Erika Larsen introduces us to the day-to-day lives of modern Sami families through her acclaimed photography exhibition: Sami—Walking with Reindeer. As part of her four-year project with National Geographic, Erika worked as a beaga (housekeeper) among the reindeer-herding family of Nils Peder and Ingrid Gaup. While living and working with this family, Erika photographed reindeer and reindeer herders in both Norway and Sweden. From her intimate vantage point, Erika immersed herself in the culture, language, and land of the northern Sami. Her work gives us an intimate peek into the beautiful, bloody realities of reindeer herding.
But the exhibition is not only about reindeer. Erika’s striking color photographs also illuminate Sami connections with their past, their environment, and with each other. These tender images show quieter moments of life in the far north: a child with his dog, a Sami tent (laavu) alone before the Northern Lights, and a baby nestled in a wooden cradle. Although an outsider to their culture, Erika sees her Sami family as teachers. She notes, “Through the Sámi I hope to better understand our role as stewards of the earth. It is inevitable when spending time in a more nature-based culture that one must recognize the cycles of life and death and therefore begin to evaluate man’s role within this circle.”
Experience both the chaos and quiet of life with a Sami reindeer-herding family by visiting Sami—Walking with Reindeer at the American Swedish Historical Museum between April 14th and August 26th.