The deterritorialization of Sápmi to make way for extractive industries has a significant impact on the Sámi people. As a result, they are forced to make difficult decisions about where to establish their identity and how to protect their culture. In this context, we aim to provide an in-depth analysis of the effects of colonialism influences on Sápmi, exploring concepts such as conventions, citizenship, and communities. This has enabled us to share our culture and knowledge with a wider audience, which helps to preserve and protect our identity in a world where we are increasingly being deterritorialized. It is essential to recognize the importance of the Sámi people and their culture, and the need to protect their right to self-determination in the face of increased deterritorialization. As referenced by the European University Institute: “Cultural genocide is the systematic destruction of traditions, values, language, and other elements that make one group of people distinct from another.”
How have the Norwegian government’s colonialist policies affected the Sámi people?
The Norwegian government has implemented various detrimental policies towards the Sámi people, which has had a lasting impact. In 2006, the church initiated an inquiry into a reconciliation commission, and in 2018, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up with the goal to analyze the wrongdoings of the Norwegian state against the Sámi people. Moreover, the Sámi people have long wished for a public process and an engagement to examine and expose the Nordic states’ colonial, assimilationist policies. In late 2019, the main Sámi political bodies approved the proposal for a reconciliation commission. The Norwegian parliament established the commission which is currently in the process of finishing the final report on the effects of the policy of Norwegianization on the Sámi people. Additionally, the Nordic countries have been attempting to reconcile with the Sámi people, with Norway supposedly leading the way. Furthermore, a contemporary comparison of the legal rights and obligations of states towards the Sámi and other Indigenous people was presented in the article “Colonialism, Constitutionalism, and Costs.” Finally, ad hoc development of political solutions to address the rights of the Sámi to their territories has taken place in Norway. This indicates the Norwegian government’s commitment to resolving their colonialist policies and their effects on the Sámi people.
How has the development of renewable energy led to the displacement of Sámi people?
Coinciding with the reconciliation processes underway in the Nordic countries, paradoxically, the development of renewable energy (green wave) is creating a new source of tension between the Sámi people and the governments of these countries. The Sámi are facing displacement from the traditional lands that they have managed and stewarded for centuries. The development of renewable energy has led to the construction of large-scale windmill plants, hydroelectric power plants, and other energy infrastructure, which has resulted in the displacement of Sámi communities. For example, in Norway, the building of the Alta-Kautokeino power plant resulted in loss of livelihoods for Sámi people who have been living in the area since immemorial. Now with the construction of wind turbines at Fosen reindeer herding district in Trøndelag, Sámi people are again threatened with deterritorialization. The construction of these projects has destroyed traditional Sámi livelihoods, such as reindeer herding, fishing and hunting, and has caused disruption of their cultural and spiritual practices. Furthermore, the construction of these renewable energy projects has often been done without consulting the Sámi people, which has further exacerbated tensions between them and the governments of the Nordic countries. The displacement of Sámi people from their traditional lands has led to a struggle for land rights, and there is a need for governments to recognize and protect the rights of the Sámi people. The Sámi have the right to self-determination, and to live in their traditional lands without fear of displacement.
In the development of energy supplies for the rest of Europe, the magnitude of land use in mountainous areas in Norway has resulted in that it is no longer sustainable to engage in reindeer herding in many areas. This is nothing more than a very egregious violation of human rights and systematic deterritorialization of Sámi reindeer herding communities. At the same time, the Norwegian government would have been able to rally the reform of energy supplies to Europe by building their publicly owned wind turbines in offshore environments instead of the mountain areas that have always belonged to reindeer herding Sámi communities.
By Roger K. Olsson