National Geographic : 2011 Nov
Sven Skaltje was saddened to find the carcasses of two female reindeer whose antlers had become entan- gled during a dominance struggle in northern Sweden. He estimates it took three days for them to die of starvation. After separating the bodies, he saw from the unique ear markings that one belonged to him and the other to his cousin. Skaltje is much admired by the younger Sami in his herding group, but he is unsure whether the skills he teaches them will endure. "Other cultures, like the Romans and the Inca, were very important, and they disappeared," he says. "That is life." Photographer Erika Larsen has been living with a Sami community in Kautokeino, Norway, since 2008 and documenting the lives of herders in Sweden as well. Read more of her story in e Moment, page 160. Jessica Benko has written for Virginia Quarterly Review and Harper's.