Mining Sápmi: Colonial Histories, Sámi Archaeology, and the Exploitation of Natural Resources in Northern Sweden

Marte Spangen, Anna-Kaisa Salmi, Tiina Äikäs, Carl-Gösta Ojala and Jonas M. Nordin


In recent years, there has been a large-scale boom in mining in the present-day Swedish part of Sápmi, leading to protests from Sámi activists as well as environmentalist groups. To the protesters, issues of Swedish colonialism and Sámi indigeneity are central, and history becomes important. Taking its starting point in the mining conflicts, this article discusses Sámi archaeology and claims for Sámi indigenous land and cultural rights. We argue that it is important to further explore the colonial history in Sápmi, and its meaning and consequences today. Archaeology can contribute with new perspectives on colonial histories and relations, and connections between past and present in Sápmi. At the same time, many issues concerning the ethics and politics of archaeology need to be discussed. Furthermore, in discussions on Sámi archaeology and heritage management in Sápmi, it is important to consider experiences from the international fields of postcolonial studies and indigenous archaeology.

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