24 OCTOBER 1952, Page 16

The Lapps' Survial

Sut—My attention has just been drawn to Mr. Michael Graham's article, Extinction of the Eskimo ? • (October 3rd). Cultural fatigue is becoming an increasing sociological problem in areas ranging from Australia to the Scottish Highlands. I am not competent to analyse its causes as far as the Eskimoes are concerned, but with reference to the Lapps it must riot be assumed that all groups have retained their cultural identity. The majority of the sedentary (i.e. non-reindeer-herding) Fenno-Scandians of Lappish descent have become assimilated in the rural (peasant) complex of the area; it might indeed be maintained that only the reindeer nomads have succeeded in remaining quite distinct. One of the main causes of this is that they have been able to

meet the increased demand for outside goods, which marks the growth of contact with other communities, by improved methods of reindeer- herding, which have brought a corresponding increase of income. A similar change in basic herding method has taken place among Soviet Arctic reindeer nomads.

It is this continued economic self-sufficiency derived from technical improvement, and not arrogance caused by spoiling children (as Miss Newhouse and Mr. Graham appear to contend), that has been the effective factor in the survival of Reindeer Lapp culture. Incidentally it may be stated that, after somewhat over a year with the Lapps, I have only seen two spoilt children, and I suspect that this charge, as also the generalisation that the Lapps are normally dirty, may be applied with as much validity to industrial England as to the Lapps as a whole.

In the case of the Eskimo it would seem that the economic resources of a hunting and fishing culture are inadequate to permit the obtaining of outside consumer goods. As in this case improved technique may be impracticable, it is probable that a complete change of economy is