Akeonik Reindeer Station, Icy Cape

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Akeonik Reindeer Station, Icy Cape

by | Nov 21, 2020

Akeonik is a historical reindeer station at the northern end of Kasegaluk Lagoon on the Chukchi Sea coast at Icy Cape, about 50 miles (81 km) southwest of Wainwright and 46 miles (74 km) northeast of Point Lay, Alaska. Throughout the mid to late 1800s, whaling ships hunted along the Bering and Chukchi Sea coast. By 1888, captains of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service that patrolled the waters of western Alaska became concerned for the well being of the Iñupiat and Yup’ik villages that depended on marine mammals as a primary food source.

In 1890, Captain M.A. Healy of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear, who had witnessed severe starvation among St. Lawrence Island Iñupiat in previous years, conceived the idea of transporting domestic reindeer from Siberia to the coast of the Seward Peninsula. He proposed the plan to Dr. Sheldon Jackson, General Agent for Education in Alaska, then a passenger on the cutter. Jackson appealed to the U.S. Government and in 1893, the Alaska Reindeer Service was established as one of the first acts of government following the purchase of the Alaska territory from Russia.

The purpose of the Alaska Reindeer Service was to establish schools and reindeer stations along the coast and to train villagers to care for and use the reindeer. Sheldon Jackson commissioned Sami herders from Norway to move to Alaska and teach Alaska Natives herding techniques, such as driving and milking reindeer, building and using corrals, marking ears, and working herding dogs. Read more here and here. Explore more of Akeonik Reindeer Station here:

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