Roving reporter Nicola interviewed Prince Pekka the Adolescent Reindeer from the pristine forest in Rovaniemi, capital of Lapland.
Everybody likes me. To be honest, I don't know why anyone would have an issue with me because I'm down to earth, fun, and a real lady magnet.
My name is Pekka, which means ‘stone’ coz my coloring is a beige-grey. It’s what makes me so cool.
Things have been a bit boring recently. You know, same old, same old kind of thing, traveling around with the herd. I’m so fed up following them around. I guess that's the inspiration for me to branch out and explore new places and things.
OK, I’ll fess up. To be honest, I’ve been a bit naughty recently, straying away from the path. But nobody really knows that. So don't tell anyone. Where I live there are fences that separate the land out for different reindeer herds and each has their own herds-people. I like to chew through the wooden gates and sneak off into neighbouring territory. I know I shouldn't do that. But it's just so exciting. I love the lichen there and eat a lot which helps me to grow strong into adulthood.
What else am I hoping to find in this other territory? Girls. 100% girls! That’s what I’m looking for. Yup. You can find some really beautiful ones out there, much better than the ones in my herd.
Treasures of the Sami
We reindeer are part of the traditional way of life of the original inhabitants of this land, the Sami. In the old days, they followed the reindeer and would set up camp wherever the reindeer would stop to eat. And that’s how they found their food. The Sami have around a thousand words to describe who we are and what we can do.
The old shamans of the Sami believed we have a close spiritual connection to God. They’ve always respected and honoured us.
In fact everyone in Lapland seems to love us. They let us be. When we cross a street people stop their cars and allow us to safely pass by. They consider us to be the treasures of this land.
You know what I think it is? I think we might actually be a bit royal. I hadn’t thought about it before but I guess that makes me like a prince or something. So you can call me Prince Pekka, the reindeer. I’m a real treasure!
Prince Pekka the Reindeer speaks
I like to stir up things
I guess you could say that I'm a good singer. Ya. I'm really good at singing. I sing loads of stuff. I sing songs in the wind, in the grass. To your ears it sounds like a big scream. It's great. Everybody loves my big scream.
Sometimes when we're all trying to go to sleep, I start singing. And then everybody starts making noises. I guess it's like clapping, almost. I kinda stir up the herd. I think they really appreciate it. You know, who doesn't want to be sung to sleep?
Dreaming my future
You know what? I can actually really see myself being the leader of the herd. I think I could do that. I have the qualities of a leader, strong, independent, well traveled, because leaders have to lead everybody everywhere. So that suits me. I am definitely a candidate for that role.
I know our current leader. I don’t speak to him much. He's alright. He's a bit of a show off. I wouldn't be like that when I become the leader. You know, like when I shed my antlers, I don't go around telling everybody that I've shed my antlers. I just show up with no antlers and that’s that. I shed them once a year. It's no big deal. It's a common thing.
The experience of shedding is like a new beginning. I’ve never thought about that before. New antlers. New me!
Prince Pekka was interpreted by
Anna Tammela, actor and performer, who is of Sami descent. She first met Pekka when she was 13 years old while staying at her grandparents’ house. “I was looking out the back window, off to the river, when all of a sudden I saw this reindeer stroll into the back garden. Amazing! I was like, ‘Oh, Mom, I want to go outside and see the reindeer.’ She said, “Ok but don't get too close.’ But I did. I got within 10 meters. He stared at me, eye to eye. We had a strong and immediate connection.”
Anna speaks to Pekka
Whenever I see you, I always think about what your life is like. And what it is like to be you, roaming the forest, running with your herd, seeing everything through your eyes. I will always love you.
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Anna was invited by Nicola Gale after a random conversation in a London coffee shop about her mother’s research into their family’s Sami heritage and culture.
Cover photo edited. Original by Tristan Ferne.