A Sameby-driven research project investigating the cumulative impacts of environmental and social change on reindeer herding and the future for Saami youth

Reindeer herders today face many challenges, including climate change (resulting in later springs and colder summers), high rates of predation on young calves, and restricted access to land due to increased encroachment (by mining, wind farms, hydroelectric dams and tourism). Given these concerns about their future, they wish to better understand how the cumulative effects of these changes are currently affecting the reindeer-herding economy and lifestyle, the land, as well as their future impact on Saami reindeer-herder culture and language.
When they finish school, young Saami students have to make choices based on what they believe the future holds. Would their best prospects be in mining, tourism, or other jobs combined with reindeer herding?
To address these issues, a proposal for an initial research project was drafted in July 2017 during a series of workshops with the Jåkkåkaska Sameby at the reindeer-marking camp in Arasluokta. The project, aimed at exploring options and possible future scenarios, will be led by Sameby members and students at the Saami school in Jokkmok, working with a team of researchers from universities in Sweden, Norway, Finland and France. In this way, Saami schools, Sameby members and academics will join forces to develop an integrated, interdisciplinary, collaborative participatory-action research program to explore the issues and priorities and develop an action plan. This approach will bring together local expertise and scientific knowledge in order to better understand the magnitude of changes, to analyze their impacts, and to envision the scenarios for the future. The Saami of Sapmi seek an overall view of the changes taking place rather than dealing with one question at a time.BOAZU stands for “reindeer” in Saami.