Unpredictable Consequences of Sámi Self-determination: Rethinking the legal protection of Sámi cultural heritage in Norway
Sámi cultural heritage is protected in Norway by the Cultural Heritage Act. A 1978 amendment to this Act provides automatic protection to all Sámi cultural heritage sites and buildings older than 100 years. Strong legal protection has in a very positive and constructive way contributed to Sámi identity and cultural self-determination for more than 30 years. This article discusses the current level of protection and different scenarios for future management of Sámi cultural heritage sites and buildings. Background material includes The Norwegian National Sites and Monuments Record, relevant policy documents, and interviews with Sámi cultural heritage management and three Sámi municipalities. Our results demonstrate that strong legislation for protection of Sámi cultural heritage, and thus in favour of Sámi cultural rights, can contribute to severe restrictions on future planning and development in local communities. The intent to protect Sámi cultural heritage sites, paradoxically, may in future threaten traditional Sámi land use.
Keywords: Sámi, cultural heritage, cultural heritage management, Norwegian Cultural Heritage Act (1978), protected sites, Nordland, Troms, Finnmark.
Citation: Arctic Review on Law and Politics, vol. 3, 1/2012 p. 30–50. ISSN 1891-6252
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