Text by:
Nils Gustav Labba
Feb. 1999

Web-edition by:
Hanjo Schlüter
Sept. 1999

Historical Calendar

From the Past to the Present -

Looking into Issues of Law

98 A.D.

The Roman Tacitus writes about the Fenni, i.e. the Finnish, in his work Germania. The Fenni were said to be hunters.

555 A.D.

The Byzantine Prokopius writes about Thule, probably referring to Scandinavia. One of the tribes on the island is the ‘Skridfinns’, who do not farm the land. Instead they are hunters and live off the meat from the killed animals, dressing in hides, put together with sinews from the animals.

750 A.D.

The Langobard Paulus Diaconus writes about the Skridfinns. They are hunters. Diaconus describes skis, the reindeer and the reindeer fur coat.

towards the end
of the
900th century

The Norwegian Ottar reports about domesticated reindeer and valuable decoy reindeer. Ottar himself keeps 600 tame reindeer, which Sámi people probably tend for him. Reindeer herding therefore must have been existing already at this time. Ottar collects taxes from the Sámi, in form of skins and fur, ship ropes and feather. This so called ‘Finn tax’ (Finn meaning Sámi in Norwegian) is the most important source of income to Ottar.

The Viking Age

The Icelandic myths tell about the Sámi. Most references are to the trade with skins and fur being done with the Sámi. Skins were the most important trade goods during the Viking Age. Tradesmen, tax collectors and robbers fight about the goods.

The Middle Age

The tax collectors called ‘Birkarlar’ have the right to barter with the Sámi and collect tax from them. These Birkarlar are said to be, according to one of many theories, Finns from Birkala municipality outside Tammerfors. The tax collecting right of them is replaced with a small fee to the state – a “jurisdictional confirmation of their robbery”. The Birkarlar divide the land of the Sámi among themselves, in three trade districts called ‘Lappmarker’. Some Sámi communities pay taxes to three countries – Sweden, Denmark and Russia – since there are no borders in the north.


Rectification of the frontier between Sweden and Russia.


In a letter from the state ruler Knut Jonsson, dated December 5, 1328, in Telge, concerning the settling and cultivation of the very northern-most part of Hälsingland, the word ‘Lapp’ is used for the first time in a Swedish document. It is clearly marked in the letter that the inhabitants of Hälsingland may not hinder the forest men or the nomads, called Lapps, in their hunting trade.


In the letter from king Magnus of March 16, 1340, the king sanctions a statute concerning the colonisation of the Lappmark. The concept Lappmark is thereby introduced as a legal definition in Swedish case-law and later on in the law itself. In the letter it is commanded that the law and custom of Hälsingland be carried out there.


According to the Land Law of Kristoffer from 1442, hunting is a right which befalls the land-owner only, in the same way as fishing. The Land Law statutes compensation duty and fines, if violation of hunting or fishing rights takes place.
In the Byggninga act of Kristoffers Land Law from 1442 it is sanctioned that the hunting right for outsiders depends on the permission of all land owners with part ownership of the forest give their permission.


To gain control over the tax grounds the state divides the Sámi into Sámi communities. At the same time the state takes over the tax right of the Birkarlar and appoint the king’s own sheriffs to ensure the taxes being brought to the state treasury.


In a letter to the farmers in Hälsingland, Ångermanland and Medelpad Gustav Vasa says that areas that are not inhabited “belong to God, we, the crown of Sweden and noone else”.
The letter has been questioned, sometimes used in the discussion as evidence supporting the fact that the state owns the land in the Sámi area. Historians and experts on the history of law are, however, more doubtful.
This letter’s stance, together with the forest regulation of 1683, is that noone can acquire land by occupation only. On one hand colonisation is encouraged under direct state governing of taxes to the crown, on the other hand it is not allowed to use large areas of forests and wilderness, with unfounded claims of ownership, thus hindering the colonisation.


In a royal letter from June 3, 1543, king Gustav Vasa tells the inhabitants of Ångermanland and Umeå parishes not to take the game that the Sámi have brought down. The king threats to punish people if they violate the hunting rights of the Sámi. Since the Sámi pay taxes like the farmers, they shall hunt undisturbed.


Changes in the tax system are brought on. The crown starts to collect taxes in the form of fish and reindeer instead of fur. The maintenance basis of the Sámi society declines. A crisis appears around 1610. To cope with the crisis the Sámi expand on the previously rather small reindeer herds. Both tax reasons as well as trade reasons make the Sámi forced to increase their number of reindeer substantially. It is a fact that the income from reindeer herding, hunting and fishing are taxed apart from the taxation of lakes, rivers and land areas (Lapp tax mountain, etc).


The first churches are built in Lapland.


King Karl IX at his coronation entitles himself, among other epithets, ‘King of the Lapps in the Northern Lands’, in his long title.


The Sámi Peder Olsson finds silver ore at Nasafjäll. The mining starts in the hands of the crown in 1635, continuing until 1659. The mine is believed to be a promising ‘treasury’ and the crown tries to claim Swedish superiority all the way to the mountain ridge. The Lappmark must be tied to the crown in a serious manner. More churches and schools are built and preasts are appointed as an element of the new Lappmark policy. The Sámi are exploited very hard. Altogether 24 Lapps and 300 reindeer are needed for transporting the ore between Nasafjäll and the foundry at Silbojokk. Moreover 20 Lapps are used for transporting material to the foundry. At the Nasafjäll mine alone, there are 74 Lapps and 600 reindeer for this purpose.
They are subjected to force and violence and are pulled under the ice if they refuse to carry ore with their reindeer. Many Sámi escape and the Sámi population decreases substantially in Lule and Pite Lappmarks. The state takes measures against the ‘escapability’ of the Lapps.


In the forest regulation of 1664 the tax farmers’ right to the nobilities big game is restricted. It is also decided that the hunting of moose, stag and roe deer, i.e big game, is a royal privilege. The big game hunting for the peasantry has already been forbidden in 1647, with the exception of Norrland and Finland. The Sámi hunting in the Sámi area is not restricted.


The 1673 Lappmark bill is passed. It can be said to mark the formal starting point of the colonisation era in the Lappmark. The general idea of the bill is to encourage settling in the Lappmark. The designer of the bill is Johan Graan, governor and of Sámi descent.
Gran introduces the so called ‘parallel theory’, where he claims that ‘the Lapp man trade’, i.e. the traditional economy of the Sámi, and ‘the yeo-man trade’, i.e. farming, can live side by side.
The Lappmark bill is amended in 1695 and 1749.


In the forest regulation of 1683 it is clearly stated that whatever area of the great forest areas that are not used, or rightfully belong to any homestead, village, parish or hundred shall be “We the Crowns rights and private property”. In the tax mountain case the Attorney-General claims the forest regulation, which declares the wilderness the private property of the crown.
The same goes for the Lappmark, which the state bases its ownership on in 1683. In the tax mountain case the Supreme Court states, however, that any ownership for the state is not at hand with the 1683 forest regulation, but through later interpretations of regulations and legal development.


His Royal Highness commands that court sessions are to be held in all Lappmarks to try the question of possible idolatry. The drums of the Sámi shamans, Noajddi, are to be burnt. Obstructers are punished with “whipping by the court-house wall” or are sentenced to running the gauntlet. Seites (holy stones) and sacrificial grounds are torn down and Sami holy places are desecrated.


The Sámi Lars Nilsson in Norrvästerbyn, Arjeplog, 60 years old, is burnt at the stake together with his drum.
A six-year-old grandson of Lars Nilsson has fallen into a creek and drowned, and Nilsson tries to revive the boy with the help of the powers of the drum. Nilsson is caught in the act and sentenced to “be burnt at the stake” by Svea Court of Appeal.


Through the Lapp tax reform in 1695 the Lapp community becomes an administrative unit, for tax purposes, mainly.
After the reindeer husbandry act of 1971 the term is Sámi community.

At the court sessions in Offerdal, Jämtland, the Lapp Jon Olof Skörben is accused of having brought down a moose in another’s territory. Skörben affirms that he has shot the moose in the forest below his tax mountain.
Skörben claims to have heard that the Lapps have permission to bring down moose in their land, which is prohibited for the farmers. In its verdict the court states that it can be assumed that he has brought down the animal “on his allowed land and grazing land”, because he has brought the skin to the local policeman.
According to a royal resolution dated March 10, 1685, the court states that Skörben has the right to bring down moose with fire-arms. According to the same resolution the farmers only have right to catch moose in hunting pits or traps. Similar cases are on trial in Undersåker 1693 and Hammerdal 1719.


The states colonial policy in the Sámi area creates conflicts between the Sámi and the settlers. The Sámi keep up their position until the middle of the 18th century due to, among other things, the fact that the Sámi hold a majority in the layman panels of the local courts.
In the law of 1734 the layman panel committees are changed which weakens the position of the Sámi in relation to the Swedish settlers.
The position of the tax mountains begins to weaken during the 18th century.
The owner of a tax mountain is called tax Lapp, in the same way as the owner of a tax homestead is called tax farmer. In Jämtland and Härjedalen the areas are called tax mountains.
The legal status of the tax mountains is for a long period of time the same as the tax homesteads. Tax mountains can be inherited, bought and sold. As late as the end of the 19th century, mountain Sámi pay forest Sámi with reindeer, in exchange for staying on the tax mountain of the forest Sámi during winter.
The owner of the tax mountain also leases fishing and hunting to other Sámi and sometimes to non-Sámi. 
The right of inheritance to the tax mountains is beginning to be denied by the courts dominated by committees with Swedish majority. The attitude that the Sámi only own the right to reindeer grazing, hunting and fishing (among other rights) becomes increasingly common at the Swedish administration.


Carl von Linné visits Lapland. His research results among other works in ‘Iter Lapponicum’ and ‘Flora Lapponica’, published in Amsterdam 1737.


The court in Hammerdal on April 7 tries a case where the settler Pär Johansson is sued by the tax Lapps Jon and Per Johnsson for using beaver nets in their waters.
In court the tax Lapps present an old letter from 1652 and the verdict of a hundred court of November 27, 1721, where it is pronounced that each settler putting out beaver nets in their waters shall be fined and pay court expenses.


The Lappmark regulation shows that the Sámi have exclusive hunting rights. Originally the hunting rights in the remoter mountain area were not of any interest to anyone than the Sámi. The state completely lacked motive to own such rights.


The Lappmark border. Above the Lappmark border the coast farmers shall not have the right to hunt and fish anymore. Hunting and fishing is the prerogative of the Sámi and the settlers. In this way the crown can distinguish more easily between “the land of the crown” and farmers’ land. This is essential for taxation issues and where settlements can be made.
In 1751 the rectification of the border between the two countries Sweden and Finland and Denmark and Norway is begun, following the outline of the watershed. To the border treatises two codicils are enclosed. One establishes the rights and responsibilites of the nomad Sámi in both states. This means among other things that the Sámi during spring and autumn moving shall be able to move their reindeer into the other state, according to old custom. They may also use “land and shore” to provide for themselves, even in times of war. In regard the Sámi may not commit any hostile action in the other state.
The codicil also establishes the fact that no Sámi any longer shall “own tax or customary land” in more than one state, and only pay taxes to one state.


At the court in Enontekis the Sámi Olof P Kuttainen has sued the settlers Nils H Niva and Johan O Mäimmi to court for putting out wild reindeer traps on his grazing land. The settlers claim that they have put out traps in the same area earlier, moreover no reindeer have been trapped on this occasion, either.


One of the most important elements of the state’s colonial policy is the land division. It is started in Norrland in the end of the 18th century and finishes in Norrbotten at the turn of the century in 1900. The land division means a final division between the different communities, between the crown and between private property.
In connection to the land division in Jämtland and Härjedalen, the tax mountains are established as separate units. In the so called tax mountain case, NJA 1981, p 1, there was a dispute over the nature of the real estate law.
The tax mountains in Västerbotten and Norrbotten were not divided in the same way as in Jämtland and Härjedalen. This has among other things to do with the former liberal forest policy being abandoned. In the final stage the parliament and the land law states that the unregistred areas in the Lappmark are for the Lapps’ use only.


The basic hunting legislation in Sweden during the 19th century is the royal regulation of April 13, 1808, dealing with hunting, and the hunting regulation issued October 21, 1864.
In the hunting regulation of 1808 it is prescribed that each one who legally owns or possesses land owns the right to all hunting.


According to the judicial decision in the case of the tax mountains, the hunting rights of the Sámi for the time of the constitution of 1809, is protected by section 16 and to some extent section 77.
According to these paragraphs of the constitution the hunting right may not be taken from its owner as long as it can be pursued unless regulated compensation is made:
- The ground for compensation is regulated by law.
The same rules apply in the current constitution of 1994.

The border between Norway and Finland is rectified.


In Norrbotten the Sámi right of inheritance is rejected, since the right to the tax mountains is considered to be only of a ‘customary right’ character.


The regional authorities in Västerbotten announce the possibility of being able to separate a tax Lapp from his land if the Lapp loses his reindeer herd.


A royal letter points to the fact that the rights of the Sámi must not be over-looked in the land registration. The tax mountains shall have their borders properly settled.


It is decided that the language in the permanent Sámi schools shall be adapted to the language of the majority in the parish.
Herbert Spencer gives lectures on the natural selection as a struggle between individuals, social classes and races. 
In late 19th century literature the Sámi are often portrayed in an negative way. They are described as fickle and suspicious. 
They are compared with children, which is normal for the time when describing other races. According to Britt Upman (Kvist, 1992), “it is striking how comments characterising the Sámi racially more or less inferior, were brought up by writers with views on trade issues in the Lappmark.” 
The view on Sámi showing in the Parliament debates is filled with the clichés common in literature. The dying out of the Sámi was even in the Parliament preferably seen as something inevitable. 
The racist way of thinking becomes an argument in the competition over the natural resources.

and 1871

Gustaf von Düben visits Lapland. He collects material to the book ‘On Lapland and the Lapps’, (1873). Von Düben among other things devotes himself to measuring sculls of Sámi persons and taking photographs of them.

- 1873

An economic/jurisdictional border called the cultivation border is drawn between the mountain region and the forest region in Västerbotten and Norrbotten. More detailed regulations are found in the Reindeer Husbandry Act of 1886 and 1898.


It is decided that Swedish is the main language in the permanent Sámi schools.

June 6, 1883

A regulation is issued on the Lapps moving with reindeer between the united kingdoms of Sweden and Norway. The regulation is passed 1884 and applies in principal until 1920. The third paragraph says that the Sámi on both sides have hunting and fishing rights in areas where they have reindeer grazing rights. The current convention goes back to 1972 and has the same regulations.

and 1898

The reindeer grazing act. The Sámi are guaranteed the right to reindeer grazing, which among other things mean that the customary rights to winter grazing below the cultivation border and outside the winter grazing lands in the mountain range is established. Tax mountains are named reindeer grazing mountains. The individual right of the Sámi to land and waters becomes a solely collective right for the Sámi community. In the reindeer grazing act it is clear that the area above the cultivation border and in the reindeer grazing mountains is for Sámi use only. 
With the preparatory works to the reindeer grazing act of 1898, it is questioned if the land below the cultivation border is for Sámi use only, and in the reindeer grazing act of 1928 the land below the cultivation border is finally excluded from Sámi use only. 
Sámi administration of hunting and other things is put under state authority referring to the Sámi not being seen as capable of handling their own affairs, due to racial and cultural level of development. 
The reindeer grazing regulations deteriorate the political status of the reindeer herding Sámi.The right to reindeer grazing is no longer taxed as capital, which means that it gives neither political or municipal right to vote.

end of the
19th century

Forestry and mining blooms. The great financial opportunities can only be realised by violating the rights of the Sámi.


The crown buys home-steads in Jämtland, which are added to the tax mountains since they have been too reduced as an effect of the registration.


The Lappish Central Association is formed. On its agenda they have among other things the claiming of Sámi rights above the cultivation border.


The Swedish-Norwegian union is dissolved and Norwegian authorities encourage a colonisation of the summer grazing lands of Swedish Sámi.


The hunting regulation of 1912. Following the revision of the reindeer grazing act of 1886, a revision of the hunting regulation of 1864 takes place. The law is passed in 1912. 
In the sixth section of the act it is statuted after resolutions in the Parliament that the ownership of hunting rights on the land belonging to owners of state crofts within the six northern regions befalls the owners of the state crofts or farming properties on state land. The right to hunt moose is excluded. The right to hunt for the Sámi is dismissed to the regulation of the reindeer grazing act.


The Sámi Nomad School Regulation brings on the disreputed hut schools. Swedish dominates in teaching.

- 1920

The Swedish segregation policy creates a system of institutional racism. A race biological institute is etablished in Uppsala. The Sámi are considered unable to handle their own affairs. A Lapp administration with special clerks is appointed to function as ‘guardians’.


The Iron Ore Railway between Kiruna and Narvik is finished and starts its traffic.

February 6, 1917

The first Sámi national gathering is held in Trondheim, with legendary Sámi advocate Elsa Laula as initiator. The day of the meeting is later on established as the national day of the Sámi.


The first reindeer grazing convention between Sweden and Norway is agreed upon. The convention is a result of the dissolving of the union in 1905, and regulates in detail the summer grazing rights of the Swedish Sámi in Norway. The Sámi in the Karesuando area lose large parts of their former summer grazing land, and in Sweden a substantial dislocation of Sámi persons to southern reindeer grazing lands takes place. The structure of the Swedish reindeer husbandry is changed radically when more than 200 Sámi families from northern Sámi communities are forced to move south.


The hydro-power station in Porjus is finished. The spring flood of the Great Lule River is used for producing electricity.


At Lilla Sjöfallet (Suorva) the first regulating dam is finished, some 110 km from Porjus. The area, previously a wilderness, reindeer grazing land and location for a large number of Sámi settlings is drowned in the deluge. The state disregards the fact that the intrusion is made in a national park.


New reindeer grazing act statutes: “Areas designated for the sole use of the Sámi concerning grazing, hunting or fishing or other utility, shall not be handed over to anyone else. If licences are given, they are null and void.”
According to the reindeer grazing act, state servants also may be given hunting and fishing rights for house-hold need, when performing services in the Lappmark.


A new hunting act is passed. According to section 7, five types of users of private estates above the cultivation border in the regions of Norrbotten and Västerbotten, have the right to hunt within each real estate respectively, with the exception of the right to hunt moose. 
The hunting rights of the Sámi are regulated in the reindeer grazing act.

and 1940

The dam level is raised even further in the regulated waters of the Suorva dam. The Sámi in Sirkas Sámi community (mainly the Vaisa group, consisting of dislocated Sámi from Karesuando), are forced to move their settlements away from the water.
In a case of principle matter the Attorney-General at the Supreme court points to the fact that: - The act makes it clear that exclusive right to reindeer grazing is ensured to the Lapps on land above the cultivation border. But there is reason to believe that also the right to hunting and fishing there also befalls the Sámi exclusively, (NJA 1942, p 336 ff).


The hut school system ends and the education of Sámi children is reformed. Nomad schools with boarding system for the pupils are built, and term periods are introduced, giving the Sámi schools a closer resemblance to the Swedish schools.


The Supreme Court sentences a Sámi person in Sirkas Sámi community for illegal hunting, since he is not considered belonging to the Sámi community, referring to section 8 of the reindeer grazing act from 1928, (NJA 1946, p 20).

The United Nation’s declaration on human rights is passed the General Assembly on December 10. From the 56 membership countries at the time, 48 voted for the declaration, while the rest of the countries, (the Eastern bloc, Saudi-Arabia and South Africa) abstained from voting.


The Supreme Court in a hydro-power case declares that the Sámi communities are authorised to plead for damages for encroachment on the reindeer herding, which implements the Sámi in their legal struggle.


The Supreme Court in a court-case declares that the crown’s ownership of the land in Lapland is not tied to any rights to reindeer herding. The Sámi therefore have exclusive rights to reindeer herding.


In the so called Altevatn case in the Norwegian Supreme court, Swedish Sámi are granted compensation for the loss of reindeer grazing and fishing on the Norwegian side of the border. The case applied to the hydro-power exploitation of the lake Altevatn in Talma and Sarivuoma Sámi communities´summer grazing land in Norway. The Altevatn case is a matter of important principle to the Sámi in Sweden in terms of regulation of the Swedish Sámi right to reindeer grazing in Norway.


A new reindeer husbandry act is passed by the Parliament. The new law reforms the Sámi communities into a kind of economic corporation, with collective responsibility for the reindeer herding. 
The reindeer husbandry act divides the Sámi into reindeer herders and non-reindeer herders, with separate legal status and separate possibilities of taking part in and use the resources of the Sámi communities. The division of the Sámi into two separate groups was a fact.

- 1981

The tax mountain case, where Sámi communities have sued the Swedish state claiming better rights to land and waters, is brought before the district-court in Östersund in May, 1966, and closed by the Supreme Court in January, 1981. The Sámi community does not gain hearing for their main issue, but the judgment makes it clear that a nomad people may acquire ownership to land and waters by long-term use and occupation.

- 1987

The Sámi rights investigation is brought on by the government in 1983. From Sámi point of view the demand for an investigation of the legal status of the Sámi was an attempt to reach a political solution after losing the tax mountain case. The Sámi rights investigation presents its final statement in 1989, suggesting among other things the establishing of a Sámi parliament in Sweden.


A major accident in the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl. Radioactive fallout over Sápmi, the land of the Sámi. 73.000 reindeer are gone to waste the first year because of the rate of cesium being too high. Fish, game, berries, fungae and waters are contaminated. The Swedish limit, 300 becquerel cesium-137/kilo means that the main part of the meat production from the reindeer trade is blocked from distribution. 
The following year the Swedish Food Administration removes a large problem simply by raising the cesium limit for reindeer meat and game to 1.500 Bq/kg, while the limit for other foods stays the same.


The new hunting act is passed by the Parliament. The head of ministry in proposition 1986/87:58 approves of suggestions concerning co-ordinated moose hunting and the regulations concerning the hunting rights of the Sámi.
The main point is that moose hunting recquires a licence and a licensed area. The hunting rights of Sámi community members is acknowledged a part of the usage rights of reindeer herding. 
The new act also introduces the concept of “the land-owner’s hunting right on state land”, which means that the representatives of the state suddenly speaks about doubled hunting rights.
Tåssåsen Sámi community, and others, introduces a system for grouse hunting, in their own hunting associations. Licensed hunting was disposed of by lottery to areas where there were no risk for disturbances on the reindeer herding.


The customary right process starts in Härjedalen by the forest companies Stora, MoDo and Korsnäs, together with some private land-owners. They hand in an application for summoning five Sámi communities to the district-court in Sveg. The forest companies claim that the Sámi communities have no customary right to reindeer grazing land on the main part of the land below the reindeer grazing mountains. The forest companies and the Sámi effect a reconciliation later on, where the usage of the land for reindeer grazing is guaranteed, while the legal case is rested.
Some 700 private land-owners continue the law-suit on their own, however, with the original demand as their major claim.


The Social-Democrat government presents bill 1990/91:4, on changes in the reindeer husbandry act, to the Parliament. The bill has the first proposition of the hunters and the farmers’ organisations to a new licence system for the small game hunting. There is, however, nothing in the bill about the propositions of the Sámi rights investigation. The bill was referred back to the government by the Parliament, demanding the government to present a joint Sámi bill, building on the propositions put forward by the Sámi rights investigation. The decision in the Parliament also indicates the needs of the ruling parties, conservatives and left wing, to establish a Sámi parliament.


The hunters’ organisations, Jägarna, and the farmers’ organisations, LRF, in Spring calls on MP Hans Daun, appointed Sámi expert in the Parliament by the government, with a re-modelled proposition on the system of the small game hunting, preliminary to bill 1992/93:32. 
The Sámi organisations are kept uninformed of the present terms of writing concerning the grant of hunting and fishing enjoyments within the areas of the Sámi communities. 
The government presents its joint Sámi bill in September 1992, with propositions on establishing a Sámi Parliament, changes in the reindeer husbandry act and the free enjoyment of small game hunting and fishing in the mountain range. 
In October the bill is burnt at the Sámi´s extra national meeting in Luleå, protesting against the proposition of enjoyments of small game hunting and fishing.
In November the Discrimination Supervisor, judge Frank Orton, pleads that the departments in question shall not “force a legislation onto the Sámi which they consider counter-acting the basic Sámi rights”. This is done before the hearing of bill 1992/93:32.
The departments take no notice of Orton´s letter, and all bills supporting the Sámi are not passed. On December 15, the bill is passed by the Parliament, against the will of the Sámi. The bill has the re-modelled proposition from Jägarna and LRF concerning the small game hunting above the cultivation border and in the reindeer grazing mountains.
The nature conservation organisations and the lease-holders of real estates in the mountains have also been left out of the process. They protest. 
The Sámi are now not even allowed to have their own hunting association dealing with the hunting and fishing enjoyments.
On the same day, December 12, 1992, the Parliament decides to establish a Sámi parliament. Its authority is limited, already at the start, and the demand for a Sámi language law is not met with by the Parliament.
The status of the Sámi parliament is clearly stressed in both the bill from the government and the report from the standing committee on the constitution.
“In spite of the term ‘parliament’, it is no question of a body for self-government, replacing Parliament or local government, or competing with these bodies.”
The first section of the Sámi parliament act does not leave any room for a different interpretation, either:
Constitutionally there is no doubt about the role of the Sámi parliament. According to the Swedish constitution the electors of the Sámi parliament do not represent any parlamentary power beyond the right to vote for Parliament, county council or local government.
“In section 1 in this act regulations on a specific authority is given to the Sámi parliament, with its major aim to guard over issues concerning Sámi culture in Sweden.”
The right to vote for the Sámi parliament gives the Sámi electors the right to choose an electorate leadership to the state administration authority, ‘The Sámi parliament’, a so called layman board.


On May 16 the first historic elections to the Sámi parliament are held. 13 parties candidate for 31 seats in the Sámi parliament assembly. 5.309 persons have registered in the Sámi register of voters, 3.800 of which cast their votes. 
When the result is ready, eleven parties get seats in the Sámi parliament, with the Swedish Sámi National Association (Sámiid Riikasearvi) as the greatest party, with seven seats.

August 26, 1993

The Swedish Sámi parliament is ceremoniously inaugurated in Kiruna, the Swedish king and queen present. 
The first decision of the Sámi parliament is a vote of censure on Sámi minister Per Unckel, and the way the government handles hunting and fishing issues. The vote of censure is read to the assembly, right after His Majesty´s inauguration of the Sámi parliament.


The United Nations appoints the year of 1993 to the year of the indigenous peoples. The much debated small game hunting starts in August 25. In Kiruna the next day Sámi persons go on hunger strike in protest. 
In October, the Swedish Sámi National Association files for a legal appeal to the Supreme Administrative court, on the decision about hunting. An examination of the small game hunting is made. Basically it establishes the fact that the expected great numbers of hunters did not come, and that the system of enjoyment functions satisfactory. 
The Sámi parliament who has taken part in the examination together with the agricultural department, hands in their own report, strongly criticizing the examination process. 
In June the government decides on a prolongation of the free small game hunting and fishing for an additional two years. The board of the Sámi parliament sets up an investigation on the legal status of the forest Sámi. Chair-person of the investigation is Hans-Åke Wengberg, who also was the chair-person of the Sámi rights investigation.
The first year of the Sámi parliament´s work shows great split within the Sámi, concerning issues of decision-making and structure in the Sámi parliament. The Sámi parliament, being an elected body and at the same time a state administration authority, has difficulties in finding a model for its work, free from conflicts, where the Sámi political work is kept apart from the authority assignments pertaining to the Sámi parliament by law.
According to its agenda the Sámi parliament has chosen to work following the outline of a local government model, a so called ‘co-government’, with a strong minority representation in the board. This means that the board of the Sámi parliament, the head of the authority, is the Sámi parliament’s political leadership, while the chair-person of the Sámi parliament, appointed by the government, holds chairmanship for the assembly, somewhat resembling the speaker in the Parliament or the chair-person of the local government.
The board of the Sámi parliament sets up an investigation on the hunting and fishing rights of the Sámi. The investigation is to present an analysis of the history of law, and take into consideration concrete strategies for strengthening Sámi rights. The Sámi parliament closed the investigation in 1997 without reaching a final report.The work on evaluating the free small game hunting and fishing starts. The Sámi parliament and the agricultural board can not agree on having a secretary in common.

December 1994

The Swedish Sámi National Association reports Sweden to the European Committee of Human Rights, for violating Sámi government over hunting and fishing rights. The charge is filed on the same day as the United Nation decade of the indigenous peoples is declared in New York.


The question of extended authority for the Sámi parliament in order to strengthen the Sámi rights to self-government is treated by the Parliament’s standing committee on the constitution, spurred by bills from the left wing party and the green party. 
The parliament once again establishes the fact that the Sámi parliament, in spite of its name ‘parliament’, is no body for Sámi self-government.
Sámi minister Margareta Winberg gives a much observed speech at the Swedish Sámi National Association’s general meeting in June, where she admits that the Sámi view-points were under-estimated when the free small game hunting was introduced. The minister expresses her will to meet with the Sámi demands. Winberg at the same time says that the interests of nature conservation are to be stressed more in the evaluation of the small game hunting and fishing in the mountains, by giving the Swedish Agency for Environmental Protection the formal opportunity of taking part in the evaluation. Later in the autumn additional guide-lines are presented clarifying the interests of environmental protection. 
The European Court demands an explanation. Almost every Sámi community in Sweden, 40 out of 42, are complainants in a report on Sweden to the European Committee of Human Rights, handed in in December 1994. In its report the Sámi communities claim:
- that hunting and fishing rights in the areas in question, being a part of the reindeer herding rights, befalls the Sámi communities and its members.
The European Court now demands a so called ‘explanation’ from Sweden’s government. The dead-line for answering is Spring 1996. The complainants, the Sámi communities, will be given the opportunity to comment on the government´s explanation. From all the complaints filed at the European Court only 10 per cent proceed to a demand for an “explanation”. From those 10 per cent statistics show that approximately half of the reports are dealt with by the courts. In November 1996 the European Committee rejects the complaints of the Sámi.
The government decides on appointing an indigenous peoples delegation. Its task is to deal with and evaluate the decisions of the General Assembly, initiate, plan and carry through the various necessary measures as exhibitions, seminars and similar arrangements, following the out-lined purposes of the indigenous peoples decade.
The UN General Assembly in December 1993 decided to declare an international indigenous peoples decade, starting December 10, 1994. The aim is to strengthen the international co-operation in issues concerning indigenous peoples. In 1995 the work focusses on social development and women’s situation, in 1996 on housing conditions and health.
Language committee. The government has ‘summoned’ a committee with the assignment to investigate the question if and in that case in what way, Sweden should join the European Council’s convention on regional and minority languages. The assignment of the committee is to analyse the effects an application of the convention might have for Swedish legislation. Chair-person is MP Carin Lundberg from Skellefteå.
In December 1997 the committee presents its final report, giving suggestions for ratification of the convention.
Small game hunting and fishing. The evaluation of the free small game hunting and fishing with hand-gear above the cultivation border and in the reindeer grazing mountains goes on. The government asks the authorities concerned – the Sámi parliament, the Agricultural Board, the Swedish Agency for Environmental Protection and the regional authorities – to make a thorough evaluation of the first two years with the new system of enjoyment. The assignment is to be presented by April 1996.
The Sámi convention. The northern Scandinavian ministers responsible for Sámi issues, in March 1995 in connection with the meeting of the Nordic Council in Reykjavik, decides to initiate the work to establish a commorn northern Scandinavian ‘Sámi convention’. The work is directed towards trying to find some form of mutual agreement in northern Scandinavian Sámi politics. The Swedish Sámi Parliament is represented by the head of administration Lars Nila Lasko.
The customary rights process goes on. On September 18 the court proceedings are begun in Sveg. The plaintiff consists of more than 600 private land-owners in Härjedalen, claiming that the Sámi do not have customary rights in areas corresponding to a total 20 per cent of the Sámi communities grazing land. The Sámi communities in Härjedalen, the defendant, calls customary right to every property concerned by the case, and presents extensive written and verbal evidence. 


The Sámi communities lose the customary rights process. The district-court in Sveg in its judgment of February 21 establishes the fact that there is no “by agreement following right to graze reindeer on the property concerned by the case”. According to the court evidence is missing for the Sámi communities’ plea of customary rights below the so called ‘tax mountains’.
The judgment is a major set-back for the reindeer herding in Härjedalen, who after the court´s judgments lacks right to reindeer grazing on the main part of the Sámi communities winter grazing land. The Sámi communities have had to pay more than four million SEK for the process, and the costs of the opposite party close to three million SEK. The chair-person of the Sámi parliament board sharply criticized the judgment:
-The court in Sveg has passed their judgment based on a narrow-minded perspective. It looks more like ill-judgment. It shows that we from a Sámi perspective must focus harder on the people’s rights. If we can’t secure the basis of reindeer herding it means a threat to all of the Sámi culture and the Sámi people.
The Sámi communities in Härjedalen and Idre Sámi community appeals the judgment to the Court of Appeal in Sundsvall. Idre Sámi community is involved in an own process before Mora district-court. It is the private land-owners in the Särna and Idre area that sue the Sámi communities, spurred by the judgment in the Härjedalen case.

April 1996

Small game hunting and fishing. The authorities’ evaluation of the new system of enjoyment is handed over to the government. The report strongly criticizes the free hunting. The strongest criticism comes from the Sámi parliament, who hands in a special report, but also the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency agrees with this report. The Sámi parliament in its report demand that systems of enjoyment of small game hunting and fishing cease, and that the Sámi communities get authority over the enjoyments according to the ‘Sámi model’ earlier presented.
According to the Sámi parliament it is necessary that the system of enjoyment for small game hunting and fishing within the Sámi area provides the possibility of sub-letting enjoyments, in order to carry through the Sámi mode. Sámi influence over Sámi resources is a highly valued goal for the development of Sámi micro-societies and thereby also for the development of Sámi trades, language and culture.
Reindeer grazing convention. It goes without saying that Sweden holds a tough position in the negotiations. Recalls from earlier negotiations frighten. The position of Norway this time is more humane compared with the earlier negotiations. Norway is prepared to accept ‘status quo’ and can even consider expanding the possibilities for reindeer herding in Norway, if it can be traded for winter grazing rights for Norwegian reindeer herding in Sweden. The preliminaries to a new border convention, the reindeer grazing convention between Sweden and Norway, to be finished by April 2000, are started in late autumn 1996.


In the second election to the Sámi parliament in Sweden, on May 18, 3.500 Sámi persons of a total 7.000 in the register of voters take part. The votes and the 31 seats are spread on ten parties. After the election the Sámi in Sweden get a new political leadership with the former opposition parties as ‘government constructers’. Chair-person of the Sámi parliament board (daily political leader) is Per Mikael Utsi, representing the party The Reindeer Owner Association, which holds five seats in the Sámi parliament.
A balancing act begins, between the two equally strong blocs, a process filled with conflicts. Even before the Sámi parliament was inaugurated, a politician from the leading bloc declares that he will not support the new political leadership. This means that the political leadership lacks majority in the Sámi parliament council, a fact leading to constant confrontation and accusations from the opposition bloc of the leadership stepping over its authority. 
The opening of the Sámi parliament. When visiting the opening of the Sámi parliament in Kiruna on August 25, the Swedish king and queen are in the centre of attention, because of the problematic issue of the small game hunting. Shortly after having visited the ceremonial inauguration the king and queen set out on small game hunting with the mining company in Kiruna, LKAB, as host. The king and queen try to stop a film team from the Swedish television to document the hunting, taking place in Saarivuoma Sámi community north of Kiruna.
The king and queen´s hunting shows that the former unit of the Sámi against free small game hunting is beginning to whither down. While some Sámi politicians condemn the hunting of the royalty, others feel that free small game hunting in “ordered forms” is acceptable. The pure Sámi approach, from having been a unifying and strong symbolic issue in the Sámi rights struggle, beyond all internal conflicts between political parties, is now starting to deconstruct, dividing into political opinions.

Sept. 11, 1997

The government appoints a special investigation to look into the question of Sweden being able to ratify the ILO convention 169 on indigenous people and tribal people in autonomous countries, and what measures necessary to be taken in order to follow the regulations on Sweden’s behalf.
The investigator, former governor in Jämtland county, Sven Heurgren, is to present his assignment by May 31, 1999.
The same day as the Government appoints the ILO investigation, they decided on guide-lines fo the committee of a new, large-scale ‘Sámi investigation’, investigating the support to reindeer herding and Sámi culture, reindeer herding administration and reindeer husbandry legislation. The assignment is also to consider the possibility of transferring some authority assignments to the Sámi parliament.
According to the guide-lines the new ‘Sámi investigation’ is wide. The issues are many and reach over several pragmatic areas of politics. Suggestions made by the committee shall not overstep the present state grants. No other expenses whatsoever are allowed. The committee shall present its assignment by the end of 1999. Per- Mikael Utsi is the representative of the Sámi parliament in the investigation.


The Härjedalen case. The Sámi communities in Härjedalen and Idre Sámi community in September demand the Court of Appeal try the question of the Sámi communities having the right to plea, or having the right to carry on a law-suit. They plead that the Court of Appeal invalidate the district-courts judgment and dismiss the plea of the land-owners.
The Sámi communities on the other hand claim that the Swedish state should, in the absence of a juristic person, hold the defendant’s plea concerning the challenging of the collective right of the reindeer herding.
The claim of the land-owners can not be tried legally, since the Sámi communities should be represented by the state. Hereby the judgment of the district-court should be declared null and void and the claim of the land-owners be dismissed.
The Sámi communities maintain to hold the right to file claims on compensation for legal costs, pertaining to the case.
The Sámi communities request that the Court of Appeal when trying the claims should consist of at least four judges. They also request to be granted a respite for making their report on the district-court´s submittal concerning the right party, until the Court of Appeal has decided in the above mentioned question. 
The Court of Appeal in Sundsvall is negative to the claim of the Sámi communities, in their judgment dated November 6.
The Sámi communities claimed that they neither own or dispose over the land at issue. If the land-owners want to go further they must sue the state, being the juristic person ruling over the so called ‘collective right to reindeer herding’ belonging to the Sámi.
The Court of Appeal in Sundsvall rejects the claim, saying that there is no hindrance for the legal process. For the Sámi communities in Härjedalen and Idre time is running out. They have no money of their own, and already owe some 10 million SEK. A law-suit in the Court of Appeal costs almost as much, and would risk the entire economy of the Sámi communities as well as their social structure. They appeal to the Supreme Court about the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
Small game hunting and fishing. The chair-person of the Sámi parliament, Per-Mikael Utsi, in the end of November requests the government to hold back on decisions on the free small game hunting and fishing. The Sámi parliament takes on the task to try to reach a mutually benefactory solution to both hunters and Sámi. The government in December grants the request by assigning the Sámi parliament to “in conferring with authorities and organisations prepare suggestions for changing the system of enjoyments of small game hunting and fishing on state land above the cultivation border and in the reindeer mountains”.
The government now gives all parties the chance to discuss the question of the small game hunting together, and to put forward suggestions acceptable to all involved. - The best thing would be to find such solutions, minister of agriculture Annika Åhnberg says in a press-release.
The government at the same time decides to change the third section of the reindeer husbandry regulation, restricting the small game enjoyments to permanent residents in Sweden, and to create a possibility to restrict hunting or fishing if there are negative effects on the environment, to tourism or other interests.
The assignment of the Sámi parliament is to be presented by July 1, 1998.


Towards a minority policy. The minority language committee on January 7 hands over its report to minister of agriculture, Annica Åhnberg, suggesting the treatment of the European Council convention protecting national minorities, and the European Council convention on minority and regional languages. It is the first time suggestions that could form the basis of a Swedish minority policy are put forward. The minority language committee suggests that Sweden should join the general convention and at the same time take a number of measures to establish a joint and general minority policy directed straight towards supporting the efforts of the national minorities to able maintain their own culture and identity.
The historical minority languages that have existed in Sweden or are still widely used in Sweden today, are a part of the minority cultures. Regional or minority languages are protected by another European Council convention, the minority language convention. The committee says that Sweden also should join this convention, and have identified Sámi, Finnish and Meänkieli (Torne valley Finnish), and Roman chib as languages applicable to the minority language convention.
Predator policy. The government on January 29 decides to appoint a special investigation to raise suggestions for a new predator policy. The stance is that the predators in Sweden shall have their natural habitat, in viable populations. All big predators in Sweden; bear, wolf, wolverine and lynx, are increasing in both number and territorial spread. The main issue for the new investigation is to ensure biological diversity and genetic variation.
Sören Ekström, Secretary-General in the Swedish Church Central Board, is appointed investigator. His report is to be presented to the government by July 1, 1999.
Small game hunting and fishing. The Sámi parliament’s suggestion to change the grant of enjoyment system for small game hunting and fishing, presented on July 1, is criticized from everywhere, hunters, anglers, and Sámi. The disagreement concerns the main weakness of the suggestion. The Swedish Hunters Association does not want any restrictions at all and rejects the system totally. The anglers do not think that the Sámi parliament should be given more authority, since they are regarded as representing Sámi interests. The Swedish Sámi National Association, however, wants more Sámi authority and demands far-reaching changes and an unrestricted possibility for the Sámi communities to administrate and supervise the small game hunting.
Sámi influence over Sámi resources is a supreme matter for Sámi policy, for the Sámi parliament as an elected body and for the Sámi communities.
In the new suggestion from the Sami parliament board the design, administration and control over the small game hunting and fishing is governed by the authorities with the regional authorities holding the right to decide. The change suggested means that the regional authorities get the right to pass sub-grants of enjoyment to the members of the Sámi community or co-operations with Sámi community members. Backed up by the regional authorities a possibility is then created to deal with the small game hunting according to the ‘Sámi model’. But this is not enough, the Sámi communities and The Swedish Sámi National Association claim, who think that the proposition of the Sámi parliament does not meet with “a lawful, considerate and trade adjusted order”.
The proposition of the Sámi parliament has once and for all broken up the once united stand of the Sámi. The system of enjoyment for small game hunting and fishing has become an internal matter of conflict for the Sámi parliament, already laden with conflicts, to which is added the pressed tone between hunters and Sámi.
New law-suit between land-owners and Sámi. Some 40 land-owners in the vicinity of Åsarna, Rätan and Nederhögen in July files for a law-suit in the district-court of Östersund. The land-owners claim that Tåssåsen Sámi community, in south-west Jämtland, has no right to winter grazing land on their estate.
Tåssåsen Sámi community in a letter to the government later declares that without access to winter grazing land in this area, and with the present law-suit in Härjedalen, where they lost the right to winter grazing in the district-court, the reindeer herding of the Sámi communities is threatened to the bone. The Sámi communities and its members are also seriously threatened.
-The members demand an answer whether it is the intention of the government to keep reindeer herding as a trade in Jämtland, Härjedalen and Dalarna, or if it is to be discharged. If it is to exist we would like to know in what way the government plans to take actions to secure the opportunity for winter grazing. We want to discuss the possibilities to create a Reindeer Damages Fund, which could compensate private land-owners for unacceptable damage to their forests, due to reindeer herding.
-We also want some advice from the minister of agriculture on how we are going to be to raise the financial means to defend ourselves in a forth-coming law-suit, the result of an incomplete legislation, one that grants us the right to winter grazing outside the year-round land, but does not say where, referring to the court if there’s a dispute.
The members of Tåssåsen Sámi community think that the government has a responsibility towards the Sámi as an indigenous people, and that it is the government´s responsibility to ensure the opportunity of maintaining the Sámi traditional trade, on the land required by the needs of the reindeer.
Land-owners methods spread. The law-suits against the reindeer owners are carried on, after one additional sue has been filed. This time three Sámi communities in Västerbotten are involved. The file was handed in to Umeå district-court by 89 land-owners in Nordmaling, on October 21.
They claim that the Sámi communities do not have any reindeer grazing rights on their properties. The Sámi claim customary rights, which the land-owners want to try in court.
In this sue the land-owners say that reindeer herding should have been maintained in the area for at least 90 years before the Code of Land Laws of 1972. A regular assessment of the reindeer herding is also required to validate customary rights.
Sámi success in real-estate law issue. In December an unexpected judgment from Gällivare district-court arrives, spurring the Sámi rights struggle.
The Vattenfall company (hydro-power company) has applied for the registration of their title to the properties where the hydro-power exploitations in Stora Sjöfallet and Ritsem are situated. Sör-Kaitum Sámi community in their claim say that the Sámi community owns the property in question and no grounds for granting Vattenfall’s application is at hand. The district-court try if Vattenfall could prove the state´s ownership to the properties. They also try if Vattenfall’s ownership of the properties, regarding the Sámi claims, is disputable, and if Vattenfall therefore cannot be granted registration. Instead they might have to plea in court, according to section 19 in the Code of Land Laws, for prior rights to the properties. The district-court in its judgment of December 15 finds that the Sámi community’s plea for prior rights to the property can not be disregarded. Vattenfall’s application was denied, since the legal issue was ‘disputable’. The state is not the self-evident owner to the land and the hydro-power rights in Stora Sjöfallet and Ritsem.
The concept ‘disputable’ in this case resembles sequestration the closest, in which the applicant has to plea at the court to have his right tried. For Vattenfall this means that they need a judgment from court stating their ownership to the property, in order to be able to registrate them. All of this bears some resemblance to the tax mountain case proceedings. Vattenfall has appealed to the Court of Appeal, claiming the issue not ‘disputable’.

January 1999

Free small game hunting and fishing. Minister of agriculture Annica Åhnberg, also responsible for some Sámi issues, visits the Sámi parliament in Kiruna on December 21. During her visit she announces that the government intends to try to unite the hunters and the Sámi with a common proposition. During the first three months of 1999 she will gather representatives for the Sámi and the Hunters Association for a discussion.
Discussions about small game hunting and fishing are held between the government, the Sámi parliament, the hunters´organisations, and the regional authorities. The main organisation of the Sámi, the Swedish Sámi National organisation, sharply criticizes the government for not inviting any representative for the case owners, the Sámi communities. The Swedish Sámi National Association also questions the mandate of the Sámi parliament to represent the Sámi communities in a new round of negotiations with the government. According to the Swedish Sámi National Association it is in the first case a question of law principle and of who has got the strongest right to hunt and fish within the reindeer herding area. In terms of which, a negotiation with the hunters´organisations lack all relevance to the solving of the question.