Within the “Focal Point North” project, an excursion to the Lule- and Pitesami areas in Norway and Sweden was organized by the Centre for Sami Studies from April 23rd-30th, 2014. Among the 20 members of the excursion group were students of the Master program for Indigenous Studies, as well as representatives UiT – The Arctic University of Norway and partner institutions. Its main topic was “Indigenous peoples, extractive industries and policies”. Results of the excursion were presented in a photo exhibition called “Making Connections: Knowledge and Experience Sharing” at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. The exhibition was organized by students who attended the trip. The idea of the exhibition was to visualize the experiences and knowledge gathered during the excursion.
The first institution that welcomed the group was the Center for Lule Sami called “Árran”. A one-day seminar was organized where the trip participants, Arran Centre and the Norwegian Sami parliament representatives could raise the discussion and share opinions on matters of concern. The main topics for the discussion were: “Tysfjord as part of Laponia?”, “Lulesami, an endangered language. The situation of today”, “Ongoing and planned research projects at Árran”.
The group spent this day in Kiruna – a city in the North of Sweden. The group visited the Sami Parliament where the floor for discussion on indigenous issues was opened. The topic “The current situation of the Sami people in Sweden and the role of the Sami Parliament” was presented by the Sami Parliament representative Marie Enoksen. Among the institutions visited during the second day was the City hall, where a museum is located. Another sight was the Mine City Park viewing point that gave the participants a chance to gain an overview the territory of the mining activity this town is famous for.
The third day of the excursion was spent in Jokkmok. The group visited Ajtte Museum dedicated to history of the Sami. There the members of the group observed history of the Sami people, stayed in a traditional tent and learned more about history of the place. During this day the members attended the seminar where the topic of discussion was ‘Laponia – a nature conservation area and a meeting place?’. In the evening there was a meeting with one of the activists who participated against the mining activities in Gállok – the territory of the the Sami people today.
The activities during the second day of stay in Jokmokk were organized by the tourist agency Lapland Vuollerim. During this day the students and other members experienced the Arctic Circle crossing ceremony, met Sami reindeer herders and participated in house-jumping dinners, which allowed the group and the hosts to share experiences in pleasant atmosphere. They also tried both Swedish and Sami traditional dishes including reindeer meat with lingonberries jam and mashed potatoes. The group was taken to the places where hydro electronic plants are operating. These plants are one of the hot topics for discussion in Sweden because of the impact they have on nature. Digging into the atmosphere of the Sami culture during their trip to the 18th Century farm, participants even had a chance to build a traditional tent.
The fifth day was spent in Areoplog commune, where the delegation visited the Silver museum and listened to several lectures. Silver jewelry commonly used in Sami embroidery and costumes, craft, goods and furniture decorated with horn and wood were demonstrated as a significant part of the traditional Sami lifestyle.
This day the delegation moved to the Fauske commune. Events were organized by the County governor of Nordland. The participants listened to a lecture on reindeer herding in this county – “Reindeer husbandry management in Nordland – brief introduction”. The group was also shown the movie on the importance of the reindeer herding which was streamed on the national television of Norway in 2011. The movie title is “Landet bortenfor” (“The Land Beyond”).
The day was spent in Sulitjelma, which is a village in the Fauske kommune in Nordland. From the earliest times the territory of Sulitjelma has been the Sami territory. However, this territory is also famous for its major mining activities which started in the end of 1800s. In active times, the Sulitjelma mines stood on the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority’s list of the 10 most polluting businesses in Norway. In 1991 last mining activities were stopped in this territory. The participants visited the Mining museum and also had tour down into a mine tunnel.
The last day of the excursion took place at the University of Nordland, which is located in Bodø. There the participants had a seminar on Markasami history, Lulesami language and coastal Sami women and cultural mathematics.
By Eketarina Zmyvalova.