Marketing the Sami

Document Sample
Marketing the Sami Powered By Docstoc
					Marketing the Sami: For we are for Sale, I and my people

            Stanley C. Domaniewski (U. of Joensuu)
                  Mathilde Dujardin (U. Bøde)
              Monika Klimentova. (U. of Joensuu

                      October 14, 2004
Index Group 2

1. Introduction ................................................................................................................................................ p4

2. Sámi history ................................................................................................................................................ p6

3. What is the Sámi Identity? .......................................................................................................................... P8
              3.1 Sámi Identity on Display: Culture ...................................................................................... p9
              3.2 Why do the Sámi Display Culture in this Manner? ............................................................ P9

4. Environmental consciousness ..................................................................................................................... p11

5. Conclusion .................................................................................................................................................. p15

6. Reference .................................................................................................................................................... P16

Annex (figure1) ............................................................................................................................................. p17

       The Sami people are a small ethnic minority which lives in the Lapland area of the countries
of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. Historically The Sami have been oppressed by the
populations that they coexist with. This oppression and subjugation created a want for a voice.
According to The Sami looked towards the land as their savior. During the middle part of the
twentieth century one can say that the Sami woke up from their long sleep. Thus began construction
of identity towards themselves and the environment which they inhabit. The people live on the
peripheral edge of the nation states which they inhabit, but only by choice. Similarly, they live on
the edge of reality. They invent their reality so as to make it paltipal to those looking in at them.

       The purpose of this paper is to investigate what images Sami‟s present to the general public
concerning environmental aspects. These abstractions of environment may not exist in totality, but
they exist no one the less because the actors have tailor made them to exist. Thru nuance and
rhetoric they have painted themselves as the children of the land. In other words metaphors of
reality have been made into a commercialised reality. The question that needs to be asked is why
and how these images are being presented. Why do the Sami want us to believe that this reality is
true? Why do Sami strive so hard to put themselves in a context of the environment and derive
meaning and identity from it. In summation the main research question this paper will try to answer
is for what purpose are the Sami are striving to create identity thru marketability? What is their goal
presenting themselves as the “natural people” or the stewards? Is the goal partially a desire to show
off the identity of “environmental consciousness” of the Sami? Or is it that Samis to some extent
use marketability to gain monetary rewards so as to further other goals?

       The argument that this paper wishes to make is that the Sami strive, at least partially, to
market themselves. Sami identity towards environmental concerns is crafted and manufactured so
as to make it a marketable entity. It is a reality that has been generated for many purposes. It is a
linking of identity to environment which creates a commercial property. This commercial property
has been manufactured and sold as reality. Metaphoric creations, imagery and rhetoric have been
made into reality. In other words, it has become so because the Sami say it is so
(, 14-10-2004, 1991).

              This idea and the questions it derives falls into the grey area. Although it may not be
expressly mentioned, it still does exist. The theory of Pragmatism will be used to flush out this idea
and its concerns for the exact reason that this subject is a grey. One can not see the totality of the
picture because such as thing is not possible. We are always left with the question of “maybe”.
Like the proverbial blind men touching the elephant; they see different parts of the animal, but can
never completely fathom to grasp what it entirely is.
Sámi history

       The Sámi people are the indigenous people living in the Fennoscandian area. This area
consists of the northern areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland, eastern Karelia and Kola Peninsula. It
is believed that the first people came to the area during and after the last ice age, following

       The first accounts about the Sámi go back to 98 C.E. in Tacite writing. Genghis Khan talked
also about them and has said that he would never try to fight again them. Sámis are not traditional
warriors like other people: they do not believe in war and disappeared in times of conflict. When
their living conditions changed they adapted themselves.

       In the Middle Age the Sámi lived principally in small communities, siidas, hunting seals and
fishing. Each groups owned his part of the territory for these activities. They also exchanged
animal furs, which were very demanded particularly in Russia and in the north countries.

       When different populations invaded the coastal area in Sweden and in Finland, Sámi people
were pushed back in the north of these countries. During this period Sweden, Norway (and after the
Danish-Norwegian alliance) and Russia claimed control of this area at the same time. The Sámi
people had to paid taxes at the different countries until 1826.

                                                                              Figure        2:     The
                                                                      region inhabited by the

                                                                              Since        the      12th
                                                                      century various priests were
                                                                      sent    in    to     the     Sámi
                                                                      territories     in   order     to
                                                                      convert them. Relationships
                                                                      were not always peaceful:
                                                                      persecutions                 were
committed. The first church is built in Lapland in 1603.

         During the 17th and the 18th centuries the colonists settled definitively and adapted ground
which is in opposition with the local tradition. In the first hand these farmers lived in houses and
produced different foods products which were appreciated by Sámi people: butter, wool, milk…
and in against part farmers adopted the local culture: habits, clothes, foods… But on the other hand
the farmers destroyed some animal species by abusive hunting activities. There were some conflicts
between settlers and Sámi which were mostly localised along the rivers and along the coasts. Even
so, the Sámi people gained rights on the land and the water in Sweden thanks to the King Gustav

         In 1850 social Darwinism, a racist ideology of cultural dominance and superiority, caused
many changes and the situation of Sámi degraded gradually, in particular in the school system.
Racists‟ ideas went on the theory of the natural selection and settlers thought that they were “much
more advanced than the racially primitive Sámi with their backward culture”(,13-10-04,

         At the same time the Industrial Revolution was churning full boar. The demand for raw
materials, as wood, increase suddenly. The boreal forest suddenly became an important economic
resource. The forest exploitation began without taking care of regenerations. Sámi traditional
ownership became an obstacle of the utilisation of the forest, the water and the iron ore. Power and
money were the most important. Laws were manipulated and Sámi people lost progressively their
rights on the natural resources.

         This policy hardened considerably between the two world wars. After the Second World
War the idea changed gradually. In 1960, in Norway Sámi people obtained rights to use and
developed their cultures. Today it is possible to study in Sámi language.

         Sámi have traditionally used the forest area for to survive: hunting, fishing, picking, reindeer
herding… The most important aspect is the reindeer production. In Norway and Sweden, Sámi are
the only ones allowed to raise these animals. There exist two different kinds of herding: the Sámi
who live in forest area the reindeers are breeding in the forest all the year. For those who live in the
mountains the herd move between the summer pasture area in the high mountain in Norway and
winter pasture in boreal woodlands in the east.
       The current situation, although it is advantageous, is by no means perfect. All problems
have not solved: forest industries are stronger and more forceful than the reindeer herding Sámi..
Reindeer‟s areas are protected and traditionally the herds have a right to use public and private land
in Sweden but modern forestry destroys the ground growing lichens which are the reindeer‟s main
food supply during winter. In addition the law has made distinctions between reindeer-herding and
non-reindeer-herding Sámi: those who do not herd reindeer lost their traditional lands and forests
use rights. The problems between Sámi and forest owner are far from being solved.

What is the Sami Identity?

       To understand a group of individuals one must ask what their constructed identity is and
where it comes from. Passi states that “Locality, region, nation, gender or ethnicity…may provide
frameworks for the rise of collective identities.” (Passi 2003, 145). Here concept of identity is built
in a context of historical references. Understanding these context will give us a better grasp of who
the Sami people are and where they have come from. It will secondly give us a better idea of how
they are using ideas, such as environment and culture, to market themselves.

       Sami culture and identity is inherently linked to the land and the environment (as stated in
the previous section). Sami‟s and their ancestors have herded reindeer in the area of northern
FennoScandia for thousands of years. The images presented by the Sami‟s to outsider is that of a
people who are stewards or shepards of the environment and the land. The Sami present an image of
their ancestors (and even themselves) living in an idyllic splendour that is at one with nature. All
other ideas are negated because they do not fit in with this concept of what their identity is.

       The Sami have been forced into a technological lifestyle because of factors out of their
control and thus they can not be blaimed. Sami identity is instead constructed and defined by their
cultural past. They gain their identity not because of current practices, but because of an identity
claim that is in the past. In other words, the agrarian past creates the identity that the Sami can show
to us in the present. They have built their identity from a historical basis.
Sami Identity on Display: Culture

       The Sami culture and identity is one that looks towards the past to perceive a certain type of
present. It allocates only what it needs and disregards the rest. Understanding this, one must now
ask the question of how such a thing is done.

       When looking at the way Sami culture was displayed during the excursion we see that
certain practices were negated or overtly displayed. The practices were given merit/disdain because
of the impact they had on the environment and the land. The most overt example of                  a
environmental merit was the cultural tradition of Reindeer herding. Almost no discussion was
mentioned on how exactly the current practices of herding impact the present day environment and
the people. Instead it was viewed as a clean and environmental product because the Sami view of
looking to the past had deemed it so. The reality of the subject of Reindeer herding and its true
environmental impact can be seen in the Norwegian case. Soil toxicity levels, because of overuse of
the land for grazing, have caused the Norwegian government to limit the amount of grazing that is
allowed within the country. Figure one displays the pattern of lichen removal from the Norwegian
area of Lapland (, 11-10-2004). Hence the view
that was displayed by the Samis to the group was one that was based on a constructed reality which
looked towards the past. The real view is not one that Samis wish to display to others.

       One example of the negating of certain practices could be seen during the “Sami Magic
Show”. The first room that the students were taken to showed how the Sami‟s had become a
technologically advanced people. The question that arose was “What would our ancestors say.
Would they even recognise us?”. This was all quickly pushed to the side as soon as one walked
through the next set of doors. Here identity was reconstructed to fit in with environmental concept
of idealic living. The magic show deemed that the present does not entirely define who the Sami

Why do the Sami Display Culture in this Manner?

       The question that must be asked now is why exactly do Sami display their culture by solely
looking backwards, rather than forwards? The answer can be found in the idea the marketing of
culture and identity thru networking. In Lehto‟s and Oksa‟s “Networks for Local Development:
Aiming for Visibility, Products and Success” one can overtly see the concepts that local actors can
use to gain marketable success. The authors state networks can be deconstructed into inputs and
outputs that interact with other aspects that further development. Thru the relative use of
interconnection a “thing” may become a viable market product. The Sami‟s seem to take this one
step froward as they link together the past to the present. In effect they level the playing field by
creating an identity that revolves around a past historical concept.

       One aspect in which the Sami have succeeded is making a connection to is between visible
product networks (Lehto & Oksa 5, 2004) and the idea of creating a network for a product out of a
place (Lehto & Oksa 10, 2004). The combination of these two concepts has created this idea that
their is an area that can be called a “Samiland”. The Sami‟s present this place as a borderless,
shapeless and fluctuating land that needs to be explored by travellers. They further romanticise the
„visible place product‟ by displaying images to consumers of an idyllic land of open environmental
space. This further promotes their identity as keepers of this land. The concept of uniqueness of the
place and the nature that inhabits made central to the promotions of the product. One example of
how idyllic rhetoric is used can be seen on the Sami website for the greater Karasjok area. The
authors speak of how one can sleep in idyllic luxury “in a lávuu (Sami tent) and more. You can
relax and at the same time learn about Sami culture by visiting Sampi (Sami theme park) sapmi.html,
visit a Sami-camp with a reindeer herding Sami, visit Engholms Husky, Europe‟s most unique dog
sledding kennels or wander around the village and shop, along with visiting our sight. If you are
interested in panning for gold, we have a gold panning camp 80km south of Karasjok centre. You
can stay overnight there in a turf-hut, lávuu (Sami tent) or a cabin. The cabin is of a simple standard
with a kitchen, shower and 2 bedrooms and is 1km from the gold panning camp”
(, 12.10.2004 ).

       This theme of over simplicity and lack of decadence is used continuously to describe the
character and the identity of Sami culture. The Lávuu is shown as an traditionally idealic place
where outdoor fantasies can be nurtured and fulfilled, rather than what it really is (i.e. a
representation of a deer skin tent, which is in fact made out of canvas). It is used as a metaphor that
can be bought and sold. It has meaning because of the context the metaphor is placed in. In other
words, the symbol of the Lávuu is true because it the Sami tell us what it is. Rather then allowing
one figure out on his own what it is, the Sami overtly state a meaning for it.
Environmental consciousness

       Sami people promote themselves as a people of nature. Does it mean that they have real
environmental consciousness? How can a person prove anything like environmental consciousness?

       When we talk about countries and their environmental consciousness, we focus on their
national environmental protection rules or more general environmental policy. Because
environmental problems have today a transboundary character, we can also talk about
environmental consciousness also in terms of international activity (strategy) of a state in
international field of environmental protection.

       Scandinavian countries are progressive leaders of international environmental policy. As
pioneers of european environmental policy indirectly influence global environmental protection
(Anderson, M.S., Liefferink, D., 1997). Is it somehow related to the ideas of natural people? Are
they somehow aspect or factor influencing strict environmental political strategy of Finland,
Norway or Sweden? Or is it really only created nature identity of Sami but in fact just a part of their
past like in case of historical development of all people (or nation or ethnic group) in the world? Do
they experience the same development like the other nations do for the purpose to have comfortable
”Western-European” lifestyle without any or minimal attention to the environmental protection.

       It is entirely in the purpose of this paper to answer all of these questions. Even so, we can
shortly focus on how important are these ”nature” people for something as environmental protection
in their national states or optionally international activity. So main research question in
environmental-political term could be : To what extend do they enforce (or are they trying), besides
language and land right topic, their environmental principals as their right to live in the countries.
The Goal of this section is to find any proof of environmental activity of Sami people, mainly some
innovative ideas.

       The most important instruments for such a manifestation of Sami‟s interests and
consciousness are political institutions, we can say Sami council, Sami‟s parliament (the
Sàmediggi) and Sami University College.

       The Sámediggi plenary consists of 39 representatives elected from 13 electoral districts in
Norway on the same date as the election to the Norwegian Parliament, every 4th year. The official
name is “The Parliamentary and Sámediggi Elections”. The Sámediggi plenary meets four time per
year, each session lasting five days.
           From this starting point it is natural to divide the work of the Sámediggi into two separate

1. as a Sami-political instrument in term of power of political initiative,

2. and as an administrative organisation covers various administrative tasks delegated to the

           Although one can argue that Sami Parliament has in fact no decision-making power and its
status is rather consultative, it can anyway bring some innovative ideas, create certain pressure to
government at national level and start required discussion. As a result of such a discussion we can
mention the admission of Finnmark Act. Thus on 4 April 2003 the Norwegian government
presented a new legal act called the “Finnmarksloven” (The Finnmark Act). The new legislation is
result of a 23 year long process that started in 1980 with the controversies related to the Alta-river
dam in the Sami area in Norway.(1) The Alta conflict resulted in the setting up of two influential
commissions, the Sami Rights Committee and the Sami Culture Committee.

           The Sami Rights Committee, set up in 1980, was given a mandate to clarify Sami rights and
propose courses of action. Its first report was presented in 1984 and formed the basis of
Parliamentary Bill no. 33, Concerning the establishment of an elected Sami assembly and other
matters relating to Sami rights.

           On 12th June 1987 the Sami Act was passed by Parliament to ensure a co-ordinated and
principled Sami policy. The aim of the Act is "to ensure favourable conditions to enable the Sami
people of Norway to maintain and develop its language, culture and social life."

           Simply, the results of the river Alta conflict for the Sami people were mirrored by similar
international developments concerning the protection of civil and political rights for minorities,
indigenous peoples and tribal peoples.

  The Alta affair
The decision to build a controversial power-dam across the river Alta at the end of the 1970s strongly focussed attention on the conditions facing the
Sámi people, as they struggled to maintain and develop their language, culture and social life. The prolonged conflict over the dam forced the
government to reappraise its policies towards the Sámi people.
The Alta conflict:
· exposed the enormous lack of knowledge about Sámi conditions in government departments· led to demands from the NSR (National Association of
Norwegian Sámi) and the NRL (Sámi Reindeer Herder's Association in Norway) for a government commission to look into Sámi land rights.
· helped to focus world attention on Norway's treatment of its own indigenous people (through the lávvu (tipi) protests and hunger strikes outside the
Norwegian Parliament building in Oslo) and demonstrated to Norwegians that "native-rights problems" did not only occur in far-way foreign
· exposed the need for a national Sámi assembly to represent all Sámis. (Disagreements among various Sámi organisations could always be used as an
excuse by the authorities to sit back and do nothing.)
       Work of Parliament is concentrated as it was written on enforcing rights of Sami people as
an ethnic minority. In term of environmental, the most important issue is reindeer herding and land-
use. During our excursion and neither after researching internets sources, no important innovative
environmental ideas coming from Sami parliament were found. Political innitiative is reduced only
to practical life of indigenous Sami people without any emphasis on their own environmental
contribution to solution of any environmental problems. But traditional knowledge of indigenous
people are today found to be very helpful in process of solution environmental problems that are in
their home area such a arctic region.

       Certain activities including indigenous nations to solving certain environmental problems
are supported by Sami Council which is another political institution of Sami people. As a
nongovernmental organisation is it‟s purpose to “promote Sami rights and interests in the four
countries where the Sami are living, to consolidate the feeling of affinity among the Sami people, to
attain recognition for the Sami as a nation and to maintain the economic, social and cultural rights
of the Sami in the legislation of the four states. (Norway, Sweden, Russia and Finland). This
objective can be achieved through agreements between these states and the bodies representing the
Sami people, the Sami parliaments. Sami Council renders opinions and makes proposals on
questions concerning Sami people‟s rights, language and culture and especially on issues
concerning Sami in different countries” (

       The council also make public some of feelings towards international agreements or events.
These are mainly related to rights of Sami people and using of heir “own” land, important is also
contribution to debate around indigenous people and northern periphery in EU. In this issues several
research documents are available. One example could me named: "Traditional Knowledge - a
Report prepared for the Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat" by Philip Burgess (1999).
Most of such a programme are however done particulary in territory of northern America, just a few
are somehow connected with region of Northern Europe and Sami people.

       Another important tool is Sami University College, which has knowledge of local specific
Sami living conditions. Although one can find that one of main three elements of Sami University
College scientific basis is sustainable development and biodiversity. All of the courses available at
this university today are specialised only in Sami culture, handicraft/decorative art and language.
Environmental research is expounded in many other educational centre in Lapland, such a
University of Arctic. The main reason for absence of any own ideas in environmental problems and
absence of any research conducted by Sami people could be related to impossibility to use Sami
language as a research language.

       Besides these institution several another international subject that are solving problematic of
indigenous people exists, such a United Nations. Mentioned ones should anyway be the first ones to
listen to voices of Sami people and are direct toll for such a eventual activity.

       But is there any such a activity? The fact is that we didn‟t find any sign of environmental
progressive strategy whether in national or international level. If one looks at the Sami congress
page for example, one will find that they are not working on any statutes currently (enviromental or
otherwise) (, 14-10-04, 2004). So if we summarise this chapter no important
political activity anyhow connected with environmental protection is not readabl. All work of
political institution is related to economic issues and reinforcement of Sami‟s rights. At the same
time it can be on possibility to enforce their position through their environmental knowledge in
countries as Scandinavian are. What does it mean then to be natural people?

       Now that one has unravelled the veneer behind the Sami imagery and rhetoric, along with
identity claims that are bound to the land, one can see that the marketing of the Sami is a monetary
political act. Sami power and Sami capital are both bound to identity and its buying and selling.
Sami institutions currently have no power to change governmental policy.

       What Sami‟s do have the power to do is to market their identity so as to build capital. From
one point of view this look as though they are building cultural capital (i.e. museums, lodge houses,
traditional activities). Although this idea is partially true, one must also understand that monetary
capital is being derived from the imagery and culture that is being presented This capital can be
partially allocated to further market the Sami to the Fennoscandic governmental powers that be.
Thus Samis can present their imagery and identity to governmental organisations. This makes them
a visible natural place product to a further group of more influential clients. With this access to
influences they can then fight for Sami rights under the guise of being a concerned and
“environmental conscious” entity.

       Recent difficulties that the Sami face are mainly education system proplems, language and
owning of territory where they live. Maybe after achievement of these demands they can start to
participate on something subregional or national or even global development.

       One can never truly know if these are complete answers to the questions this study has
asked. Even so, these are the answer that have generated to the images that have been presented
during this excursion. No others were readily available. Surely other points of view must exist.
These need to be investigated to get a better and more complete picture. The water needs to be
tested with more than just a toe.

Internet sources:
8. www.saamicouncil/net

1. Burgess P.(1999): Traditional Knowledge. Report prepared for the Arctic Council People‟s
   Secretariat. Copenhagen.
2. Lehto E., Oksa J.(2004): Networks for Local Development: Aiming for Visibility, Products and
   Success. Draft Thematic Report – Finland, Restructuring in Marginal Areas (RESTRIM).
   University of Oulu, University of Joensuu.
3. Duniho, F.(1991): The Mind/Body Problem and its Solution, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,
   NY USA.
4. Passi, A., Hakli, J. (2003): Geography, space and identity. In: Ohman, J., Simonsen, K. (ed):
   Voices from the North.. Aldershot, p. 141 - 155.
5. Anderson, M.S., Liefferink, D. (1997): Introduction: the impact of the pioneers on the the EU
   environmental policy. In: Anderson, M.S., Liefferink, D. (ed.):European environmental policy.
   The Pioneers. Manchester, University of Manchester, Press, p. 1 – 39.
6. Rynda, I. (2001): Mezinarodni spoluprace v trvale udrzitelnem svete. Mezinarodni politika, n. 2,
   p. 6 – 9.