Saebmie - the South Saami area of the pan-Saami area usually referred to as Sápmi
The area where my ancestors have lived and worked for at least 10,000 years has often been described as the last European wilderness, a place untouched by humans. Despite the fact that several proofs of our existence can be found in the so called ‘wild’, Swedish colonialism has relied on a basic history where most of northern Scandinavia could be referred to as a Terra Nullius and any evidence of Saami settlements could be ignored. To this day, when a grave is found on our traditional lands, people react with amazement, as our own histories are repeatedly ignored by the majority.
‘So people did in fact live here! How fascinating!’
In short, by referring to our lands as ‘wild’, it becomes much easier to question our traditional land claims, which in turn opens up our areas for exploitation by e.g. mining companies. As much of our history is oral, it can easily be dismissed in courts, which is why it is of utmost importance for us to document each and every evidence of human presence on our lands. Not only do we by documenting our lands get a clearer understanding of our own history, at the same time it strengthens us in our identity.
And to help people document our lands, here are some examples of things that may seem like perfectly natural parts of a ‘wilderness’, but which proves that we’ve been in the area for millennia. We cannot be dismissed as ‘having never existed’, just because our interaction with our lands is based on the idea of treating it with the utmost respect, meaning that we wouldn’t fuck it over in the same way as colonisers would.
A collection of bones from slaughtered animals
Graves in Röbäck, Ubmeje, next to where I was born
Petroglyphs in Stornorrfors
Pine tree used as a ladder
Stalo settlements in Vualtjere
A stone oven from Norsjö
All of this.