About the Prehistory

The wilderness area has been inhabited since the end of the last Ice Age. Catching the wild reindeer, fishing and hunting were the earliest sources of livelihood. Later, reindeer herding replaced catching the wild reindeer.

And about the History

Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area has been inhabited by people from three different villages (called "siida"). Utsjoki was, since the end of 1600s, a reindeer herding village. Inari was a village of the forest Sámi people, where fishing was originally the main source of livelihood; later it was replaced by reindeer herding. Näätämö represented the eastern type of "siida", which for longest time continued the half-nomad lifestyle with four different dwelling places for different seasons.

In the old days, people were geared towards Norway: in the summer, the shores of the Arctic Sea were the destination for the migration of the reindeer. Also fishing was practised, and markets were organised there. When the border was closed in 1800s, this made it difficult for people to move. When Finland became independent, people began to become oriented towards Finland, but in practice this did not happen before roads were built.

The former president of Finland, Urho Kekkonen, also visited Kaldoaivi on his hiking trips in Lapland. The local herding co-operatives of Kaldoaivi and Muddusjärvi had since 1957 asked for a fence to be built on the boundary between the two. This was not successful, until in 1960 president Kekkonen was fishing at Vuobme-Gálddojávri, and the reindeer owners brought about a herd of ten thousand for the president to see. He was impressed by the number of the reindeer, and money was allocated for the fence, which was built in 1962 -1963.

The Present Day

There are no permanent inhabitants in the wilderness area. However, there are many buildings for temporary use: fishing cottages of the Koltta Sámi people, reindeer herders's cabins, open wilderness huts and rental huts. In the old maps, you can see many cabins of willow grouse hunters, fishing cottages and other huts which have been built in the old days for hunting and fishing trips lasting for weeks. These buildings have deteriorated in process of time, being no longer in use. The local people still go fishing and willow grouse huntingin the traditional way, but often they go home for the night.

There are reindeer belonging to four different local herding co-operatives (Kaldoaivi, Näätämö, Muddusjärvi and Vätsäri) in the area. The pastures of the local herding co-operative of Kaldoaivi are mostly inside the wilderness area and on the protected mires. In the summer, the reindeer are wandering in a large area inside fences. In the autum, they are collected inside a smaller fence in Annivaara, which is located next to Skalluvaara (Skállovárri) reindeer round-up. The reindeer are earmarked during the autumn and the early winter. In Skalluvaara, the reindeer owners have their own cabins, where they live during the marking period. After the reindeer herds have been separated from each other, they will be taken to different pasture areas.

Reindeer being collected into Skalluvaara round-up in Kaldoaivi herding co-operative. Photo: Jouni S. Laiti