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Leonard Olanna
Leonard Olanna

Leonard Olanna was interviewed on March 24, 2003 by Bill Schneider, Knut Kielland, and Kumi Rattenbury at Leonard's home in Brevig Mission, Alaska. It was a difficult time for Leonard because he had received word that two relatives had just passed away. Nevertheless, he agreed to go ahead with the interview and then drove the group by snowmachine over to Teller. In this interview, Leonard talks about his family's heritage in reindeer herding, how he got into herding, and the effects of weather on the reindeer and their range. He also talks about the influx of caribou, the effect of wolf predation on his herds, and how he uses radio collars to track his reindeer.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-102-25

Project: Reindeer Herding: The Present and the Past
Date of Interview: Mar 24, 2003
Narrator(s): Leonard Olanna
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Kumi Rattenbury, Knut Kielland
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Science Foundation
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

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


1) Introduction and Leonard's family's history in reindeer herding.

2) Leonard's grandfather and father's involvement in reindeer herding.

3) Influences on Leonard and how he got back into reindeer herding.

4) Changes in the weather.

5) Leonard and his father going out in the country to reindeer herd and driving reindeer.

6) Effects on herding.

7) Leonard talks about his range and weather patterns.

8) Storms and the impact on caribou and how the caribou came into the area.

9) Managing the reindeer herd and using the computer to follow the reindeer.

10) Snow and how it impacts the herders.

11) Making sure that there is enough snow to be able to check on the herds.

12) Reindeer using the range in the summertime and how they move around during the different weather patterns.

13) Wolves and their impact on the reindeer and corralling the reindeer.

14) Marketing caribou meat and antler.

15) Reindeer products and working for reindeer meat.

16) The caribou crisis and possible solutions.

17) Leonard with his grandchildren reindeer herding and using supplemental feed for the reindeer.

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: grandfather\ Lomen Brothers\ Brevig Mission\ loan\ reindeer herding\ father -- passed on and reindeer turned over to Leonard\ Bureau of Indian Affairs -- loan of reindeer|

Section 2: Olanna, Harry -- grandfather\ herding\ Brevig Mission\ Lomen Company -- Harry herded for them\ herd -- stay with\ snowmachines -- none\ Honda -- none\ herd too big -- starved\ food -- ran out\ Leonard's father -- small boy\ over-grazed\ Kakaruk, Wilfred\ jobs -- none\ Goodhope\ Shishmaref\ father -- passed away\ herd -- scattered\ caribou\ wolves\ north wind\ mosquitos|

Section 3: work -- for his father\ reindeer -- diminished\ Bureau of Indian Affairs\ loan\ live out in the country\ weather -- watch\ weather -- changed|

Section 4: wintertime -- lots of snow in the old days\ today -- weather is warmer\ snow -- lack of|

Section 5: Kakaruk, Wilfred\ Brevig Mission\ corral\ reindeer -- drove out from Kakaruk corral\ weather -- nice and cold\ reindeer -- driving from Wilfred's to Brevig Mission|

Section 6: tally\ reindeer -- pushing\ reindeer -- numbers go done\ caribou -- mixed in with herd\ caribou -- increasing\ herd -- too big\ feed-- running out\ mountain\ American River|

Section 7: Tom -- has trees\ Leonard's range -- no trees\ mountains\ trees\ White Mountains\ rivers\ weather patterns -- difference\ reindeer -- picked up\ storms -- none\ Brevig Mission\ Brevig -- lots of winds in winter\ weather -- blowing snow\ cold weather\ herds -- scatter\ Ocean Bay\ Clarence Bay\ following the wind|

Section 8: caribou -- small numbers\ bulls\ yearlings\ caribou -- mixed in\ caribou -- increasing|

Section 9: summer\ satellite collars\ University of Alaska Fairbanks\ reindeer -- stray\ reindeer -- push back\ September -- lots of rain\ creeks\ California\ rivers -- crossing\ Honda -- use to travel in summer\ fall time -- watch the reindeer on computer\ updates -- five day cycle\ locations\ bear\ wolves -- stick around on range|

Section 10: reindeer -- hard to get to\ snow -- lack of\ December -- enough snow to go locate reindeer\ tussocks\ snowmachines\ snow -- packed|

Section 11: Brevig Mission\ snow -- scout\ packed snow\ snow falls -- blows away\ satellite collars\ reindeer meat\ Brevig Mission -- snow is hard|

Section 12: southeast wind\ reindeer -- stick around the river\ California\ rivers -- too high\ satellite collars\ mountains\ reindeer -- come back\ Clifford's range\ reindeer -- stay up in the hills\ cold weather -- reindeer stay in one place\ summer time -- reindeer move around\ area -- good feed\ fawning\ reindeer -- move to the east|

Section 13: reindeer -- run\ herd -- pushed down\ caribou\ yearling\ corralling\ tally\ Wales\ Shishmaref\ reindeer -- push in|

Section 14: Teller reindeer plant -- sell meat\ antler -- buyer in Anchorage\ antler -- shipped\ antler -- cut\ corral -- late June\ horns -- can't be too long\ horns -- hard if too long\ short and soft horns|

Section 15: work\ reindeer meat|

Section 16: reindeer herders -- some wiped out\ Hadley\ caribou -- tough on herders\ income -- losing\ summers -- try to work in town\ caribou -- find new path\ father -- said caribou will return\ caribou -- mixed in with herd\ reindeer -- separate and keep in different area\ area -- down river\ Brevig Mission\ satellite collars\ Goodhope, Fred -- range\ caribou -- 5,000+|

Section 17: fawning season\ grandchildren -- stay with reindeer\ children -- involved in corralling\ summers -- reindeer follow wind when it's hot|