Jafet Isaksen Lindeberg was born in Kvænangen, Troms county, in Norway. In his youth, he tried prospecting for gold in northern Norway. Lindeberg’s father, Isak, was a farmer and fisherman. He had come to the region from the valley of Norrbotten, an ancient iron mining region in Norrbotten County, Sweden.
In the autumn of 1897, the U.S. Congress decided to send help to the gold miners in Klondike. The gold rush had escalated. Thousands of people rallied to the area, most of them completely unfamiliar with the harsh climate. The authorities feared a humanitarian disaster, with famine, epidemics and lawless conditions. It was difficult to send supplies.
It was therefore decided that reindeer and able keepers were to be shipped from Norway to Klondike. Reindeer were known as versatile animals, that could be used for food, clothing and transport. On February 4, 1898, Lindeberg left Alta with the ship SS Manitoba, heading for New York City. He had been hired as a reindeer keeper. There were 113 people, 535 reindeer, and 250 tons of reindeer lichen on the ship. Upon arriving, he learned that the crisis was not as big as anticipated, and he was freed from his contract.