Chapter 1. Sami economy, livelihoods and well-being

This chapter presents a diagnosis of the Sami economy, livelihoods and well-being within the context of the broader northern regional economy in Sweden. It explores Sami community and identity in relation to national legislation; describes the Sami economy; discusses the importance of well-being in understanding Sami community and economic development; and offers recommendations on how to improve data on Sami economic activities, socio-economic outcomes and land use, including the importance of Indigenous data sovereignty.


The Sami are an Indigenous people who have lived for time immemorial in an area that today extends across four countries consisting of the Kola Peninsula in Russia, northern Finland, northern Norway’s coast and inland and the northern half of Sweden. This area is collectively referred to as Sapmi (Samiland).1 The Sami are the only Indigenous people in Sweden and have an estimated population of around 20 000 to 40 000.2 A more precise population count is unknown as Sweden does not collect any statistical information on ethnicity.3 Across the broader Sapmi region, the Sami population is estimated at around 70 000 to 80 000, with the majority residing in Norway.

The Sami are important to the economic development and well-being of northern Sweden. Sami society – culture, traditions, language and way of life – are unique to the north and form an important cultural asset. The Sami economy in northern Sweden is based on such traditional activities as reindeer husbandry, fishing and hunting, duodji (Sami handicrafts) and cultural industries alongside new and emerging opportunities rooted in Sami tradition in such areas as food production and processing, tourism and a range of other industries. Reindeer husbandry is recognised by law as foundational for Sami ventures and culture. These activities are often pursued both sustainably and ecologically – thus demonstrating the potential of sustainable growth in the region.

Economic development is an important part of self-determination; albeit, in the Swedish context, the extent of self-determination as defined in Swedish law as Sami purview over Sami affairs is limited. As this chapter will discuss, Sami businesses face a number of challenges and often lack visibility. Improved conditions and supports could strengthen this economy, bringing benefits for both the Sami and northern Sweden more generally. Over the past 40 years, the Swedish state has made advances in their relationship with the Sami (e.g. by recognising their status as Indigenous people, and establishing the Sami Parliament), and by providing economic and other support to help the Sami build their own institutions to strengthen self-determination at local, national and international levels. However, historical discrimination, dependency on state institutions, lack of understanding amongst Swedish society, a changing Arctic climate, and conflicts and uncertainties about land use negatively impact Sami economic development and well-being.4

This chapter presents a diagnosis of the Sami economy, livelihoods and well-being within the context of the broader northern regional economy in Sweden. It proceeds in four parts. It first describes Sami community and identity in relation to national legislation, which in turn shapes the economic activities of the Sami. Next, the Sami economy is described with a focus on traditional livelihoods. Following this, the chapter discusses the importance of well-being in understanding Sami community and economic development. The chapter ends with a discussion of the importance of having improved data on Sami economic activities, socio-economic outcomes and land use and offers a number of recommendations for how this could be achieved.

Box 1.1. A note on terminology

Please note that the term “Sami people” is used in this report to mean the Sami society as a whole. The term sameby (or samebyar for plural) which translates to Sami village or Sami reindeer herding community is used throughout this report to describe the economic and administrative association created to organise reindeer husbandry within its geographic area. The Swedish terminology is preferred here since the English translation inaccurately connotes that members of the sameby live in proximity to one another. The Northern Sami word for handicrafts – duodji – is used throughout.

Sami communities and identity in Sweden

The Sami are recognised in Swedish law as both a national minority and as an Indigenous people as well as within the framework of common legislation for all Swedish citizens

Before proceeding to a discussion of the Sami economy, livelihoods and well-being, it is important to first consider who the Sami are and how their identity and economic activities are shaped by national laws. While the Sami are a singular Indigenous group, their identity is diverse and is complicated by the fact that the treatment of the Sami in national law across the four countries of Sapmi differs. The manner in which Sami identity and rights are recognised in law has wide-ranging implications for such matters as self-determination, land rights, public support for Sami education, languages and cultural programming. These rights also matter in terms of the ways in which they shape and reproduce traditional Indigenous livelihoods such as reindeer husbandry – a point that will be returned to.

The Swedish Parliament recognised the Sami as an Indigenous people in 1977. In 1999, the Swedish Parliament also recognised the Sami as one of Sweden’s five national minorities, as covered by the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM).5 Therefore, within Swedish law, Sami are treated both as a national minority and as an Indigenous people. In terms of international law, Sweden has not as yet ratified the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 15 convention number 169 (1989) concerning Indigenous and tribal peoples which sets self-identification as the fundamental criterion for determining indigeneity and associated rights to self-determination, land and natural resources for Indigenous peoples.6 In 2011, the Swedish Constitution (the instrument of government) was amended to give explicit recognition to the Sami as an Indigenous people stipulating that the opportunities for the Sami people to preserve and develop a cultural and social life of their own shall be promoted. Sweden also voted in support of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples (but with a note of explanation);7 supported the 2014 Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and; has supported a number of other United Nations resolutions and initiatives concerning the rights of Indigenous peoples. In 2005 an expert group representing the governments of Finland, Norway and Sweden, and the respective Sami Parliaments of these countries agreed to develop a Nordic Saami Convention which would outline joint Nordic approaches to safeguard and strengthen Sami rights to preserve and develop their language, culture, livelihoods and community life with the least possible hindrance of national borders. This convention has yet to be ratified by all countries and is not yet in force.8

Indigenous rights are linked to reindeer husbandry, while national minority rights relate to language and culture

In terms of national minority rights, the state has an obligation to promote the ability of Sami and other national minorities to maintain and develop their culture and language in Sweden.9 However, when it comes to the expression of Sami rights as an Indigenous people, a major distinction is made between those Sami with membership in samebyar and those without (see note on terminology, Box 1.1). Samebyar are not villages in the sense of being built-up communities; rather, they are an economic and administrative association (co-operative enterprise) created to organise the reindeer husbandry within its geographic area and its members retain certain hunting and fishing rights (but not control over fishing and hunting).10

Figure 1.1. Area of the

Source: Samer (2018[1]), Map of Samebyar, (accessed on 23 November 2018).

There are 51 samebyar in Sweden covering approximately one-third of the surface area of the country.11 These constitute areas/lands where the traditional trade of reindeer husbandry is permitted and carried out (reindeer husbandry area/renskötselområde). However, areas of state-owned land are disputed by, for example, the Sami Council (United Nations Economic and Social Council, 1997[2]).12 The Royal Decree of 1683 has often been used to verify the state’s claim that the land in the north was the property of the state of Sweden.13 These matters a source of ongoing dispute and are currently being raised by a court case brought forward by the sameby of Girjas against the Swedish state over its right to determine hunting and fishing in its territory. In January 2018 the Swedish Court of Appeal ruled that sameby of Girjas now has “better right” to determine hunting and fishing in its territory, but not the “exclusive right” to manage hunting and fishing permissions in the Girjas sameby independently of the state. This case is being appealed to the Supreme Court.

Reindeer husbandry has great cultural and economic significance for the Sami community and has been declared a matter of Swedish national interest (in the environmental code), emphasising the possibility of preserving reindeer grazing rights on private and state-owned land, according to law. According to Sweden’s Reindeer Husbandry Act (1971:437), the right to conduct reindeer husbandry and its related trades is based on prescription from time immemorial and belongs exclusively to the Sami people (as in Norway).14 However, only Sami who are members of a sameby are, according to the act, allowed to exercise this right. As such, Sweden has largely interpreted Indigenous rights as based on one aspect of traditional livelihoods. The sameby decide for themselves who can be a member.

The majority of the Sami are not members of a sameby and as such, are legally prevented to practice reindeer husbandry and do not have hunting and fishing rights on the sameby land. In other words, they are on equal footing with other Swedish citizens by law. The special treatment of reindeer herders descends from the first Reindeer Grazing Act in 1886 and has caused great opposition and division among the Sami.15 If one has not inherited a right to reindeer husbandry within a same by, it is very difficult to become a member of one due to the shortage of reindeer grazing lands and hence a hesitancy of sameby members to open up activities to more members; it is up to the sameby to accept new members. On the other hand, this can also have contributed to the fact that it still is possible to make a living of reindeer herding and there are those who work full-time as reindeer herders. The 1971 Reindeer Husbandry Act implemented “a herding fee and a voting system that favoured the larger herders; this eventually drove out the smaller herders and caused them, and subsequently their children, to lose the land and water rights associated with sameby membership” (Larsen et al., 2017[3]). In practice, membership to sameby is passed down to family members (Pontén, 2015, p. 46[4]). Further, there are state-mandated thresholds on herd size in a given area which limit the expansion of these activities. The thresholds are set with consideration to the long-term sustainability of the grazing lands. In sum, the rights to reindeer husbandry, hunting and fishing structure community identity and economic behaviour alike.

With respect to reindeer husbandry, the application of these rights fundamentally requires access to land and has led to growing land use conflicts between, for instance, reindeer herders and mining and energy developments, the forestry industry, private landowners in areas of reindeer winter grazing and between those practicing small-game hunting on crown land above the cultivation line. For example, the clearcutting of large areas of forests has been shown to reduce tree lichen for reindeer grazing (Sandström et al., 2016[5]). Research by Hahn (2000[6]) finds that Sami rights have eroded since the time of the first Reindeer Grazing Act in 1886 when the Swedish state had a clear position on conflicts (and associated rights) that was relatively favourable to the Sami. It is assessed that this legal clarity has since been lost as competing land uses in these territories have increased – particularly in the case of developments that are considered a matter of national interest, such as forestry, energy infrastructure and mining.

Box 1.2. Sameby membership in Sweden

Membership in sameby is regulated in Sections 11 and 12 of the Reindeer Husbandry Act. The act (Section 9) states that a sameby is not allowed to conduct other economic activity than reindeer husbandry. Further, according to the act (Section 11), sameby membership can be composed of:

  • Sami who participate in the reindeer husbandry within the grazing areas of the sameby.

  • Sami who have participated in reindeer husbandry and within the grazing lands of the sameby and who have held this as a continuous occupation and who have not transferred to another main occupation.

  • A widower or child of a sameby member (as defined above) or widow or child of a deceased member.

Further, Section 12 of the act notes that a sameby can accept as member other Sami (beyond those referred to in Section 11 above) if he/she intend to conduct reindeer husbandry with their own reindeer within the grazing area of the sameby. The Sami Parliament can allow membership, if the applicant is refused membership, in special circumstances.

Source: Reindeer Husbandry Act.

The Sami Parliament Act in Sweden has its own definition of who is Sami

The Sami Parliament in Sweden is both an elected political body and a government agency that carries out mandated administrative tasks. The Sami Parliament Act identifies a Sami person as one who fulfils the subjective and one of the three objective criteria for the purposes of identifying who can be registered on the electoral roll and is thus is eligible to vote in the Sami Parliament elections. By this act, Sami refers to a person who considers him/herself to be Sami (subjective) and ensures that he or she has or have had the Sami language spoken at home, or ensures that any of his or her parents or grandparents have or have had the Sami language spoken at home, or has a parent who is or has been listed on the electoral roll of the Sami Parliament. The main varieties of the Sami language are North Sami, Eastern Sami, Central (Lule) Sami and Southern Sami, encompassing nine dialects.16 An estimated 6 000 Sami in Sweden speak North Sami, 800 Sami in Sweden and Norway speak Lule Sami and 700 in Sweden and Norway speak South Sami (Sametinget, 2018[7]). All of the varieties of the Sami language are recognised by Swedish law and thus have the same level of protection despite the number of users.

The Sami economy and livelihoods in the context of northern Sweden

The Sami live throughout Sweden and participate in a wide range of economic activities but are not statistically identifiable and hence, their economic contributions are less visible. There is no official statistical data on the range of the Sami businesses sector and trades, nor data about Sami companies in Sweden. This lack of data makes it challenging to present a comprehensive picture of livelihoods and well-being and the nature of change over time. Far more is known about those Sami who participate in what are considered traditional livelihoods and who live in the reindeer husbandry area situated in the Swedish parts of Sapmi, foremost the regions of Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Jämtland and the northernmost part of the region of Dalarna, because these activities are captured by reindeer industry codes in official statistics (as opposed to ethnic identification).17 However, it has been estimated that less than 20% of the Sami population is connected to reindeer herding (Axelsson and Sköld, 2006[8]).

Given data limitations, this section focuses on just a subset of the Sami economy in northern Sweden – traditional activities that are more visible due to Sami business/trade associations, industry classifications/sameby membership or participation in the business survey conducted by the Sami Parliament. It proceeds by describing the broader regional economy in northern Sweden and, following this, the Sami business sector.

The regional economies of northern Sweden

There are three main features which shape the regional economies of Northern Sweden – abundant natural resources, remoteness (low population density and large geographies) and an arctic climate. The northern counties of Jämtland-Härjedalen, Västerbotten and Norrbotten together account for half the Swedish land mass. They are sparsely populated, and, with the exception of Västerbotten, have seen a net population loss over the past several decades.18 While northern Sweden is remote with low population density and large land areas, it is also very centralised – most of the population is concentrated in larger cities along the coast with some smaller cities inland. The population living outside these settlements is very low (and is in many areas also concentrated in smaller towns. As the distances between settlements are long, commuting is not always an option. This means that each city, especially in the inland area of north Sweden, tends to form a labour market of its own.

The average age of the population in the three counties is higher than the national average, as is the dependency ratio (the percentage of the population ages 65 and over relative to those ages 15-64), particularly in the cases of Jämtland and Västerbotten. Population projections to 2050 indicate that both Jämtland and Norrbotten are anticipated to continue to lose population (by -4.8% and -7.2% respectively between 2015 and 2050) while Västerbotten will continue to see an increase (of 3.2%) (Eurostat, 2016[9]). These population dynamics have a number of implications for the regions’ respective development. An ageing population together with outmigration – particularly in rural areas – will make it more challenging for these places to retain and deliver public services such as healthcare and education. At the same time, the size of the working age population is declining and leading to labour market shortages in some areas.

Table 1.1. Population and demography in northern Sweden, by county


Population, 2017

Population change,


Average age of population, 2017

Dependency ratio, % 65 over pop. 15-64

Population density per km², 2017

Land area km²,


Percentage of Swedish land mass

Jämtland- Härjedalen

129 806





48 935.4



268 465





54 664.6



251 295





97 238.8



10 120 242





407 310.6


x : not applicable

Source: Statistics Sweden (2018[10])Population Statistics, Statistical Database, (accessed on 06 March 2018).

Northern Sweden industrialised rapidly post WWII based on forestry, energy and mineral exploitation. Today the economies of Jämtland- Härjedalen, Västerbotten and Norrbotten remain dominated by these industries and also have a large share of public sector employment (Table 1.2). The three counties were negatively impacted by the 2008 economic recession and in general, have cyclical economies due to the nature of their industries which are characterised by peak periods of investment, particularly for large energy and mining projects, followed by declines in both output and employment. Between 2000 and 2016, the average annual gross domestic product (GDP) in each of the three regions was below that of the national average (Table 1.3). In Norrbotten County , both the goods and services sectors of the economy grew at the same rate over this period, while in Jämtland- Härjedalen, the services sector has seen the fastest growth, outstripping other sectors. Västerbotten has seen the highest average annual rate of GDP growth in goods production between 2000-16, but its services sector has also been strong, with a higher rate of growth than that of the other two counties over this period.

In contrast to historical trends (see Figure 1.2), the rate of employment in both Jämtland and Västerbotten stood above that of Sweden as a whole in 2017 (at 68.6% and 68.7% respectively versus 67.8% for Sweden), while in Norrbotten it was lower (at 64.9% in 2017) (OECD, 2018[11]). In 2017, the unemployment rate was lower than the national average in all three counties.19

Table 1.2. Percentage of employment out of total by industry, 2016


Jämtland- Härjedalen




A - Companies in agriculture, forestry and fishing





B+C - Mining, quarrying, manufacturing





D+E - Energy and environmental companies





F - Construction industry





G - Trade





H - Transport and storage companies





I - Hotels and restaurants





J - Information and communication companies





K - Financial institutions and insurance companies





L - Real estate companies





M+N - Professional, scientific and technical companies; administrative and support service companies





O - Public authorities and national defence





P - Educational establishments





Q - Human health and social work establishments





R+S+T+U - Establishments for arts, entertainment and recreation; other service companies etc.





00 - Unknown activity





Source: Statistics Sweden (2016[12]), Gainfully Employed 16+ Years by Region of Work (RAMS) by Industrial Classification NACE Rev. 2 and Year

Table 1.3. GDP, Average annual growth rate, 2000-16


Sweden (%)

Jämtland- Härjedalen (%)

Västerbotten (%)

Norrbotten (%)

A01-F43 producers of goods





G45-T98 producers of services










Government and NPISH





Total economy





NPISH: Households and non-profit institutions serving households.

Source: Statistics Sweden (2018[13]), Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP, ESA2010), Current Prices, Million SEK by Region, Industrial Classification NACE Rev. 2 and Year

Figure 1.2. Employment rate by county, 2005-17

Source: Statistics Sweden (2018[14]), Labour Market Statistics,

Previous work by the OECD on Northern Sparsely Populated Areas (2017[15]) has noted the importance of identifying areas of absolute advantage – i.e. locational assets which enable productivity and product differentiation and which are unique to that region – in order to overcome such challenges as a lack of agglomeration benefits and greater distance to markets common to these northern economies. In northern Sweden, these absolute advantages include minerals and energy, forestry, and a growing tourism industry and are connected to immobile assets such as resource endowments, coastal topography or national parks. They also include the collective assets of the Sami (financial, technological, human, social and cultural), which are unique to that part of the world – a point that will be returned to. The absolute advantages of the NSPA region are largely natural resources-based, which places conflicting demands on how land used. The need for effective governance frameworks to manage this important asset is discussed in Chapter 3.

Table 1.4. Absolute advantages: Västerbotten, Norrbotten and Jämtland Counties


Absolute advantages

Jämtland County

Attractive landscapes (mountains, lakes, rivers and wilderness areas), proximity to the city of Trondheim in Norway, a history and tradition of tourism-related activity, and food producers which are integrated with the tourism industry.

Västerbotten County

Mineral endowments and forestry resources, a history and tradition of manufacturing and services linked to these natural resource-based industries, its attractive landscapes and proximity to Norrbotten, and the research and innovation infrastructure based around Umeå University.

Norrbotten County

Mineral endowments and forestry resources, attractive landscapes (mountains, lakes and rivers, wilderness areas), industry research networks embedded within the Luleå University of Technology, and proximity to Norway and Finland.

Note: Analysis based on NSPA case studies.

Source: OECD (2017[15])OECD Territorial Reviews: Northern Sparsely Populated Areas, p. 193.

The Sami business sector

The Sami business sector today consists of a multitude of activities and trades that share the basis of the close relationship between traditional industries, the environment and culture and that are generally characterised by small-scale and local production. This sector can be categorised according to four groups:

  1. 1. Reindeer husbandry companies with the supplementary hunting and fishing activities.

  2. 2. Sami companies that have traditional culture as a base such a Sami duodji (handicrafts), tourism industry, Sami food production/craft.

  3. 3. Sami companies within the cultural sector based on traditional trades such as design, art, music/joik, theatre, literature, photography, film, etc.

  4. 4. Other companies owned by Sami but not directly linked to the Sami culture but still important from a rural perspective, for development and Sami livelihoods.

These economic activities tend to combine elements that are important to well-being and lifestyle and thus support cultural reproduction. Many Sami economic activities today originate from traditional ways of living, interactions with nature, cultural expressions, customs and traditional knowledge and it is therefore difficult to separate non-commercial traditional/customary activities from commercial ones (Sametinget, 2018[7]). While Sami livelihoods have traditionally been based on such activities as reindeer husbandry, hunting, fishing and duodji, they have evolved to include such activities as small-scale farming, food production, tourism, interpretation services, music and media production – all of which present growth opportunities. It bears noting that although there is a close relationship between traditional industries, environment and culture, there are not well-established connections between the different categorised groups, such as between the tourism industry, reindeer husbandry and Sami culture.

Economic development from the perspective of Sami society is based on a symbiotic relationship with nature and the reproduction of Sami language and cultural traditions (Box 1.3). There are commercially viable activities that meet these goals such as food production, duodji, artistic and cultural expression, and tourism. Potential exists to grow these businesses within a framework that is self-determined by Sami society. From a conventional standpoint, the Sami are important economic actors because of their use of land, and possibilities to support diversification in rural areas through unique tradeable products and services. However, this potential and economic role is not well understood amongst decision-makers. Moreover, reindeer husbandry activities, for which the Sami are very visible in northern Sweden, often set herders interests against that of large industries with intensive land usage – issues that will be discussed in depth in Chapters 2 and 3.

The informal economy is important among the Sami, as are family ties. The family itself is understood as much larger construction as in modern western societies in general; this is particularly the case among reindeer-herding Sami. This informality makes it difficult to measure the economic importance of Sami economies as it is not entirely a monetary economy – e.g. local food (reindeer meat, hunted meat, fish, berries) is distributed informally for own consumption and to share with friends and relatives. Subsistence hunting and fishing for personal consumption are common alongside small-scale farming for own use and berry picking. The number of persons involved in these activities is difficult to estimate, but activities are generally considered an important part of life either through personal involvement or through family and neighbour relations. Furthermore, informal access to traditional products occurs through sharing which is seen as an important social and cultural activity.

Box 1.3. A Sami view of economic development

The Sami economy, based on traditional livelihoods such as reindeer husbandry, hunting and fishing, is dependent on the shared access to land and water. The Sami, therefore, carry out our activities in a way that respects nature and uses lands, natural recourses and biodiversity in a sustainable manner. The Sami view on nature as an animated, living being stands in strong contrast to the Western view of nature. This view of nature has characterised Sami values, customs, social structures and trades and is reflected in the Sami language. The protection of nature is therefore linked to the preservation of Sami culture. Therefore, the concept of economic development and growth from the Sami perspective is very different from that of mainstream Swedish society. Principles of sustainability and cultural reproduction are foremost in Sami considerations.

An emphasis on cultural preservation does not preclude adaption to innovations and new preconditions. Preserving is interpreted as being able to carry out traditional livelihoods and to maintain Sami elements and traditions in a modern society.

Sami traditional knowledge, árbediehtu, is guiding for the development of Sami trades. It is a knowledge that builds on a holistic view and interaction between man and nature in contrast to market-dominated views and production systems. The utilisation of natural resources should be adapted to a flexible balance between what nature can provide and what it can endure without leading to soil degradation or negative impact on climate and ecosystems.

The Sami believe balanced business development occurs through small-scale, ecologically and socially sustainable solutions, local management of natural resources, consideration of biodiversity and responsible consumption. Furthermore, that sustainable economic growth takes place with climate-smart technology, efficient natural resources and environmentally friendly resource consumption.

Source: Sametinget (2018[7]), 2018 Questionnaire.

Reindeer husbandry, hunting and fishing

The reindeer industry is characterised by the small-scale, ecological production of high-quality reindeer meat in accordance with natural conditions and seasonal changes. Growing consumer demand for sustainably produced and ecological food products has increased demand for reindeer meat and the average price per kilogram is presently at a historical high (Figure 1.3). A 2014 study estimates the value of the reindeer industry in Finland and Sweden (all aspects including reindeer meat, fur and other by-products like horn) as having an employment impact of 15 000 and a total turnover of about EUR 1.3 billion (Paliskuntain yhdistys, 2018[16]). Sweden accounts for about one-third of this total (Paliskuntain yhdistys, 2018[16]). According to data collected by the Sami Parliament, there are 3 900 reindeer owners, out of which 72% have registered companies; approximately 59% of these companies state reindeer husbandry as their main economic activity (Sametinget, 2018[7]).20

Figure 1.3. Price of reindeer meat per kg, SEK, Sweden

Source: Sametinget, (2018[17]), Renslakten i Kronor, (accessed on 19 March 2018).

By law, reindeer husbandry must be conducted in a way that maintains biodiversity and that ensures that the long-term grazing capacity of the natural pasturelands (i.e. by setting thresholds).21 Reindeer generally migrate from the summer’s high mountains to the winter’s forests – covering a wide expanse. Sweden’s reindeer herding area covers 150 000 km2, equal to around a third of the Swedish land base.22 Severe disturbances at certain times and places may lead to over or under-utilisation of grazing resources, which in turn has consequences for other parts of the grazing cycle. The natural behaviour and needs of the reindeer determine the manner in which reindeer husbandry is conducted. The practice of reindeer husbandry inherently requires flexibility in relation to environmental and weather variations. The industry can be very busy at some times of the year, requiring time away from home in remote locations with limited accessibility (helicopters, motorcycles and snowmobiles are nowadays commonly used). As such, the practice of reindeer husbandry in conjunction with other economic activities demands flexibility and can limit the types of secondary activities that can be undertaken. The rights that are defined in the Reindeer Husbandry Act place limits on the ability to earn money in traditional land areas for Sami in the reindeer husbandry trade. Moreover, as defined by the act, sameby are prohibited from undertaking any economic activity other than reindeer husbandry which limits the ability of samebyar to act as a vehicle to scale up other business initiatives; this does not, however, preclude sameby members working in reindeer husbandry from having their own companies and there are no restrictions on such a company’s activities.23 Overall, the fact that many Sami businesses in the reindeer husbandry industry are relatively small is not just a matter of preference, but also a fact of the ecological limits and could also be a product of the rules regarding the types of economic activities that can be taken on alongside reindeer husbandry.

Reindeer husbandry is under a great deal of stress in northern Sweden. The right to herd reindeer is based on usufructuary rights and is carried out in conjunction with other land users which can lead to land use conflicts. Large infrastructure projects, mining activities, energy installations and forestry activities can negatively impact access to grazing land and the reindeer’s main food – ground and tree lichen. For example, there has been a significant decline (71%) in the area of lichen-abundant forests over the past 60 years in Sweden (Sandström et al., 2016[5]). Around 2 500 reindeer died in traffic collisions in 2017 in the four northernmost countries (Sverige Radio, 2018[18]). As will be discussed in Chapter 3, the long-term sustainability of the reindeer herding industry requires improvements in frameworks and practices to manage competing land uses. While herding strategies (i.e. use of different grazing areas and grazing resources) and husbandry strategies can be employed to manage climate change impacts, research from Sweden has indicated that competing land-uses and a lack of instruments and difficulties in exerting influence in governing interactions have more of a detrimental impact on Sami reindeer herding adaptability (Tyler et al., 2007[19]; Löf, 2014[20]).

Unlike reindeer husbandry, hunting and fishing activities are rarely a main source of livelihoods and have recreational values. Sameby members have the right to fish in certain lakes for their own use, and for the commercial market, but not for tourism purposes.24 Out of the 3 700 companies registered in the Sami Parliament business register, only two have stated hunting as their main activity while eight have stated fishing as their main activity (Sametinget, 2018[7]). Commercial fishing was the most extensive in the 1970s when about 85% of the total number of fishermen in Sweden’s five northernmost municipalities consisted of Sami fishing in the upper Lule River water system (Sametinget, 2018[7]). Household fishery for daily needs belongs in many areas to everyday life for both reindeer-herding Sami and Sami-farmers, but also for non-Sami people. This is a combination of own subsistence economy and exchange economy between family and friends.

Hunting (mainly moose hunting) is an important activity among samebyar members and represents a considerable share of members total income. Most of the moose meat on the Swedish market is produced by samebyar members. For example, in Luokta Mavas sameby, members are licensed to harvest 50 adult moose and 45 moose calves, with an estimated value of SEK 845 000.25

Tourism, duodji and food production

There is a growing market for tourism in northern Sweden and the tourism industry has ambitious goals to achieve 100% growth in the sector by 2020 (Invest in Norrbotten, 2018[21]). Visitor nights have grown strongly in Sweden over the past decade, and the growth for the northern counties is in line with the national average (Figure 1.4). Tourism-related activities are important to the labour markets of the northern counties. In 2016, accommodation, and arts, entertainment and recreation services employed 9.3% of the labour force in Jämtland-Härjedalen, 7.2% in Norrbotten and 7% in Västerbotten. Västerbotten has seen the fastest growth in this sector in recent years, with particularly strong growth in domestic tourism.26 While the tourism sector presents an opportunity, it does face some challenges in that the season tends to be short and the distances between attractions are large in northern Sweden. There are only a few areas of northern Sweden where the tourism sector has led to a substantial restructuring of the regional economy – most notably, large ski resorts (Almstedt, Lundmark and Pettersson, 2016[22]).

Figure 1.4. Number of visitor nights, Sweden and northern counties, 2008-17
Growth index (2008 = 100)

Source: Statistics Sweden (2017[23]), Statistics Sweden, Nights Spent. All hotels, Holiday Villages, Hostels, Camping Sites, Commercially-Arranged Private Cottages and Apartments by Region/County - Year 2008-2017.

There are an estimated 40 individual Sami entrepreneurs active within tourism, most of which have been in business for less than ten years (Sametinget, 2018[7]). Most of these entrepreneurs are women and around 50% run businesses combined with reindeer husbandry, or other Sami trades like duodji (Leu and Müller, 2016[24]). Organised Sami tourism is thus a relatively new Sami trade. Businesses in this area have evolved from a focus on guided tours in the mountains and hunting towards tourist activities tied with cultural learning about Sami traditions and way of life. Approximately a quarter of Sami tourist companies focus on conference events where the opportunity to hunt and fish are offered (Sametinget, 2018[7]). The vast majority of these companies are small-scale, with only a few employing more than five seasonal workers. In addition to tourist entrepreneurial activities, there is also a range of tourist experiences available at museums and retail centres for Sami duodji.

Tourism brings mixed benefits for Sami communities and there are debates about how the Sami should engage with these activities. The Sami are frequently used in tourism promotion and marketing in northern Europe and they thus represent an asset for the growing tourism industry. This could bring benefits by increasing awareness of Sami culture and traditions, but at the same time, there is a risk that the Sami are portrayed as an exotic “other”. Indeed, their representation in tourism brochures in northern Sweden has generally depicted them within the context of a reindeer husbandry nomadic lifestyle in a manner that is not always culturally sensitive or reflective of present circumstances – the modern world of the Sami is seldom represented (Müller and Pettersson, 2001[25]). Sweden’s Equality Ombudsmen notes that the definition of the Sami as nomadic reindeer herders in law has reinforced such perceptions and is founded in a conception of cultural inferiority stemming from a time when policies were formed about the Sami, not with them (Swedish Equality Ombudsman, 2008, p. 28[26]). There are also ongoing discussions, mostly in Finland and Norway, about who can wear a gákti (Sami national costume) in tourism activities. For example, whether only Sami should wear a gákti or whether others can also wear them and also whether persons in tourism activities/pictures are wearing real gáktis or whether “made-in-china” “tourist” costumes used.

A growing nature-based tourism sector with activities such as hunting, fishing, skiing, snowmobiling and dog‐sledding, has the potential to create new sources of income and future employment opportunities for the Sami. Despite this, very few Swedish Sami choose to make a living within tourism and, for those who do, it is often alongside reindeer husbandry – though the combination of these two livelihoods is not without difficulty due to the cyclical nature of herding which requires time away from home. Some of the main constraints preventing Sami from getting more involved in tourism development include cultural norms and legal obstacles for tourism development; a large geographical area and dispersed attractions; a lack of business traditions within the Sami communities themselves and; expensive and exclusive touristic offerings, which limit the size of the market (Müller and Pettersson, 2001[25]; Müller and Huuva, 2009[27]). Moreover, nature-based tourism can disrupt reindeer herding and this has led to conflicts between both non-Sami and Sami tourist operators and reindeer herding Sami (Müller and Pettersson, 2001[25]). There is no general permit or licence for tourist operators in protected areas, but there are laws and regulations within the Swedish environmental code that must be followed within the purview of such activities (Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, 2018[28]).

The growth of the tourism industry in Northern Sweden is opening up the potential of duodji and food production which have long been an important part of Sami culture. There is a growing demand for high quality and ecological food products worldwide for which Sami food products are well suited. High-end restaurants in northern Sweden such as Fäviken in Jämtland, have raised the profile of northern cuisine based on local ingredients including traditional Sami fare such as salted meats and fish. Groups such as Slow Food Sapmi – an organisation that includes the Sami regions of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia – and Slow Food Sweden, represent Sami food entrepreneurs and Sami people interested in cuisine and the sustainable use of natural resources. There is potential to grow this sector further, which is quite limited at the moment. For example, out of the 3 700 companies registered in the Sami Parliament business register, less than 2% (65 companies) have stated food production as their main activity. There are very few Sami owned meat processing firms – therefore, the Sami engaged in reindeer husbandry are rarely capturing the value added from the processing of meat. The presence of large established meat processing businesses in northern Sweden present barriers to the expansion of the Sami meat processing market. The Sami meat processing market is also heavily dependent on national interpretation of EU legislation – large established meat processing “factories” are “obligatory” to sell the meat. This change from “killing at place” to the transport of living animals to meat processing plants due to changes in EU regulations related to food health and safety has been one of largest changes in reindeer herding during the last decades.

Duodji have a strong symbolic value for the Sami identity and are important for cultural reproduction. The commodification of duodji is an issue of longstanding debate; it is often thought of as a form of cultural expression as opposed to a developable trade. The vast majority of local arts and crafts, including duodji, are sold to tourists (Dlaske, 2014[29]). The lack of available statistics on turnover, business structure, market analyses, etc. makes it difficult to demonstrate the needs and competitiveness of duodji. Out of the 3 700 companies registered in the Sami Parliament business register, just 2% (78 companies) have stated duodji as their main activity (Sametinget, 2018[7]).

One of the greatest barriers to the expansion of this industry is the proliferation of products that culturally appropriate duodji in style and substance, but that are in fact mass produced, largely for the tourist market. These products undercut the value of authentic duodji. This is an issue that is common to many Indigenous peoples and there is growing recognition of the need to protect the cultural and intellectual property of Indigenous design and techniques. Doing so can help Indigenous peoples to build their craft into a viable market based on sustainable principles and traditional knowledge. To protect genuine Sami duodji and guarantee original Sami design, a special seal has been introduced for which only licensed Sami artists are permitted to mark their products and distinguish them from imitations. While this helps direct consumers to authentic products, it does not address the appropriation of Sami designs more generally. Litigation against the appropriation of Sami designs has been pursued in some cases; the time and expense associated with such litigation lead to its infrequent use.

Cultural trades

Sami culture and traditions are a unique asset to northern Sweden and Sapmi more generally which extends to the cultural industries. This sector includes photo, film, performing arts, literature, music/joik, multimedia, fine art and museum activities. Relatively few Sami businesses note this as a main activity. Out of the 3 700 companies registered in the Sami Parliament business register, 2.7% (100 companies) have culture as their main activity. Therefore, this does not appear to be a large sector at the moment; though, the limitation of this data needs to be considered.

Support for the cultural industries has shown to have wide-ranging benefits on such factors as schooling, health, economic participation and leadership and is increasingly recognised as an essential element of well-being.27 Culture has, for example, been recognised as a social determinant of health in countries such as Canada and has been included within the framework of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The prospects for the commercialisation for this sector differ and may require either seed capital or grants in order to thrive. Government policies hence play an important role in supporting and encouraging the growth of this sector. Moreover, regional and municipal governments and instrumental in developing and supporting the cultural infrastructure – e.g. workshop space, museums, theatres, performance spaces and community spaces – that helps this industry thrive (Lindqvist, 2015[30]).

Other rural activities

Within the rural economy, Sami participate in a range of sectors and commercial activities outside the traditional trades and culture as both business owners and employees in such industries as mining and forestry. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to gauge the scope and scale of these activities due to a lack of statistical data. In terms of Sami-owned enterprises, these activities involve small-scale industry, construction, transport, retail and private service companies and can generally be characterised as small businesses with few employees, low competition, limited markets and low profitability (Sametinget, 2018[7]). For example, small-scale farming is practised by around 9% of companies registered in the Sami Parliament business register (318 out of 3 700). In the three northernmost counties, there are a large number of so-called small-scale farms that have a very varied background both in terms of origin and development. Farming often involves a combination of small-scale farms with animal husbandry, hunting, fishing and small-scale tourism. In general, the share of agriculture in northern Sweden has declined in recent decades and this is not a growing sector.

Forestry is a large industry in northern Sweden and is conducted in accordance with forestry legislation that applies to Sami and non-Sami alike. Reindeer herding Sami have no tradition of commercial forestry but have used forest resources and remain dependant on them for building and handicraft materials, firewood, and to provide shelter and protection for reindeer against wind and rapid temperature changes.28

Box 1.4. Comparison of trades among Sami and non-Sami

There are two surveys from the localities of Soppero (Kiruna Municipality, Norrbotten County) and Funäsdalen (Härjedalen Municipality, Jämtland County) which provide information on Sami business activities in comparison to non-Sami activities in these areas. In Soppero, trades linked to reindeer husbandry, such as meat production and processing and tourism are more often practised by Sami than non-Sami people. However, it also appears that the Sami businesses account for 80% of the total economic activity, indicating that Sami activities are very important in this rural, scarcely populated area. In Funäsdalen, only 4% of the total economic activity is carried out by Sami businesses; this due to the large extent of forestry and tourism businesses in the area.

Table 1.5. Comparison of trades among Sami and non-Sami





Sami (%)

Non-Sami (%)

Sami (%)

Non-Sami (%)

Reindeer husbandry*










Duodji (handicraft)





Food production





Retail, trade, tourism





Industry and forestry





Other services





* The activities and turnover for samebyar relate to internal administration and maintenance matters (for example salaries, annual meetings, board meetings, etc.) whereas the table for reindeer husbandry refers to activities and turnover in the individual reindeer herding companies.

Note: The chart above describes the percentage of total turnover for the region, separated by activities.

Source: Sametinget (2018[7]), 2018 Questionnaire.

Sami businesses/livelihoods and connections to the regional economy

Sami businesses in northern Sweden have unique characteristics and face a number of challenges in terms of their connections to the regional economy. First, many Sami businesses are small. There could be opportunities for growth in this sector by improving access to markets and adopting value-added activities. However, there are also limiting factors to Sami business growth. This is perhaps most evident for reindeer herders who need to coexist with predators, climate change, declines in lichen, conflicts with other land uses and whose herds sizes are capped with maximum thresholds set by the national government. Second, Sami businesses and cultural practices are not always well understood or well aligned with that of some of the growing industries in the regions. While there are ongoing efforts to make forestry practices more compatible with reindeer husbandry, conflicts still occur. The dominance of the energy and mining sectors within the northern economies can detract from herding activities, as can nature-based tourism. This raises the importance of effective policies and good governance to help mediate and overcome some of these challenges in order to ensure that regional development works for all – issues that are discussed in Chapters 2 and 3. Finally, it is important to note a bias in understanding Sami businesses stemming from the fact that the data privileges traditional activities simply because these are easier to identify as Sami under current data collection practices. The range and diversity of Sami livelihoods are thus poorly captured and this, in turn, has implications for how Sami contributions are recognised and linked with regional policies in northern Sweden.

Sami well-being – taking a broad view of development

Sami livelihoods and their connection to the broader regional economy are but one aspect of the conditions that shape day-to-day life. It is equally important to consider well-being more generally, including dimensions that go beyond material considerations. Such framing is grounded in a capabilities view of development which highlights the processes that expand people’s choices and opportunities to use resources to live the lives they have reason to value (Sen, 2005[31]). Well-being has gained attention as a regional development policy concept because it captures a number of factors that are important to the competitiveness of places, and the manner by which it reinforces the importance of complementarities across sectoral policies. Drawing on this approach, the OECD has developed a regional well-being framework which encompasses 11 dimensions across both objective and subjective measures: income, jobs, housing, health, access to services, environment, education, safety, civic engagement and governance, community, and life satisfaction. By this measure, regional well-being in Upper Norland (Norrbotten and Västerbotten) demonstrates strengths in the indicators for safety, civic education and the environment but relative weaknesses in the areas of income and housing among OECD regions (Figure 1.5).

In a broad sense, the OECD well-being framework is a useful starting point for considering economic development and well-being for Indigenous people. Its underlying concept of development based on capabilities is fundamentally linked to the idea of self-determination. This approach acknowledges that desired goals vary across individuals, households and communities as opposed to relying on a preconceived idea of what “success” is in terms of development. However, the categories included in the OECD well-being framework do not account for some types of assets which are unique to Indigenous communities such as those related to social, cultural, political and natural capital. As such, it can be critiqued for ignoring dimensions of well-being that are specific to Indigenous communities and for placing too much emphasis on development gaps with respect to other parts of society that may have different goals and aspirations (Yap and Yu, 2016[32]) (see Box 1.5 for elaboration).

Figure 1.5. Well-being in Upper Norland

Source: OECD (2018[33]), “Sweden”, in OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2018

Box 1.5. Improving the relevance of well-being measures for Indigenous communities

Global, national and regional frameworks to measure well-being and development need to be adapted to include the unique needs and circumstances of Indigenous peoples. Self-determined economic development should enable Indigenous peoples to make a range of different informed choices about the development of their community, clan or nation. This requires investing in different forms of capital and linking them to governance and policies to make sure they are effectively managed to deliver benefits for community members. See Table 1.6 for a summary.

For example, standard measures of cultural and social capital are designed for societies which place less emphasis on kinship and family relations compared to Indigenous communities. In this sense, subjective well-being for Indigenous communities may have a stronger collective and relational component (Yap and Yu, 2016[32]), and may be broadened to give more weight to cultural components such as the continuation of language, cultural artefacts and representations, protection of sacred sites, and traditional knowledge. For Indigenous communities, where there is a strong connection between cultural and natural capital, policies focusing on expanding economic capital need to balance the community views on the way in which their resources are used.

Political capital (access to democratic decision-making) also has different implications for Indigenous peoples. Across advanced OECD nations, there has been a shift toward self-determination (the right for Indigenous communities to govern their own affairs and shape relations with institutions with the framework of the nation-state). Putting self-determination at the centre of economic development for Indigenous people allows a better alignment between policies and development goals determined at the level of communities, as well as more participation throughout the policy design and implementation process. Political capital for Indigenous peoples needs to encompass issues such as representation, the role of community-controlled organisations, the legitimacy and cultural match of Indigenous representative and decision-making bodies, and consultation by governments about matters that impact upon Indigenous peoples.

Natural capital encompasses: the use of renewable and non-renewable natural resources (sub-soil resources, water, forests) in the production process to generate income; the asset value of ecosystems and the flow of ecosystem goods and services (air, clean water, climate, cultural and recreational benefits) into the future and; the use of land and access to it. This includes access to affordable, safe and high-quality living environments. In terms of physical capital (built infrastructure and housing), this can include access to clean, safe and drinkable water, electricity and sanitation and waste systems and services, and the resulting impacts on the environmental and public health in communities. It also encompasses the stock and quality of housing, and whether these assets are managed by Indigenous communities. In remote areas accessibility is a key issue in terms of the capacity to deliver services, and access markets (phone network coverage, internet and broadband, roads, and airports), which can also be impacted by seasonal conditions (winter, dry and monsoon seasons).

Table 1.6. Community assets and Indigenous economic development

Forms of community assets


Considerations for Indigenous peoples in relation to economic development

Physical capital

Built infrastructure – roads, buildings, houses

Access to basic services, Indigenous ownership of assets

Human capital

Work skills, leadership, educational attainment, health

Customary activities and traditional knowledge

Social capital

Norms, networks and trust

Kinship and family relations

Environmental capital

Air, water, land, flora and fauna

Land stewardship, control over access and use of land

Financial capital

Money, access to credit, equity

Indigenous-owned businesses, collective forms of asset ownership, customary activities and traditional livelihoods (imputed income)

Political capital

Access to democratic decision making

Self-determination, duty to consult, legitimacy and cultural match of representative institutions

Cultural capital

Arts and culture, museums, ethnic festivals

Indigenous language, traditional knowledge, cultural artefacts

In terms of financial and human capital (income, wealth, skills and jobs) there are a number of key issues that need to be considered in relation to Indigenous peoples. The first is that self-determined economic development can generate a range of different development choices for Indigenous peoples. In OECD member countries standard measures of economic participation (investment, employment, income, and equity), and human capital development (educational attainment) are also applicable to Indigenous populations. However, this needs to be balanced with issues such as cultural obligations, customary activities and traditional economies (particularly in remote areas); and community governance arrangements that may result in collective forms of assets ownership and utilisation. Another key aspect for economic participation is the role of Indigenous owned businesses which can provide a vehicle to generate income and wealth, develop leaders and mentors in communities, and support the maintenance of Indigenous languages and cultural practices.

Sources: Table adapted from Haines and Green (2015[34]), Asset Building and Community Development, (accessed on 23 November 2018).

Yap and Yu (2016[32]), “Operationalising the capability approach: Developing culturally relevant indicators of indigenous wellbeing – An Australian example”,

There is a limited picture of Sami well-being in Sweden

Sweden does not collect official statistics based on ethnicity or Indigenous status and as a result data limitations make it difficult to provide an assessment of Sami well-being in Sweden. There is data related to the occupation of reindeer husbandry which enables statistical analysis related to this activity (size, gender, and prices for example) but this is only an estimated 15% of the total Sami population in Sweden. The geography of the Sami can also be delimited by the 19 municipalities that belong to the administrative area of the Sami language, and the 51 sameby areas, but many Sami live outside of these areas, including in the largest cities (Beach et al., 2015[35]).

There are few comprehensive statistical studies of the Sami, and in particular, a lack of studies that examine multiple dimensions of well-being. The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth has developed municipal level well-being data, but it is not possible to distinguish Sami well-being within (Tillväxtverket, 2018[36]). There are, however, smaller studies – qualitative case studies, sample surveys, etc. – which have examined socio-economic indicators for Sami and non-Sami populations which can offer a partial picture of Sami well-being. For example, a 2015 study on the living conditions and quality of life of Indigenous peoples included assessment of the Sami in Sweden (Beach et al., 2015[35]). The sample for the study was drawn from the voter registration list of the Sami Parliament of Sweden, and although limited, does provide some important insights about the well-being of Sami peoples. Overall, the well-being of the Sami is characterised by high life satisfaction, impacts of out-migration from rural areas, the balancing of formal market participation with non-market values and subsistence, and managing pressures associated with climate change and resource extraction (Beach et al., 2015[35]). There are similar patterns apparent to the non-Indigenous population in terms of youth out-migration (for education and work) with lower levels of mobility for men, which is impacting the overall demographic profile of the Sami in rural areas over time. Identity issues are also important in Sami society, particularly the differences in recognition and rights between Sameby and non-sameby members. Gender issues are also important because voting rights in samebyar are predominantly given to men (Beach et al., 2015[35]).

The majority of studies about Sami well-being have focused on health outcomes. While poorer health outcomes among Indigenous populations versus non-Indigenous are common in many countries, research from Sweden indicates that the Sami have a life expectancy and mortality patterns similar to the general population with the exception that slightly greater incidences of cancer and cardiovascular diseases have been reported (Sjölander, 2011[37]). However, there are greater incidences of unnatural death among reindeer-herding men which is related to working conditions and the use of off-road vehicles. Between 1961-2000 there are no reported differences in suicide rate between Swedish Sami and other Swedes (Sjölander, 2011[37]). It is also noted that the suicide risk among reindeer herders has been slightly higher than among other mountain peoples and reindeer-herding Sami men and women as well as Sami living in the three north most counties may be at particular risk for suicidal expressions (Kaiser, Niclas; Salander Renberg, 2012[38]; Sjölander, 2011[37]; Omma, Sandlund and Jacobsson, 2013[39]). Studies of suicide have reinforced the importance of linking these issues to power relations and identity within a threatened Sami cultural context – this, in turn, raises the importance of culturally-relevant services and curriculum in schools for suicide prevention (Stoor et al., 2015[40]). In terms of youth, a study of Sami youth aged 18–28, the majority expressed pride in their heritage and a desire to preserve their culture (Omma and Jacobsson, 2011[41]). Nearly half had perceived discrimination or ill-treatment because of their ethnicitywith reindeer herders reporting a higher degree of ill-treatment (70%) (Omma and Jacobsson, 2011[41]). In terms of educational outcomes, there are no studies that compare educational achievement between Sami and non-Sami. However, research by Omma (2013[42]) indicates that Sami school children have lower health-related quality of life (HRQL) than other Swedish children and that education is one of the areas where they scored lower than other Swedes.

Some recent government-funded studies help to fill in the gaps in healthcare knowledge and promote culturally appropriate healthcare practices

There are several recent government-funded studies that help to fill in some of the knowledge gaps on Sami well-being. For example, in 2015, the government commissioned the Sami Parliament to compile knowledge about psychosocial ill health among the Sami people in Sweden. This knowledge overview was conducted in order to provide support to the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the relevant County Councils in work to design culturally-appropriate psychological interventions. A 2016 report by the Sami Parliament found that mental health among the Sami population, especially the reindeer herding Sami, is worse than other groups in society (Stoor, 2016[43]). This is shown both among young Sami, women and especially among reindeer-herding Sami. Rates of suicide during 1961-2000 were 50% higher among reindeer-herding Sami men than what would be expected among Swedish men. Reindeer herding Sami also have lower confidence in the healthcare system (primary healthcare and psychiatry) than other inhabitants in the northern part of Sweden and healthcare providers may lack knowledge about Sami population health.

In 2018, the Swedish government committed to funding a population-based study called HALDI – health and living conditions in Sapmi, Sweden – which will identify participants on the basis of ethnic self-identification (Axelsson, 2018[44]). The study was submitted by the Centre of Sami Research at the University of Umeå and will be structured in a manner that is similar to that of an earlier Norwegian health study led by the Sami Centre for Health Research at the Arctic University of Norway (UIT) – thus facilitating comparability between the two countries.

Most recently, in March 2017, the Government granted Västerbotten County Council, together with Jämtland County Council, Norrbotten County Council, the Sami Parliament and Swedish Sami organisations, SEK 3 000 000 to develop a knowledge-based network about Sami health outcomes. The three-year project will be used to develop a centre for Sami health which will work to increase the availability of culturally relevant healthcare that is accessible in the Sami language. The results of this initiative will be presented in 2020. This project, together with the above-mentioned studies address the need for improved understanding of Sami healthcare needs and enhanced capacity to deliver culturally-adapted health services.

Box 1.6. Conditions for Sami women

The preconditions have changed for those Sami who used to sustain themselves on reindeer husbandry, hunting, fishing, duodji and small farming. As the traditional lands are shrinking (due to other land use for infrastructure, extractive industries, etc.) fewer Sami can carry out their traditional livelihoods. This has led to that primarily Sami women have had to search other livelihoods and occupations. As such they have come to be regarded as extra labour instead of active main practitioners.

As reindeer husbandry has been mechanised and industrialised, it has become a male-dominated profession. Today, reindeer husbandry is largely carried out by men. According to statistical data from 2013 published on the Sami Parliament website, four out of ten reindeer owners are women. Only 17% of so-called group leaders are women and they own less than half as many reindeer (87 reindeers/person) as their male counterpart (196 reindeers/person). Despite this, women are very important to reindeer husbandry due to their shared responsibility in providing for and supporting the family. Many Sami women are working to strengthen the family’s economy while at the same time being in charge of the family business. To contribute to the family economy women more often than men conduct work outside the traditional Sami trades. Many women in reindeer husbandry families are also responsible for general planning, bookkeeping and accounting. Still, they participate actively in activities connected to reindeer husbandry, especially during the more labour-intense periods. However, measures are needed to facilitate for women to more actively run reindeer husbandry businesses of their own.

Source: Sametinget (2018[7]), 2018 Questionnaire.

Improving data collection and statistics

As has been noted throughout this chapter, the lack of statistical data on the Sami in Sweden makes it very difficult to understand group characteristics – e.g. how many individuals identify as Sami in the country – and to capture both the nature of their economic activities and to provide an assessment of well-being and potential inequalities. In countries such as Australia and Canada, where data on ethnic identity is collected by national statistical agencies and where there are in-depth studies on the socio-economic conditions of Indigenous peoples, inequalities across a wide range of dimensions are reported such as poorer health and educational outcomes and access to basic infrastructure.29 The extent to which this may be the case in Sweden is not fully known due to a lack of evidence.

Statistics construct power relations – they shape social realities, conveying a powerful truth (Walter and Andersen, 2013[45]). Statistical indicators are often critiqued for their inadequacy in capturing key elements such as culture and traditional knowledge which are central to Indigenous identity. However, a lack of visibility of Indigenous peoples in official statistics is equally problematic as it obscures group identity and conditions. This, in turn, may affect the design and evaluation of public policies for Indigenous peoples and communities. This section discusses both data challenges and their implications and offers recommendations for how data and statistics on the Sami population in Sweden could be improved.

Data challenges and implications

Within Sweden’s official statistics system (SOS system), Sami businesses cannot be separated from Swedish ones. Hence, there are no statistics on Sami economic activities in the Swedish statistical system, nor is data collected at the programming level (e.g. how Sami businesses access government programmes). The exception to this is data that can be obtained from reindeer herding companies because they have their own identity marker in the Swedish Standard Industrial Classification (SNI) system of the SOS.30 One of the outcomes of this is that in Sweden, there are far more studies of Sami based on reindeer herding identity than that of the broader Sami community due to ease of identification. There are, for example, no studies or in-depth assessments concerning the situation of members of the Sami community residing in the country’s urban areas (European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, 2018[46]).

Reindeer herding Sami, therefore, have greater prominence in the academic literature on contemporary Sami conditions and outcomes. This, in turn, shapes community identity and politics. This greater visibility can lead to the assumption that those who practice reindeer herding are “true” and “authentic” in contrast to other Sami (Lantto and Mörkenstam, 2008[47]).

The lack of comprehensive and comparable longitudinal data on Sami in Sweden affects the policy process/policy making in a number of ways. The contributions, conditions and experiences of Sami are largely rendered invisible which makes it challenging to direct policies towards this community or to understand where they are having a positive or negative impact. Sweden, by law, has specific obligations to Sami in terms of the protection of their language and culture, to ensure that they are not discriminated against and to ensure land rights. A lack of data on how these rights are being realised and respected makes it difficult to know if they are being fulfilled (Equality Ombudsmen of Sweden, 2012[48]). Where data does exist to serve this role, it is often fragmented or siloed in such a way as it is not useful to inform policies. For example, samebyar collect their own land use data in their reindeer management plans, but there is no Swedish agency with the responsibility of publishing that data within Sweden.31 Samebyar are careful about sharing and making these plans public as they might be used by the industry or other stakeholders in a wrongful manner (see Box 1.10 for elaboration). Consequently, when a local municipality makes a land plan, they often do not know which samebyar should be contacted as stakeholders in the process (as reported in interviews).

Sweden is not alone in having a lack of statistical data on its Sami population. Both Norway and Finland also do not collect data on ethnicity in official statistics. See, for example, efforts in Norway to try and overcome this issue (Box 1.7). In some countries, a lack of statistics on ethnic identity can be compensated with geographic data based on where Indigenous peoples live. However, this is not the case in Sweden – geographical parameters cannot be used as proxies since the Sami in Sweden do not live in distinct communities.32 Rather, their sameby land rights relate to use across a wide territory. Meanwhile, in Finland, reindeer herding is not solely a Sami occupational and as such, the system of identification through industrial codes cannot be used as a proxy identifier. This raises the broader issue of a lack of comparable statistics across Sapmi.

Box 1.7. Efforts to improve the collection of Sami statistics in Norway

In 2003, the Sami Parliament in Norway commissioned a project in co-operation Statistics Norway and the Nordic Sami Institute (Sámi Instituhtta) to develop a permanent framework to collect and dissemination of Sami statistics. This was done by producing statistics for select Sami settlement areas that qualify for support from the Sami Development Fund which is managed by the Sami Parliament.33 This only captures a portion of the Sami population in Norway; however, the underlying rationale for this approach is that the data on these defined areas are needed in order to evaluate the effectiveness of policy instruments and also that these areas are of particular relevance for the reproduction of Sami language, culture and traditions. The resulting data includes statistics on Sami Parliament elections, size and composition of the population, education, the use of Sami languages in kindergartens and schools, income and personal finances, employment, reindeer husbandry, agriculture and fishing and catch (Slaastad, 2016[49]).

In 2008/09, Statistics Norway examined the possibility of producing Sami statistics for individuals based on existing registers such as the 1970 census, the register of persons affiliated with reindeer herding activities (from the Norwegian Agriculture Agency) and the electoral register of the Sami Parliament. However, difficulties gaining permission to access this data, along with the feasibility of combining the sources accurately, led to this approach being abandoned. Norway also has an academic analysis group for Sami statistics which publishes an annual report which aims to increase knowledge that can be used by the government and the Sami Parliament in co-operation, both in consultations, budget preparation and development (Kommunal- og moderniseringsdepartementet, 2017[50]).

Sources: Slaastad (2016[49])Samisk Statistikk 2016; Kommunal- og moderniseringsdepartementet (2017[50]), Samiske Tall Forteller 10, (accessed on 05 March 2018).

Options for improved data collection and dissemination

There are ongoing discussions on the need for statistics on minority and ethnic groups in Sweden (Axelsson, 2018[44]).34 This has been raised for example by the work of Sweden’s Equality Ombudsmen in a 2012 study on the role of statistics in work on addressing discrimination.35 Ideally, information could be collected through Sweden’s survey on living conditions which examines a range of variables over time and which would facilitate comparative analysis between groups.36 However, absent legislative change, alternative strategies are needed. Some options to improve data collection and dissemination for Sami are summarised below.

  • Synthesise current data sources and identify data limitations in their use and dissemination. The landscape of data collection on Sami people and communities (and all other ethnic minorities) is fragmented. Resources are needed to determine what is currently captured and known and by whom and to analyse how data from these sources could potentially be compiled in a comparable manner to develop a more robust picture of Sami conditions. Potential data sources include: Sami schools; centres of Sami health; the Sami parliament; samebyar; Sami business associations; municipalities, granting agencies and universities/academic studies, etc. The range of actors involved presents a co-ordination challenge and there is further a need to develop guidance involving the Sami people, communities and organisations on how data collection and dissemination might proceed in an ethical, culturally sensitive and useful manner. University research institutes fulfil this role in part.37 These efforts require long-term funding in order to produce comprehensive and longitudinal data. Moreover, there is a need to better connect these efforts and instrumentalise them in order to improve public policy and interactions with industry in northern Sweden. Chapter 2 will discuss in greater depth how data could be improved to inform policies and programmes.

  • Increase research funding for Sami data collection. Only official statistical agencies of the government are presently prohibited from collecting data on the basis of ethnicity. While there is a wide range of academic studies that examine the Sami, these studies tend to be small in scale, with limited geographic and community representation and are rarely structured to facilitate Sami versus non-Sami comparisons of outcomes or longitudinal analysis. Given the lack of official statistics in Sweden, there is a particular need for research grants directed to fill this gap. The public sector in Sweden finances research and development through grants paid directly to higher education institutions and through support for research councils, sectoral research agencies and research foundations (Vetenskapsrådet, 2018[51]). County councils and municipalities also fund research, mainly in healthcare and social services. Sweden’s largest research funding agency – the Swedish Research Council – does not have any targeted funding programmes for Sami researchers or the study of Sami. This stands in contrast to the research granting councils of Australia, Canada and Norway where there are specific funding streams for research on Indigenous peoples and communities and, in the case of Canada, funding directed specifically to Indigenous researchers.

  • Develop ethical guidelines for research on Sami. One of the hindrances to improved research and data on Sami livelihoods and well-being is a lack of clear ethical guidelines on Sami research. For example, in a review of Swedish research proposals on the Sami, Drugge (2016[52]) finds that ethical guidelines for research are often referred to, but that a common view on what guidelines to use is lacking, leading to variations in terms of how they are applied in practice. There is uncertainty among researchers on ethical guidance and how to relate to current legislation around research ethics as well as a need for directions on how to conduct research in a culturally appropriate manner. The need for ethical guidelines in the conduct of research on Sami has been raised by the Sami Parliaments in Finland, Norway and Sweden; however, guidelines have yet to be developed (Stordahl et al., 2015[53]). Research ethics guidelines for Indigenous research in Canada, New Zealand and Australia serve as useful examples of how this could be pursued; however, any Swedish guidelines need to be uniquely adapted. For example, Sami research ethics guidelines may be best structured to facilitate comparative research across the four countries encompassing Sapmi. Norway’s Sami Parliament is presently developing ethical guidelines on health research which could form the basis of a broader Sapmi-wide framework (Samediggi Samitinget Norsk, 2018[54]).

  • Enhance the role and capabilities of the Sami parliament in statistics collection. The Sami Parliament is responsible for the production of some statistics (e.g. on the reindeer industry) but has limited resources and a limited mandate with which to develop and monitor indicators in such areas as industry/business, culture and social development. The Sami Parliament reports having difficulty fulfilling existing requirements for reporting and analysis; a point which the Swedish Office of the Auditor General has reiterated on several occasions (Sametinget, 2018, p. 16[55]). In its most recent budget reporting (2018-20), the Sami Parliament has noted a growing need for data and statistics on a wide range of measures related to mining and forestry in the northern regions, climate change impacts and the need to better understand the nature of Sami businesses, language and culture (Sametinget, 2018[55]). While the Sami Parliament has a voting list of 8 700 people which could be a useful source of data, it cannot use this list to produce statistics due to the prohibition of government agencies collecting data on ethnicity. The Sami Parliament of Sweden has advocated taking on a larger role in data collection which would require additional resources and staff. There has as yet been no resolution with the government on this issue. This connects to broader debates about the importance of Indigenous data sovereignty – that is, having Indigenous peoples in control of their own data content (Kukutai and Taylor, 2016[56]) (Box 1.9. Allocating a competency to the Sami Parliament for Sami economic statistics and reporting for policy development and regulatory decision making (with resources) could include: i) a standardised approach to Reindeer Husbandry Plans (which describe how samebyar use land for reindeer husbandry) which could be extended to include strategic priorities for future land use and; ii) an Annual State of the Sami Economy report, which provides an overview of trends in reindeer and non-reindeer related economic activities, and that highlights best practices innovations in different categories (e.g. reindeer herding, duodji, women, youth, etc.). A co-operation agreement between the Sami Parliament and other key state, regional and local economic development agencies (e.g. Agency for Economic and Regional Growth) on economic statistics to govern co-operation on data and information and share expertise/secondment could support such efforts. Such endeavours would require enhanced capacity within the Sami Parliament to fulfil this expanded role and, in the case of reindeer husbandry plans, would need to involve all samebyar.

  • Expand industry codes for Sami businesses. The lack of industry (SNI) codes for other Sami-owned companies makes it difficult to maintain and update data and to demonstrate the value of Sami business activities. For example, Sami handcrafters cannot use national statistics as a business rationale because Sami duodji are not identifiable therein. In order to show the extent of Sami entrepreneurship, a business inventory on each specific sector would be required. Sami sector organisations have their own membership registers, but there are many companies that are not affiliated with any trade association. Were a prefix for Sami businesses and commercial activity to be added to the SNI system for statistics, relevant data could be collected and changes over time could be monitored. This would make it possible to describe and demonstrate the importance of Sami businesses.

  • Establish a searchable Sami business directory. While the Sami Parliament collect information on Sami businesses through a voluntary process (business self-identify), this information could be expanded by developing a searchable directory. As an example, Aboriginal business directories have been established in Canada in order to increase procurement opportunities for businesses and to increase business visibility (Indigenous Services Canada, 2018[57]).

Box 1.8. Targeted funding for Indigenous research: Australia, Canada and Norway

The government research funding agencies of Australia, Canada and Norway all offer targeted funding support for either Indigenous researchers or Indigenous research. This funding helps to establish the research careers of Indigenous academics in a wide variety of fields. It also offers targeted supports for Indigenous research and supports research networks and partnerships with Indigenous communities and peoples.

For example, Norway’s Programme for Sami Research II has been established to promote basic research activities targeted towards strengthening Sami research in the humanities and social sciences, both qualitatively and quantitatively (The Research Council of Norway, 2018[58]).

In Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is implementing several pilot measures intended to support research by and with Aboriginal Peoples (known as Aboriginal Talent Measures). These include:

  • An opportunity for applicants to self-identify as Aboriginal, allowing SSHRC to track and assess participation and success rates for First Nations, Métis, Inuit and other Indigenous doctoral and postdoctoral applicants (this information is not used in the adjudication process).

  • An opportunity to identify a proposed programme of study as Aboriginal research, such that SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Aboriginal Research will apply.

  • An opportunity to identify and detail additional special circumstances that might impact the academic careers of some Aboriginal applicants (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 2018[59]).

SSHRC has also identified the experiences and aspirations of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada as essential to building a successful shared future as one of six key future challenge areas that are likely to emerge for Canada in the next few decades. SSHRC encourages and promotes research on this topic through several of its funding programmes (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 2018[59]).

Similarly, Canada’s Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health (IIPH) fosters the advancement of a national health research agenda to improve and promote the health of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada, through research, knowledge translation and capacity building (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2018[60]). It is one of the thirteen Institutes of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). IIPH provides research funding supports in the form of grants, funding of capacity building programmes and training for aboriginal researchers. This work is supported by the IIPH Network Environments for Aboriginal Health Research (NEAHR) initiative which allows researchers to continue their studies while working alongside aboriginal people – it encourages partnerships with aboriginal peoples (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2018[60]).

In Australia, the Australian Research Council provides targeted funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers through its Discovery Indigenous scheme (Australian Research Council, 2018[61]). It also includes the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education as Eligible Organisations to administer funding under the National Competitive Grants Programme and engages with stakeholders about support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers.

Sources: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2018[59]), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Website), (accessed on 08 April 2018); Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2018[60]), Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health, (accessed on 08 April 2018); The Research Council of Norway (2018[58])Programme for Sámi Research II (accessed on 08 April 2018); Australian Research Council (2018[61]), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researchers, (accessed on 08 April 2018).

Box 1.9. Indigenous data sovereignty – Why it matters

A lack of quality and disaggregated data on Indigenous peoples has long been raised in international fora such as the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. As noted by Kukutai and Taylor in their edited volume on Indigenous Data Sovereignty:

“the absence or lack of data that reflect where and how many Indigenous peoples there are, and how they are faring in relation to the realisation of their individual and collective rights is directly related to the weakness of governments and intergovernmental bodies in formulating and implementing Indigenous-sensitive decisions and programs”. (Kukutai and Taylor, 2016, p. xxi[56])

This has raised the growing need for more effective and inclusive forms of data collection and data disaggregation on Indigenous peoples, including measures that could help to support the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals in relation to realising Indigenous peoples’ rights. What these researchers emphasise is that: “any such initiative must be firmly positioned in an Indigenous (rights) approach, including the right of the Indigenous peoples to themselves determine, define and hold ownership over such initiatives and databases” (Kukutai and Taylor, 2016[56]).

In Sweden, these issues should be front and centre for any discussions on how to improve data relating to the Sami and should involve Swedish Sami Parliament, Swedish-Sami national institutions and interest organisations and an active dialogue and consultation with representatives of various Swedish Sami political and cultural organisations when relevant. There are many sensitivities related to how such information can and should be collected and used.

Reindeer husbandry land use plans are a case in point. Samebyar presently hold their own detailed data on land use while the Sami Parliament has a different data set which is less detailed, and which is critiqued for representing the view of the Swedish state. These plans are government financed. Samebyar can be hesitant to share their detailed data on how land is used by their herders because it can be misconstrued; reindeer herding needs to be extremely adaptable to changing conditions and data from one or even several years does not necessarily represent future use. Furthermore, while this data captures the movement of reindeer herds, it does not capture the depth of traditional knowledge which is not mapped and yet equally important to understanding the industry and how land is used. If land use is viewed as static by industry or governments, this could lead to a loss of rights related to its use. It is thus important to consider from the perspective of the Sami how data can be interpreted and what restrictions and possibilities there should be in terms of access and use. Similarly, slaughter statistics readily available but are also sometimes critiqued for not capturing “non-monetary” values and thus framing herding as an industry, as opposed to a traditional livelihood and cultural carrier. A Sami lens on how data is constructed, collected and used is thus critical.

It is important to overcome these data challenges. Reindeer husbandry land use plans have great utility to both government, industry and samebyar if they can be used in a manner that is deemed sensitive to the Sami concerns.

Source: Kukutai and Taylor (2016[56]), Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Toward an Agenda, Australian National University.


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← 1. Historically and in an international context, parts of Sapmi are also known as Lapland. The geographical landscape Lappland spans parts of the counties: Norrbottens län, Västerbottens län and Jämtlands län. Lapland should not to be confused with the World Heritage site Laponia.

← 2. Sami population estimates today been historically impacted by processes of colonisation. The historical categorisation of the Sami by their occupations, gender or by others (e.g. identification and enumeration by the Church in the 19th century) has over time led to a loss of ethnic identity by many families. For an overview, see Axelsson and Sköld (2006[8]).

← 3. This is based on the national interpretation of an EU directive which prohibits identification based on sexual orientation, union membership, racial and ethnic origin and political views Sweden's Equality Ombudsmen notes that data on ethnicity for the purpose of combating discrimination is not forbidden in the international legal instruments concerned with data protection, such as the EU Data Protection Directive. However, Sweden's Personal Data Act (1998:204) prohibits the processing of sensitive personal data on the basis of race, ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, membership in a trade union or health and sex life. The Personal Data Act is subsidiary to the Official Statistics Act (2001:99) and the Official Statistics Ordinance (2001:100). For instance, the processing of data on health – which is classified as sensitive – in ULF/SILC is explicitly regulated through the Official Statistics Ordinance (Equality Ombudsmen of Sweden, 2012[48]). This serves to illustrate that that the decision to prohibit the processing of data on ethnicity is not mandated by the EU Data Protection Directive but rather, a matter of national interpretation and preference.

← 4. The Sami have suffered from centuries of state oppression including the first ever institute of racial biology (operating between 1921 and 1958) which influenced politics, legislation, and educational curriculum (Hällgren, 2005[64]).

← 5. Sweden has ratified the FCNM and the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages. When ratifying the charter, all varieties of Sami were given the status of territorial/regional languages which has a strong and extensive protection in the charter.

← 6. The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169 proposes that self-identification as Indigenous or tribal shall be regarded as a fundamental criterion for determining the groups to which its provisions apply, which include: i) tribal peoples in independent countries whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations; and ii) peoples in independent countries who are regarded as Indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonisation or the establishment of present State boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.

← 7. Sweden’s Explanation of Vote at the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People states that the duty of States to consult and co-operate with Indigenous peoples “does not entail a collective right to a veto”. Thus, the principle of “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” is interpreted as a means to achieve a consultative process, not a standalone right.

← 8. A draft Convention was submitted by the Governments of Finland, Norway and Sweden to its respective Sami Parliaments on 13 January 2017. Thereafter deliberations within the Sami Parliamentary Council have taken place and in June 2018, the Sami Parliamentary Council submitted its amendments to the Governments. These amendments mostly concern: the definition of Sámi for the purpose of the electoral roll in the current draft preamble text and the understanding on how self-determination can be exercised as outlined in Article 4. The Sami Parliaments and Sami Parliamentarian Council await response from the Governments on the amendments.

← 9. See the National Minority Language Act (2009: 724).

← 10. For people who are not in the reindeer husbandry trade, special permits are required for fishing with nets and these are restricted in number.

← 11. Of the 51 sameby in Sweden, there are 33 mountain communities (fjällsameby), 10 forest communities (skogssameby) and an additional 8 concession communities (koncessionssameby) where in the latter reindeer husbandry is conducted according to a special permission given by the regional authority (Länsstyrelsen).

← 12. The Sami dispute the Swedish state's registration of title to the land. The State refers to the Royal Decree of 1683 on forests that “properties that lie in the wilderness” belong to the Crown. The interpretation of this criterion is disputed by the Sami, since the lands referred to as “wilderness” were populated and used by the Sami people. The Sami oppose this claimed ownership and see themselves as the rightful owners of this land.

← 13. The Government of Sweden has viewed that the Sami tax-lands were Crown land. Until the end of the 1600s Sami had the right to pursue reindeer husbandry, hunting and fishing on that land.

← 14. Concerning reindeer winter grazing land beyond the “lap landline” (lappmarksgränsen) in the County of Norrbotten and Västerbotten and the winter grazing lands outside the samebyar in the County of Jämtland, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision in the Nordmaling case in 2011, were the court stated that reindeer winter grazing right was based on customary law.

← 15. Until 1971, there was parallel legislation for non-reindeer herders’ rights to land use. Sami who could no longer engage in reindeer herding, for any reason, were provided rights to land use such as fishing and hunting through other legislation that gave them a right to lend land without fee. The “special treatment” began 1971 when the new reindeer husbandry act was introduced without the same being done with the parallel legislation for non-reindeer herding Sami.

← 16. It is estimated that 40%-45 % of the Sami (in all of Sapmi) know their native language. Those who speak Sami are at least bilingual – many know three or more languages (Sametinget, 2018[7]). The Sami language was oppressed and marginalised during the 20th century and as such, the number of Sami speakers has declined over time.

← 17. Reindeer herding companies as they have its own identity marker (SNI code 01491) within the SOS system.

← 18. The almost uninterrupted positive population growth in Västerbotten county since the mid-20th century has mainly taken place in urban areas at the coast, with its regional capital - Umeå - one of Europe’s fastest growing cities.

← 19. The Jämtland, Västerbotten and Norrbotten counties stood at 5.6%, 5.3% and 6.4% respectively in 2017, while for Sweden as a whole it stood at 6.7% (OECD, 2018[11]).

← 20. In carrying out its administrative responsibility of reindeer husbandry, the Sami Parliament presents annual statistical summaries to reindeer herding companies and the Sami communities. In its policy action programme for the Sami business sector, the Sami Parliament has defined Sami companies as “commercial activities carried out by Sami people”. At least 3 700 Sami companies were registered in 2014, according to statistic from the Sami Parliament’s company register on reindeer herders. The data in this register is based on applications from those companies who applied for EU-support and who participated in activities and competence development through EU-projects. The number of companies listed is the minimum amount.

← 21. See Section 65A of the Reindeer Husbandry Act.

← 22. See SOU 2006:14 page 73, Proposition 1971:51 page 24, SOU 1966:12 page 21.

← 23. As stated in Section 9 of the Reindeer Husbandry Act.

← 24. They can also fish (within the sameby) for sale (25 § RNL). The limit lies in the prohibition to sublet the right to fish.

← 25. The value of Luokta Mavas sameby’s moose meat is estimated at 13 000 kg of meat that can be sold at a price per kg of approximately 65 SEK.

← 26. For example, total accommodation income per capita in Västerbotten increased by 6.5% between 2015 and 2016, while in Jämtland and Norrbotten by 2.2% and 0.5% respectively. Domestic tourism to Västerbotten increased by 9.2% between 2015 and 2016, versus 6.0% for international tourism. This stands in contrast to Jämtland where domestic and international tourism was more balanced, with increases of 2.2% and 2.6% respectively between 2015 and 2016 and Norrbotten, where it stood at 1.9% and 1.0% respectively (Tillväxtverket, 2016[66]).

← 27. See for example a summary of research from Australia on how investments in culture improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in such areas as early childhood education, schooling, health, economic participation, healthy homes, safe communities, governance and leadership (Australia Government, 2013[63]).

← 28. Reindeer herders also have some rights by law to use forests, e.g. collect firewood and material for building (apart from grazing) (see Sections 17 and 20 of the Reindeer Husbandry Act, 1971).

← 29. See for example O’Gorman and Penner (2018[65]).

← 30. The SNI code for reindeer herding in Sweden is 01491.

← 31. While there is no single point of access to sameby land use data, there are maps denoting administrative borders of sameby. According to Section 7 of the Reindeer Husbandry Act, it is the responsibility of the Sami Parliament to decide the administrative borders of the samebyar. Currently the Sami Parliament publishes these borders along with the land use of the samebyar on its website. The borders available although these maps and digital material have no legal status.

← 32. The municipality in Sweden with the largest share of the Sami population is Jokkmokk, with about 20% Samis.

← 33. See Slaastad (2016[49]) for more recent publication of the Sami Statistics in Norway (2016).

← 34. Sweden’s Personal Data Act was replaced by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, but the lack of data in ethnic groups remains and the GDPR does not address Indigenous data collection.

← 35. Reports by Sweden's Equality Ombudsmen have long included this observation. For example, a 2008 report by the Swedish Equality Ombudsmen notes that “the lack of research and statistics is a problem when it comes to evaluating adherence to rules intended to secure the Sami rights and follow up changes over time” (Swedish Equality Ombudsman, 2008[26]).

← 36. Sweden does not conduct a population census. Rather, official statistics are based on administrative registers – a survey on living conditions on a yearly basis which is integrated with the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). This survey is sample-based and is conducted every year through telephone interviews. The survey covers the following areas: housing, income, health, leisure, civic activities, social relationships, employment and security.

← 37. For example, Umeå University is working on constructing a Demographic Data Base covering Sapmi and the university's Vaartoe Centre for Sami Research (CeSam) serves as a hub for multidisciplinary research (Umeå University, 2018[62]).

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