In 2004, the first Sami Reindeer People of Alaska exhibit opened in Bethel, Alaska, at the Yupiit Piciyarait Museum, the first of 13 exhibits across Alaska and greater North America. Faith Fjeld and Nathan Muus co-curated the exhibit, with substantial input and participation from Alaska Sami families, including Lois Stover, who was present at every Alaska event. Ruthanne Cecil was also a major researcher and exhibit organizer.

The exhibit honors and tells the stories of the Sami families who came from Norway in 1894 and 1898 to teach reindeer husbandry to the native Inupiaq and Yup’ik people of Western Alaska. The exhibit includes historic photographs, family stories, duodji (useful items made beautiful), traditional clothing, and a full sized and furnished lavvu—a traditional Sami dwelling. Before the Vesterheim exhibit in 2012-13, the exhibit photographs were redone under the supervision of Marlene Wisuri and an exhibit lavvu was designed and fabricated by Nancy Olson and Marie Olson.

The Sami Reindeer People of Alaska Exhibits

  • Yupiit Piciyarait Museum, Bethel, Alaska
    April 5 to 30, 2004
  • Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage, Alaska
    May 9 to September 17, 2004
  • Alutiiq Museum, Kodiak, Alaska
    September 20, 2004 to January 29, 2005
  • Norwegian Christmas at Union Station, Washington, D.C
    December 1 to 30, 2004
  • Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum, Nome, Alaska
    February 8 to September 16, 2005
  • Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle, Washington
    October 7 to November 13, 2005
  • Tochak Historical Society and Museum, McGrath, Alaska
    March 1 to April 29, 2006
  • Innaigvik Information and Education Center, Kotzebue, Alaska
    June 5 to August 20, 2006
  • Pratt Museum, Homer, Alaska
    August 26 to September 30, 2006
  • Sheldon Museum, Haines, Alaska
    October 14 to November 30, 2006
  • Finnish American Historical Archive and Museum, Hancock, Michigan
    January 22 to February 20, 2009
  • Vesterhiem Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa
    December 1, 2012 to November 10, 2013
  • Minnesota Discovery Center, Chisholm, Minnesota
    May 3, 2014 to August 30, 2014
  • Nordic House, Nordic Northwest, Portland, Oregon
    September 10 to November 27, 2016
  • Institutions interested in exhibiting The Sami Reindeer People of Alaska, please contact the Center for more information on available dates and other exhibit arrangements.