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Original Issue

Rodeo in the Land of the Midnight Sun

Sure-footed Lapland ropers brave the hoofs and horns of more than 10,000 reindeer during an autumn roundup in the hill country of northern Sweden

The man at the right, threading his way through a forest of tossing horns, is a Lapland roper searching out the animals which will sustain him and his family through the coming winter. He is a mountain Lapp who, like other members of his race living in northern Sweden, depends on the reindeer for hides, meat, income and horsepower.

Each fall the ropers and their families from all districts gather in crude hamlets to accomplish the tremendous job of culling over herds as large as 12,000 animals. Earthen huts house the herdsmen during the time of the roundup. A large corral, braced and lashed without the use of a single nail in its construction, dominates the village. Beyond, the endless countryside, dotted with reindeer, rolls away into the distance.

As the roundup begins, young deer must be caught and their ears notched for future identification. Older bulls are castrated for draught work. Prime breeding stock is shunted aside and the remaining animals slaughtered for hides and meat to sustain the families.

The captured animals driven into the corral mill about in tight circles. The roper, agile as any matador, works his way through the confined herd. The beat of their hoofs is soft thunder on the frozen dirt, steam from their bodies melting the snow underfoot to slush. The splendor of an arctic sunset highlights the animals and the roper as he makes his way toward his target. Then a quick cast and he yanks his struggling quarry out to fulfill its purpose in the coming year.

Searching the herd for identifying ear notches marking his animal, a Lapp herder gets ready to cast his lasso into the milling reindeer.

Circling in a glowing autumn sunset, high above the Arctic Circle, newly corralled reindeer plunge-wildly around a herder who, rope in hand, stands ready to lasso one with his mark.

Tugging against lasso tied to its horns, tethered reindeer bucks wildly as a young Lapp herd girl moves in to quiet it.