Sami Day marked as conflicts rise

Bookmark and Share

The flag of the northern Sami people flew around Norway on Sunday, to mark the annual day celebrated as “Samefolkets dag” by the Sami in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. As festivities took place, though, all is not well, with conflicts continuing to erupt over reindeer grazing.

Reindeer sled rides are popular with tourists, but otherwise the reindeer business in northern Norway is rife with conflicts. PHOTO: visitnorway.com

The conflicts have led to violence on the vidda, the fast open areas of the Finnmark plateau where too many reindeer are competing for too little grass on the tundra. Other conflicts have erupted between reindeer herders and farmers, when hungry reindeer break into their cropland.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Sunday that the rights of the Sami people are not well-enough protected because local courts don’t have enough judges who can understand the Sami language or culture. A commission set up by the courts is now examining how to ensure Sami rights by avoiding language and cultural misunderstandings.

A recent survey has revealed widespread use of violence and threats on the Finnmark plateau. The reindeer herding operations are also plagued by a steep fall in sale of reindeer meat, and some fear the business is on the verge of collapse.

Views and News staff