering\ Goodhope River\ corral\ Lomen Commercial Company -- based in Nome\ Norway\ Eskimo herders\ training\ competition\ government\ law-- Eskimos only owners of reindeer herds\ Reindeer Act\ opposition -- cattle\ industry\ market\ Alaska|

Section 6: Bureau of Indian Affairs\ reindeer ownership\ partnerships\ village\ reindeer herding\ Eskimos\ philosophies -- different\ individual families\ expansion\ reindeer -- increase\ grazing\ reindeer program\ St. Lawrence Island herd\ Seward Peninsula\ Aleutian Islands|

Section 7: Reindeer Herder Association\ Bureau of Indian Affairs\ program\ University of Alaska Fairbanks -- partnership\ program development with herders\ government -- state and federal\ 5 year plan\ depletion of reindeer\ food source depletion\ reindeer decline -- rapid\ snow\ freeze-up\ depletion of reindeer -- just before World War II\ Deering\ Nome|

Section 8: caribou -- disappear before 1900\ caribou -- presence\ Imuruk Lake\ lava beds\ camps -- southside\ lava beds -- use to catch caribou\ reindeer|

Section 9: reindeer company\ ledger\ price -- according to rate\ working\ reindeer skins\ exchange\ communities -- important time during corral\ meat\ by-products\ helping other communities|

Section 10: impact felt\ activity -- lost\ work -- reduced\ herds -- build up\ less help for herds\ shareholders\ Deering\ shareholders -- father and mother\ Deering Reindeer Company\ Karmun Reindeer Company\ volunteer\ separation\ Thomas, Micky\ herd\ Karmun, Edward -- eldest brother\ Deering area -- grazing\ partnership\ failure\ Karmun, Alfred\ volunteer herders -- took care of the herd\ Karmun, Harry -- father|

Section 11: reindeer -- divided within different regions\ Shishmaref\ Teller\ Cape Espenberg\ Barr family -- lived at Cape Espenberg\ Barr, Gideon\ Kiak, Al -- lived in Shishmaref\ reindeer\ individual herds\ Buckland\ Kotzebue\ Kivalina|

Section 12: introduction of reindeer -- no management\ ancestors -- nomadic\ by-products\ lack of food source\ reindeer -- take care of all day\ after the reindeer crash\ proper land management for reindeer herders\ state\ federal\ land ownership\ management plan -- develop\ food source\ 5 year plan\ caribou -- came back\ Kotzebue|

Section 13: caribou\ Deering\ Kobuk River\ Seward Peninsula\ managing herds\ ancestors -- didn't realize reindeer populated so fast\ deplete food source\ grazing areas\ assistance\ herders -- need help to develop infrastructure\ caribou\ alternative food source -- don't have one\ feed studies\ instruct herders\ ancestors\ reindeer herders -- younger generation\ urban\ water\ television|

Section 14: depletion of food source\ caribou -- migrate\ food source -- looking for\ migration -- came down\ disappear\ starving\ caribou -- dying\ food source depleting in caribou country\ caribou come back -- ancestors predicted\ salmonberries\ bull caribou\ scouts for caribou herds\ observation|

Section 15: Kugruk\ Shishmaref\ bull caribou -- long legs, shiny side\ river -- across going west\ working with agencies\ state\ federal\ improve grazing groups\ computers\ vaccinations\ herds improving\ University of Alaska Fairbanks\ steer\ plans\ mechanisms|

Section 16: impact\ communities -- depend on a resource\ cycle\ herders\ local employment\ round-ups\ deer -- slaughter\ summer handlers\ Seward Peninsula\ herders -- use people from communities|

Section 17: climate\ round-ups\ climate -- not extreme\ reindeer -- could eat a little longer\ vegetation\ Seward Peninsula\ Nome\ Kugruk\ camp\ snow -- lack of\ snowmachines\ freeze-up -- none\ lack of snow -- taking its toll|

Section 18: lack of snow -- opens land\ expanding distances to feed on\ Seward Peninsula -- western part\ food gathering\ marine mammals\ Bering Strait\ coastal villages\ warmth of oceans|

Section 19: Fort Davis -- fish camp\ ocean\ marine mammals\ different form of animals\ infrastructure -- upsetting with marine mammals|

Section 20: wolf population\ hunters -- kept balance on predators\ caribou -- migrate\ wolves -- follow caribou\ Deering\ herders\ migrating caribou -- more wolves|

Section 21: caribou -- presence\ caribou -- migrate\ reindeer -- preservation\ reindeer herder industry -- must take steps\ resources\ acres for grazing\ corrals -- good size\ observation\ success\ alternative food source\ New Zealand\ red deer\ wild\ tame in corrals|