The Archaeology and Anthropology of Landscape: Shaping Your Landscape

By Peter J. Ucko; Robert Layton | Go to book overview

24

The representation of Sámi cultural identity in the cultural landscapes of northern Sweden: the use and misuse of archaeological knowledge

INGA-MARIA MULK AND TIM BAYLISS-SMITH


Introduction

In this chapter we consider the ways in which the culture of the Sámi (or Saami, formerly known as Lapps) is being represented in the landscapes of the interior of northern Sweden, in the province known as Lappland. Our main focus is on the area occupied by the Sámi along the Lule river valley and its lakes and catchment, within what was once the Lule Lappmark administrative region and is today the county of Norrbotten. However, we also use examples from elsewhere in the Sámi region, 'Sámeatnam' or 'Sápmi' as it is coming to be known. Sápmi is defined as the area of present-day Sámi settlement in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland and the adjacent Kola peninsula of Russia. Archaeologists are now convinced that modern Sápmi covers a less extensive area than was previously occupied by the Sámi. It is thought that the distribution of asbestos ware in the first millennium BC indicates the former area of Sámi settlement (Carpelan 1979; Jorgensen and Olsen 1988). However, for present purposes we restrict our attention to the region of acknowledged Sámi self-identity at the present day (Figure 24.1).

The Lule river has two main tributaries, the Stora and Lilla Luleälv, with catchments that extend nearly 300 km inland from their confluence near the town of Jokkmokk. Both rivers have their headwaters in the Scandes mountains along the present-day border with Norway (Figure 24.1). The upper parts of their valleys are in a mountains/foothills zone that is mainly occupied by lakes. Below Jokkmokk the combined Lule river flows a further 150km across forested lowlands, reaching the Gulf of Bothnia at Luleå. The Arctic Circle passes through Jokkmokk, but the area is not as climatically severe as its latitude might suggest, thanks to the effect of maritime air masses from the Atlantic. Nevertheless, the main lakes are frozen for at least six months of the year and there is six to eight months of snow cover. In the mountains, the vegetation is an alpine tundra above about 700 m. Below this is a sub-alpine zone of birch forest, merging into the pine-spruce-birch forests

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