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Reindeer herding under pressure

BÅATSOE BEHTJIEDIMMIEN NUELESNE - Reindeer herding under pressure

In the 1850s, Sámi families found support in the legal system. The right to a home and reindeer pasture was laid down on the basis of longstanding use. In the decades that followed, the situation changed. There were claims from many quarters for compensation for damage to grazing land, and doubts were raised about the right of the Sámi to pasture. The Sámi families lost these cases, and many of them moved from their lands.

Many of the cases were concerned with damage to summer pastures and grazing land. The farmers claimed that the Sámi families had no right to stay in the area, even though the summer pastures were often located on old reindeer meadows or Sámi settlements.

The situation in the Røros Sámi area was unusual, and there were several reasons why things came to a head right here. The mining industry, which had exercised a hold on the land and the people in the region for 200 years, was changing rapidly at that time. Before the Røros railway arrived in 1877, very many farms had a mixed economy based on agriculture and on the production and transport of charcoal for the copper works. After the railway was constructed, charcoal was replaced by coke, and many people lost an important source of income. This made agriculture many people’s sole livelihood. At the same time, agriculture was undergoing modernisation, opening the way for more efficient operation and more animals, and creating a need for larger areas. Competition for outfield land increased.

Photos (from left):

1. Slaughtering reindeer. Both young and old are assisting in the work.

2. Participants in a meeting at Stinnerbom’s house in Stordalen, Meråker, 1 May 1926. Among other things, the meeting decided to send Lars Danielsen and Jon Fjellgren to northern Jämtland to campaign against the trade in live reindeer with farmers in Valdres. 

3. Røros society was glad of the reindeer meat that the Sámi supplied, and it was usual for the Sámi to come into Røros with their herds. The picture is from Gjettjønna lake in Røros, ca. 1900.

4. It takes technique and precision to lasso a reindeer bull.

5. Lea Barrock milking a reindeer cow in Skarpdalen, Tydal, in 1923. Dairy farming came to an end in the first decades of the 20th century, in favour of meat production. This arose particularly out of the need for cash following the many compensation cases which caused great expense to the Sámi.

6. Work with reindeer when the old type of wattle pen was still in use.

Court cases (photos from left):

1. There were many court cases in the Southern Sámi area in the 20th century. The picture shows an inspection during proceedings in Ålen in 1923.

2. Marit and Morten Kant worked as reindeer herders for a while after giving up their own animals. Here they are thought to be in Trollheimen. Many families had to stop reindeer herding as a result of the conflicts at the end of the 19th century.

3. Serri and Paul Johnsen, together with other families, were involved in many court cases over the years, including disputes north of Aursunden, near Riasten and in upper Gauldalen. Here they are at their summer quarters in the 1890s. 

4. The brothers Morten and Jonas Mortensen were among those deprived of the right to herd reindeer in Sålekinna, Nord-Østerdal in 1890. Here they are in Hådalen near Røros around 1930.

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    Ukjent, Rørosmuseets arkiv
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    Ukjent, Lars Danielsens samling
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    Iv. Olsen, Rørosmuseets arkiv
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    Ukjent, Finborud-samlingen, Rørosmuseet