Long before the Swedish, Finnish or even the Viking culture
had developed, the Scandinavian peninsula was populated by the Saemieh (hereafter referred to as Sami). The oldest written
source of knowledge on the Sami's is the Roman historian Tacitus' who describes fenni in a book from 98 A.D, although
his account most certainly was based on hearsay only.During
the Viking Age -and later- in the Middle Ages, Sweden was only about a third of it's present size, the northern 2/3 of the
country was populated by the Sami. Even though the Sami tales about the Stalo suggests that there was a long-lasting
conflict with the Vikings. The Sami's also traded first with Vikings and later with travelers from northern Europe such as
tradesmen from the Hanseatic league.
In 555 A.D. the Greek historian, Procopius, refers to Scandinavia
as Thule, and the inhabitants he calls skridfinns1. At this time the most southern part of Sweden
was populated by the Vendel people a peaceful group of sunworshippers. Since they lived in a time before recorded history
for this part of the world, little is known today about the Vendel's. Later the immigration by and mixing with germanic tribes
gave birth to the wellknown Viking culture in Sweden and Norway.
As a result of these contacts the Sami society took a cultural leap from a predominately stone age society and even developed
a monetary system of their own -a little known fact- the currency was named tjoervie btw. Animal hides and furs were
the most common commoditys that was traded for salt, coins (often used as ornaments) and different kind of metal blades. The
handicrafted Sami knifes developed its present form during this age.
1Note: The word Skridfinns translates into Ski-, and -finn a word in still in use in Norway since
Finn is a pseudonym for Sami in the Norwegian language, one of the most northern territorys is called Finnmark
one of the few areas where the Sami's still are in majority.
1542: The Swedish King Gustav Vasa declares that 'All unused lands belongs to
God, us and the Swedish Crown' (ie: the King). An uncanny resemblance with what was said about the North
American continent at about the same time -don't you think?
1603: The first church is built in "Lapland".
1635: The mine in Nasafjäll is opened and the Sami's is coerced to work both in the mine and with the transports
of ore, those who refused to work was cruelly punished.
This slavemine is perhaps the worst atrocity committed by the Swedish
government. Many Sami's flee from the the area, so a large part of the provinces previously used by Pite and Lule Sami's is
depopulated. The government sends troops to prevent the Sami's from fleeing.
1673: The official start of colonization of the Sami area, the idea is encourage settlers to move to the
northern regions by granting land- and waterrights as well as tax-allowances.
The settlers moved into the areas "unused"
by the Sami's, farming and cattleranches was a source of livelihood which contrasted strongly with the traditional Sami lifestyle.
More importantly is that the farmers hunting brought several species to the brink of extinction, among them the beaver.
economic foundation of the Sami hunting culture was destroyed and starvation becomes widespread among the Sami's.
1685 -> Burning of the Sami drums, persecution of those who practice the old religion, destruction of holy sites
1693: Lars Nilsson from Arjeplog is burned at the stake for "Witchcraft" after he tried to save the life of his
grandson who had fallen into a creek.
1720-1729: The king of Sweden issues a proclamation that the Sami's found in Västmanland, Kopparberg and Gästrikland
should be gathered and deported to the "Lappish administrative region". Some familys and small groups of Sami's who avoided
the deportations remained in Dalarna and Gästrikland and even was found as far south as Uppland until the first half of the
19'th century. During the 1730´s most of those who remained in this southern area was forced to become settlers by a proclamation
from the king and as a consequence had to give up the reindeerherding. Yet the reindeerhusbandry continue in the area until
Link to special essay: Sami's in the far south.
1751: By royal decree "Lapland" is created, with the passing of this law for this region the huntingrights are divided
between the Sami's and the settlers -and as such "Lapland" only serves as a limited protection for the Sami.
1755: The new testament is translated to the Ume-Sami language, the Old testament in 1811.
1780: The Lexicon Lapponicum are published by a biblesociety, a Sami - Swedish - Sami dictionary which are
intended for missionaries.
Was the Sami's the aggressors?
Drawing by Robert Wilhelm Ekman in 1849
many times, even in a schoolbook
that was used until a few decades ago.
1809: The border between Finland (which at this time isn't an independent national state) and Norway is drawn, of
little consequence for the nomadic Sami's in the area at first but the problems increases as the control gets stricter later
in this century (see 1852).
1811: The bible is translated to the Åarjel or south-Sami language.
1848: The parliament, Stortinget, passes a bill which states that the land in Finnmark, Norway, previously had been
without rulers, and that the nomadic Sami's had no propertyrights.
1852 The "revolt" in Kautokeino, Norway. Have been called: "The revolt of the holy ones," since there was a clear
connection with a religious movement. Yet the fact that the border towards Finland had been closed shortly before the "revolt" should not be underestimated. An
administrative decision where the nomadic Sami's of the area lost access to lands they badly needed for their reindeers in
1868-73: The "cultivation border" is created for the protection of the mountainsami's in Sweden, in some respects
similar to the "reservations" of north America -but as well as there it was overrun by settlers. No special measure for the
protection of the south & forest Sami's rights to land and water.
1905: The Karlstad Convention of this year dissolved the union between Norway and Sweden, the nomadic mountain Sami
have to decide which country they want to belong to.
1913: The Norwegian parliament passes a bill on "native act land" which allocate the best and most useful lands
to the white settlers.
1913-1920: The Swedish race-segregation politic creates a system of institutional racism. The use of the Sami language
is forbidden in the "Nomadicschools" A racebiological institute is created in Uppsala.
1917: First pan-national Sami conference in Trondheim, Norway decides to create political Sami organizations.
1918: First national conference for Sami's in Sweden is held in Östersund.
1928: This year's reindeergrazing law was a means to regulate Sami reindeer herding, making the Sami communities
legally responsible for compensating farmers for "damages" by reindeer herding activities, yet also gave some additional protection
for the mountainsami's. Increased economical pressure in the reorganized sami communities also forces many to adopt their
reindeer herding to become a secondary economic activity.
Once again the rights for the forestsami's was forgotten. As
a result several forest-Sami communitys disappears over the following years.
Some Sami's in the forestarea founded homesteads
on their own land, but until the 1970's there was a law stating that a Sami wasn't allowed to build a house larger than a
rather modest size. As a result many farming Sami's assimilated themselves into the Swedish society, yet there still exists
such Sami's in northern Sweden who have kept their Sami culture even though they to an outside observer might seem to be Swedish
1948: UN declaration of human rights.
1952: Radio broadcasts for and by Sami's is started in Sweden.1966: The "mountain-taxation" trial starts
in Östersund. The issue: native landright in the Jemtland Härjedalen area, Sami's loses the trial in 1981 after appealing
to the supreme court.
1972: The reindeer grazing convention of this year placed new restrictions on available pasture lands and increased
the role of national governments over the reindeerherding communities.
1980-1981:The Alta conflict in Norway is caused by the construction of a hydroelectric powerplant in Alta river,
something the native communitys considered to be a threat to their most important and valuable land.
1986: Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the nuclear fallout poison fish, meat and berrys. 73 000 reindeers is throwed
away in Sweden alone as "unfit" for human consumption. The government promises that the Sami's should be indemnified, a promise
that is "forgotten" after a few years.
1993: First election to the indigenous parliament in Sweden.
1993: The Swedish government decides that the Sami's shouldn't have any exclusive right for hunting within their
communitys and begin to sell licenses both to Swedish residents as well as to foreign hunters.
An unacceptable situation
for the Sami's who have protested since and even hungerstriked in an attempt to make the Swedish government revert their decision
which is a violation of the human rights agreement, Agenda 21, the Rio declaration etc.
1994: A law permitting non-Sami to fish in lakes previously reserved for the Swedish Sami's goes into affect. The
Sami parliament has since been pushing for the repeal of this law as well as the one allowing small game hunting in Sami territory.
1996: The Sami communitys in Härjedalen loses trial over landrights and thereby the right to use grazinglands which
is extremely important during the winter.
1997: The second election to the Sami parliament in Sweden.
On September 21, 55.3% of the locals in Malå votes
no in a referendum concerning a proposed storage facility for nuclear waste inside the boundaries of Malå Sami community.
the storage of nuclear waste, specifically plutonium, by the publication Bulletin of the atomic scientists.
The image is taken during a concert
which was held during the protests
against the planned longterm storage
of nuclear waste in Malå Sweden.
1998: For the first time ever Swedish Sami's managed to return one sacrificial stone to it's original place. The
stone in question was stolen in Sandfors, close to the town of Malå and brought to the museum in Skellefteå in the early 1960's
when a hydro-electric powerplant was built in a nearby river. Yet the sacrificial stone never got threatened by the artificial
lake created by the dam.
After many contacts with, and a multitude of letters and contacts with the museum in Skellefteå
and Umeå the local Sami's finally was granted a permit to have the stone returned in June 1998. On sunday, 23'd of August
an official ceremony was held of the returning of the stone at the original location.
1999: In February an official of the government declares that Sweden will ratificate the ILO 169 on the rights for
the indigenous peoples. Some -but not all- Sami organizations are bodys to which the proposed legislative measure is referred
to for consideration together with the farmer and forestry organizations who protests the initiative strongly.
of Sami's rejects the idea of ratificate the ILO. They feels that the whole process are half-baked from the start since only
some Sami organizations have gotten the opportunity to make their voice heard as well as the idea in the governments official
investigation that only the reindeerherding natives should be entitled to the rights of the ILO. In short: Once again the
government have skillfully managed to split the native group into two factions that work at cross purposes, this conflict
would of course never have happened if all organizations had been included in the bill for consideration and the governments
proposal had included all natives.
The same year the natives continue to protest the Swedish governments decision to steal the hunting and fishingrights
from the native communitys. This same year Mr Olof T. Johansson are arrested suspected of sabotaging two main powerlines,
which in an anonymous letter was said to have been done in a protest against the theft of same huntingrights.
On this image
you can see Mr Johansson just to the right of the TV-camera at a protest that was held in August of this year. Yet there's
hope that this will be one of the last occasions we have to protest on this particular matter, in the official investigation
of the government on the ILO it is suggested that the Sami communitys will get the hunting and fishingrights back.
2001: The election to the Sami parliament ends in confusion, a re-election is held in November.
2002: On February 15, 2002 the court reached its final verdict. The south Sami in Härjedalen, Sweden, no longer
have any windergrazing for their reindeers.
The verdict of the previous trial had been appealed by the reindeer herding Sami in 1996.
That these Sami now lost the
wintergrazingrights certainly are bad enough in it self. But this will open the floodgates for more trials against native
Other trials are pending, where landowners in Västerbotten have been awaiting the verdict of this trial and
now most likely will jump on the bandwagon.