Since the autumn of 1990 a trial in the district court in Sveg Sweden against four local Sami communities has been ongoing. The trial has questioned the Sami's rights to use certain parts of the forest area as grazing land for reindeer during the wintertime. Even though the highlands are sufficient for the needs during the summer they are certainly not adequate to provide food for the reindeer year round. Because of this the trial has been of vital importance for the survival of these communities. This trial was unique since it not only questioned the indigenous rights for a few individuals but the landrights for four communities affecting the Samis in a whole province.
By February 21 1996 the court reached a decision, which
is that the Sami's have no right whatsoever to use privately owned areas
in the forest land for wintergrazing.
After the trial Olov Johansson - chairman of Glen Sami community - said that: "For us being an indigenous people, this decision wasn't suprising." The Swedish justice administration is obviously not able to protect the rights of its indigenous population, and in this question this country is not better than any other colonial power."
is just another proof that we are nothing but second rate citizens in this
country. The most bitter part is that this verdict seemes to deny the existence
of our culture and implies that we havn't existed in this country for centuries."
The landowners have had nothing monetarily to lose by this trial; their legal costs were covered by the insurance companies. On the other hand, the economy of the affected Sami communities is a completely different story:
All court costs had to be paid from the community's common funds, a total of 3.8 million SKr or about .5 million American dollars. Which is about the same sum as the community's total fortune (reindeer included). This is dangerously close to backruptcy for these communities according to Attorney Jorgen Bolin at the Sami organization SSR. "Especially since the landowners now have asked the executory authorities to immediately collect the legal fees from the four Sami communities."
There's a chanse we might do something about this,
if there's a significant number of individuals and
organizations who join our protest.
If you agree please register your name through e-mail.
all comments are -of course- also welcome.
Click on the flag to send an
e-mail to the Swedish Sami Organization SSR.
If you have filed your protest -thank you-
in any case you might now:
More on this same subject from the website of the chaiman of Tåssåsen Sami community(And yes a friend of mine).
Or read this update from September 1998, we warn that we have no good news in this matter:
Those who wants to make a thourough
study on this subject might check this link with:
Seminar on Indigenous Land Rights and Claims: