Professor Hugh Beach Visits Minnesota

June 2, 2014

Rain, snow, and howling winds off Lake Superior did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm of Swedish visitors to Minnesota, Hugh and Annie Beach. After growing up in a Swedish-American family on the east coast, Hugh Beach did a stint in Sweden as a reindeer herder following his graduation from Harvard in anthropology.

He decided to remain in Sweden and received his PhD from Uppsala University, where he has now taught for many years. His reindeer herding experiences in Sweden, Norway, Alaska, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia have led to the publication of many books and articles on the various economic, political, and cultural aspects of the industry including the popular A Year in Lapland: Guest of the Reindeer Herders (originally published by Smithsonian Institution Press and now in print with the University of Washington Press ISBN 978-0295980379).

While in Minnesota, Hugh made several presentations on the contemporary conditions of the reindeer herding culture and economy including at the Cloquet Public Library, speaking on The Sámi in Sweden Today. At the University of Minnesota Duluth his topic was Long-term Effects of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster on the Swedish Sámi, where the program was sponsored by the Kathryn A. Martin Library, the American Indian Learning Resource Center, and the Royal D. Alworth, Jr. Institute for International Studies. While at the Minnesota Discovery Center, Chisholm, MN, he presented an overview of Contemporary Reindeer Herding in Alaska (1980s, 2010) in conjunction with the opening of the exhibit The SámiReindeer People of Alaska. A hit with the elementary students at the Grand Portage Ojibwe School was his hands-on demonstration of reindeer lassoing techniques. The North House Folk School in Grand Marais also hosted a community gathering and presentation.

Hugh and Annie Beach’s visit was organized and sponsored by the Sami Cultural Center of North America and Báiki: the International Sámi Journal. Hugh Beach’s travel was supported by the Royal Academy of Arts and Letters, Uppsala, Sweden.

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