Ethics in the Landscape: Prehistoric Archaeology and Local Sámi Knowledge in Interior Finnmark, Northern Norway

Marianne Skandfer

Abstract

Taking an ethical stand as an archaeologist working in Sápmi, the historically known land of the indigenous Sámi, means to acknowledge and respect the validity and relevance of local Sámi knowledge about the past and the landscape. How a landscape is used depends particularly on how it is experienced, understood, and valued. Sites are valued locally as part of Sámi prehistory, and they are remembered through stories about the landscape. I have included information from local Sámi inhabitants in my survey of archaeological sites in the Deatnu/Tana and Báhc aveadji/Pasvik River valleys. Knowledge of the Stone Age semi-subterranean “Gress-bakken” houses, as revealed through archaeological excavations, and Sámi local landscape knowledge and myths, span over 4,000 years. Although the particular meanings of myths and stories change over time, Sámi oral tradition is relevant to prehistoric archaeology because both sites and narratives relate to ways of experiencing the local landscapes.

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