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Sami - The People Who Walk With Reindeer

Erika Larsen

Created: 2011

Tepee-style structures are common in Sami villages, where they are often used to smoke reindeer meat.


A lávvu or cone-shaped tent is a common sight in Sámi yards, where it is used for smoking reindeer meat. Such tents also provide temporary shelter for Sámi herders while following the herd. The tent’s wide base and forked poles enable it to withstand winds of up to 50 miles an hour. Easy to transport and erect, the frames were traditionally covered with reindeer skins. Waxed canvas or lightweight woven materials are more common today.

Of staying in one of these structures, Larsen says “what I think most queer is that even though the tundra seems absent of all life we get visitors every day. I can’t say for sure where they materialize from since I have yet to see another lávvu but I suppose in the vastness of the tundra it would be foolish of me to think we are alone.”