Ethnic tensions on the tundra

Sami reindeer herders in northern Norway call for stricter regulations of all non-Sami activities in their pasture land. That prepares the ground for conflicts with the other population in the region.

By The Barents Observer

Police representatives in the northernmost county of Finnmark now confirm to NRK  TV that is a growing fear for open conflict and violence between representatives of the Sami reindeer herders and the other population in the region.

The Sami land claims do not only cover the northern parts of Norway. About half of all Norwegian territory is part of the traditional reindeer pasture land, the Sami reindeer herders say. As BarentsObserver has reported, that position is shared by the Sami Parliament, including Sami President Egil Olli.

The Sami demands are currently assessed by the Ministry of Justice. Should they be approved by government, that could bring further tensions between the Sami population and the other groups in the area.

Leader of the Farmers Association in Finnmark, Gunnar Johnsen, says to NRK that he fears that major land areas in the region will be completely sealed off for the public in big parts of the year. That will most likely result in violence, he admits.

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