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Eira I.M.G.,Sámi University College | Jaedicke C.,Norwegian Geotechnical Institute | Magga O.H.,Sámi University College | Maynard N.G.,NASA | And 2 more authors.
Cold Regions Science and Technology | Year: 2013

Humans describe the natural environment on the basis of their local experience and their interactions with nature in terms of its relevance to their daily lives. These descriptions are incorporated into local languages and form a specialized terminology that is unique and specifically applicable to needs and practices. In Guovdageaidnu (Kautokeino), Northern Norway, snow covers the ground more than seven months of the year in winter. Therefore, snow defines most of the conditions which must be met to support Sámi reindeer pastoralism. Snow is a prerequisite for mobility, tracking, visibility and availability of pasture plants. The terms used to describe the snow on the ground include characteristics needed to communicate snow properties relevant to reindeer herding. In this paper, traditional Sámi snow terms and their definitions are compared with the scientific and physical classification of snow on the ground. The study of traditional Sámi snow terms was carried out through historical documentation and interviews with reindeer herders. The results showed that many traditional Sámi terms describe snow conditions as they are defined by the international standard; whereas, other traditional terms describe the physical processes leading up to certain snow conditions. A group of snow terms have as their main purpose the clear communication of the snow conditions for reindeer herding to serve as a tool for internal communication within the herding community. A major finding was the herders' snow knowledge which was more holistic and integrated into the ecology of the herd and pastures than the international standard snow terms. The richness and relevance to reindeer herders of Sámi traditional snow terms show a distinctly different view of snow compared to the purely physically-based international classifications. This paper gives an overview of the most important traditional terms, their definitions, and the physical processes associated with those terms. Application of the terms was compared to local weather conditions and the physical processes that created the different snow conditions. The analysis underscores the richness and accuracy of Sámi snow terminology. In addition, this study illustrates the importance of using traditional Sámi terminology when developing adaptation strategies to future climate change for Sámi reindeer herding emphasizing the importance of two ways of knowing. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Johnsen K.I.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Benjaminsen T.A.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Eira I.M.G.,Sámi University College | Eira I.M.G.,International Center for Reindeer Husbandry
Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift | Year: 2015

The article examines key actors' perceptions on why Norwegian policy objectives aimed at securing sustainable reindeer husbandry through participation have failed in West Finnmark. Based on government documents, media debates, and interviews with the actors, the authors identify two competing narratives on why there are ‘too many reindeer’ despite continued state efforts at destocking. The dominant narrative claims that participation is unsuccessful because herders do not accept expert advice, but increase their herds for personal gain. The Sámi pastoralists' counter-narrative claims that lack of transparency hinders participation and policy implementation. Inspired by political ecology and perspectives on governance within development studies, the authors examine why the government's narrative dominates public debates, while the counter-narrative remains marginalized. They find that the dominant narrative frames destocking as an apolitical and objective measure based on unequivocal scientific advice, while the pastoralists’ rejection of such advice is presented as ignorant and irrational. The dominant narrative's authority is further increased by numerous press reports (repeated in social media) of overstocking threatening biodiversity and economic development. The authors conclude that due to the persistence of the dominant narrative, it has become an undisputed truth in Norwegian debates that Sámi pastoralists are overstocking to maximize their benefits. © 2015 Norwegian Geographical Society.

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