October News – Jokkmokk Sámi Book Released

Autumn is here and Snowchange releases another major Sámi book, titled It is the Sámi who own this land – Sacred Landscapes and Oral Histories of the Jokkmokk Sámi in Jokkmokk, Sweden (Ajtte Museum) at 19th October 2013, starting 15:00 local time. The book launch is another event in the celebration of the Ája House in Ajtte. We expect several Sámi, NGO, researcher, and media delegates to attend the event. Please take contact for press materials, interviews and copies of the book.

This book consists of authentic voices from the Sámi communities in Jokkmokk, Sweden. Spanning a decade 2003-2013 it combines the analysis of thirty scientific articles and Sámi knowledge. Twenty-two interviews were recorded with reindeer herders, youth and Elders.

Topics covered in the book include:

  • Impacts of hydroelectricity to the Sámi in Northern Sweden
  • Role of industrial forestry in the pastures and reindeer herding in the region
  • Climate change observations and knowledge regarding weather
  • Impact of mining and other industrial resource extraction on the Sámi
  • Sámi rights to lands and waters
  • Bear hunt and reflections on the traditional Sámi religion
  • Border between Norway and Sweden
  • Sámi Sky and Starlore

Chapter “What Has Happened” shares Sámi oral histories of the past. “Present Now” describes contemporary views on events of 2003-2012. “Thoughts for the Future” shares insights for the things to come. The book concludes with a cumulative impacts assessment – analyzing what the different drivers of change, such as climate change and forestry, mean to the Jokkmokk Sámi. This is a timely book on the debates in Sápmi, Sámi land. It concludes the series of Snowchange Sámi Oral History publications began in 2004.

Foreword is written by the President of the Swedish Sámi Parliament, Stefan Mikaelsson. Book features scholarly maps and photographs by Jan Håkan Dahlström, Carl-Johan Utsi, Heikki Willamo and Eero Murtomäki.

Tero Mustonen, PhD, is the President of Snowchange Cooperative, Finland. He works there as a researcher. Mustonen has served in various Arctic positions over a decade, including Traditional Knowledge Coordinator for the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment and Arctic Resilience Report of the Arctic Council.

Eija Syrjämäki, B.Env.Eng. and is finishing her social sciences masters thesis. She is a founding member of Snowchange, co-coordinated the fieldwork and community contacts for this book and project between 2003 and 2013. She was also the primary field investigator between 2003 and 2012 during the oral history work. She has researched northern environment in Arctic Canada, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Northwest Russia and Sámi areas of Finland. She lives in Jyväskylä, Finland.


In other news, a major watershed assessment has received EU LEADER funds in the Kuivasjärvi area in Parkano, Western Finland. Snowchange is prominently involved in this attempt to revitalise heavily-damaged catchment area at the heart of the peat production zone of Pirkanmaa.

On the 8th November 2013 at the Eno library, North Karelia, the posters and book of the Vaara Karjalan kulttuuriperintöhanke – Cultural Heritage of the Karelia will be released. We expect a major event after three years of work and welcome all peoples to this event, to begin at 16.00.

Participation at the Northern Forum Summit in Moscow in mid-October is being planned. Snowchange wishes to highlight the role Indigenous and traditional knowledge plays in northern watersheds during this event. Across the Arctic they are changing due to global change, climate change and human-induced changes. During 2013 and early 2014 our new project, Revitalisation of Watersheds Using Indigenous Knowledge and Sharing Traditional Practices reviews and presents a new methodology building on Indigenous knowledge and practices for restoration and preservation of northern watersheds using three real examples from Northern Forum regions (Lapland, Norrbotten, Sakha-Yakutia), organises a “Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions” to disseminate such cases and provides a report of watershed restoration and revitalisation of cultural fisheries. The three exciting community-based ecological processes from where to draw such materials are:

  1. First and the most extensive case is the Näätämö/Neiden river collaborative management plan with the Skolt Sámi in Finland and the Kvens, a Finnish-speaking minority on the Norwegian side of the watershed. This United Nations and Nordic Council of Ministers -funded initiative began in 2009 and is the most far-reaching attempt in Fennoscandia to revitalize Atlantic salmon fisheries, their spawning locations and Indigenous knowledge. Oral histories, Sámi place names and mapping of their contemporary land use have played a key role widening the range of observations of changes. Several new sites of ecological restoration have been identified. New activities include harvest of predator fish, such as burbot and pike in spawning areas to lessen the stress on smolts, restoration of damaged salmon spawning areas and identification of freshwater mussel populations, a key indicator species, along the Näätämö watershed using collaborative management. A book has been written as a basis of this plan in English. Implementation of this plan continues.
  2. Second case comes from the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia, where the Snowchange Cooperative has worked with the communities of the local Indigenous peoples and the Northern Forum since 2004 to document and assess changes in the Lower Kolyma watershed. The work on this watershed can be seen here.
  3. Thirdly, the experiences with the Sámi knowledge in the heavily damaged Luleå watershed in Sweden and traditional knowledge from the Ponoi watershed in Murmansk, Russia identify observations and remedies using traditional knowledge in watershed restoration. These include i.e. on-going impacts of hydropower production from the Luleå River and the Soviet legacy of pesticides, in the case of Ponoi.
  4. “Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions”, will be held in Sevettijärvi, Finland in the Skolt Sámi homelands in September 2014. It will introduce a vast range of traditional fishing practices, harvest methods, handicrafts and other traditional cultural elements of fishing in a practical way. Included in the programme are different seining and net fishery shows, lectures on ecological and climate change and their impact on northern fish, possibilities to develop subsistence and small-scale professional fisheries in a sustainable manner across the North as well the restoration of watersheds for salmonid fishes and other topics which are relevant for the Northern fishing communities.

If any questions, please take contact!

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