The reindeer in different cultures.

The reindeer is not really a domesticated animal, left on it's own the wild nature takes over quickly. Despite that fact many native people have domesticated reindeers. The advantage is manyfold, since the reindeer provides all basic needs for the people who uses them. And it might even be considered a symbiosis between man and animal, since the humans protect the reindeers from predators. It is not known if the reindeerhusbandry developed in a single place and later spread among the circumpolar tribes. Or if it developed more or less independently.
In any case the arctic peoples of the old world, from Scandinavia to the most eastern parts of Sibiria have a lifestyle that used to be all but identical.

These Inuit women was photographed on Prince of Wales island at the beginning of the century.

Inuits are presently commersializing their reindeerhusbandry with the help of Sami's on Labrador. Yet overall the reindeerhusbandry is comparatively undeveloped on the north American continent.

Some of the reasons is explained in this text

The reindeers don't only provide the native peoples with food and clothing but are also used to pull the sledges.

Even though the use of the reindeer in this way have almost disappeared among the Sami's in Scandinavia, it is not uncommon on the Kola peninsula today.

A young Sami riding a reindeerbull in Northern Sweden, the Sami's did not systematically use the reindeers as riding animals as some other native peoples did. So this image taken in 1974 is one rather atypical example.

And here's another example from Finnmark in Norway.

On the Kola peninsula in Russia one can often see troikas of reindeers pulling the sledges, and on this image there is even four reindeerbulls. Some Sami's of this area have adopted this use of multiple pulling reindeers from the Komi people.

And here we see a reindeerherding Inuit family from Greenland.

Several native peoples of the arctic part of Russia are using the reindeers as riding animals, the reindeers gets quickly tired however, at least compared with a horse.

Takeshi Ondo, have a reindeerfarm in Horonobe, northern Hokkaido in Japan

Neato thingie

To the reindeerpage. The Sami infopage.