Av: Olof T Johansson
Tåssåsens Sámi Commnuity
Tåssåsens Sameby brings the following as evidence of its suit:
1. Our viewpoints about the progress of the private forest owners' claim:Regarding the progress of the lawsuit of the private land owners, it should be observed that the map concerning winter grazing area in Southern Jämtland (see their appendix D) does not indicate an outer border of the winter grazing area. Instead the map shows the extent of winter pasture which was used at the time when the map was made. This is also shown by its name: "land use review". The Sámi community raises objection against the land-owners' description that "reindeer spread over the forest and other land and cause damage". On winter grazing land the reindeer are gathered and watched until migration back to the reindeer mountain areas takes place. The land owners state that "further reindeer can be an obstacle for hunting" without explaining in which way reindeer could be a hindrance. Further it is stated that "snowmobile driving which takes place in connection with reindeer herding is detrimental, e.g. for forest roads". Additionally, there is no explanation here of what way snowmobiles could be detrimental. As far as we know this has not led to any problems. However, without being guilty for it we are often accused of driving snowmobiles on forest roads that are not snowplowed. Regarding the land-owners' statement that "as it appears from enclosed excerpts of preparatory work, appendix E, reindeer grazing was not even found close to the current parishes [in question]", we can only state the fact that the commentators mention very briefly that Laps (Sámi) "migrate away from their (tax) mountains in winter, but - in conformity with other Laps in the area - don't do such long migrations". They also state that the Laps migrate to "the forest districts around" (meaning, in relation to the tax mountain areas). These statements should be considered in relation to the length (distance) of the migrations which the Laps in northern Jämtland (Frostviken) undertook down to Solleftea, Härnösand and Sundsvall (page 53 same investigation) and the winter migrations of the Laps in southern Norbotten and Västerbotten down to the coast (page 38-40 and 43-46). How far down the Laps in Undersakers, Hallens and Ovikens parishes moved does not appear from the document. The land-owners state further that "in the committee's proposed bill [committee of 1895, author's remark], page 34 appendix F, it is written amongst other things that Ovikens Sámi community considered that in the areas which were assigned to the Laps there was sufficient pasture accessible for the whole year, and therefore all migration in winter time could stop". We can only state that the given statement is incorrect and is only valid for the settled residents in these districts, but not for Ovikens Sámi community. This becomes clear if one reads the document. Ovikens Sámi community was not present at all in the meeting concerning this question that appears from page 127-130 of their written statement that is attached to the investigation. In this statement they regret that they received the invitation too late to allow attendance. The attitude of Ovikens Sámi community (page 127) was that it was absolutely necessary "that the customary rights which exist since ancient times and are settled in the "Lappish law" of 1886 are kept without reduction or encroachment".
Regarding the land owners' appendices G, H and I, we see their content only as a confirmation of how important it is to have access to extensive (large) winter pastures in order to be able to alternate grazing areas within them. Alternating depends on how the grazing situation looks like in different winters as well as in different periods of the winter. We will develop this further down in our defense.
2. Traditional KnowledgeOur possibility to strengthen our winter grazing rights remains dependent on the oral tradition of us Sámi and our traditional knowledge about the reindeer and their pasture needs.
We base our statements on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which Sweden has ratified. In this convention we refer in particular to chapter 8j about respect for indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge and customs. It is stated there that the [signing] countries should accept and see to it that traditional knowledge is given the same respect as all other knowledge at the time when the convention was applied.
Our traditional knowledge is not based on written documentation but rather, on hereditary oral knowledge which has to be taken into consideration by the district court. Additionally, no one can ignore the fact that the lawsuit deals with questions of biological diversity and the traditional Sámi knowledge about reindeer, and thereby, pasture needs.
In the writings and investigations about us, the Sámi, which have been made by Swedes in Swedish, one can find scattered sections that support the claims of our traditional knowledge. However, none gives a clear, holistic picture of our situation. We will use these scattered pieces in order to try to give the court a clear picture of our right to use the private forest areas for winter grazing.
3. The old days (ancient times)Our oral tradition both from here, in the southern Sámi area, or from further north, says nothing to the effect that we came migrating from somewhere else. In his book of 1910 Johan Turi writes about the Sámi life: "one hasn´t heard that the Laplanders have come here from somewhere else. The Laplander has always been here in Lapland, and formerly at that time when the Laplander lived here along the coast, not a single other inhabitant lived along the coast. That time was a good time for the Laplanders. Additionally, in former times the Laplanders lived everywhere on the Swedish side [of Lapland, remark of translator]. At that time there were no farmers anywhere; the Laplanders didn't know that other people existed other then themselves." Therefore, we can state that we have been here longer than any history can remember.
When the inland ice drew back from Jämtland 9000 years ago, both people and animals had the opportunity to populate the area. In a chapter of "A book about Jämtland" Thomas Johansson writes that, most probably, the necessary conditions for people to live already existed before the ice-lake of central Jämtland drained in 6800 B.C. The very earliest people lived as hunters and gatherers. Hunting and fishing was their nourishment, but they also gathered various edibles such as herbs, berries, fruits, sprouts, sap, insects, bugs etc. Characteristic for such a culture is that it is usually of nomadic nature. The people often migrate within an area looking for food.
Johansson also notes a "ski finding" of Lövberga in Alanäs. Although the finding cannot be dated more precisely than c. 1000 B.C. to 1000 A.D., the fact is clear that the Sámi were the earliest users of skis. This was already documented by Paulus Diaconus, who wrote in the middle of the 8th century. Regarding the immigration of reindeer in Sápmi, there is a written description in the paper "Ottar", by Nickolaus Tyler and Knut Röed. They write: "the reindeer are the only living species of hoofed animal which exists around the whole northern hemisphere above 60 degree of latitude. The Eurasian tundra reindeer, inclusive of both Norwegian wild reindeer and tame reindeer, are descendent from the Bering-refuge in Eastern Siberia and Alaska/Yukon. After the last ice age, they migrated west from this area. They spread about the coniferous forest and tundra areas in Eurasia from Siberia to Scandinavia. Rock-carvings indicate that stone-age hunters caught and tamed reindeer to use as decoy animals as early as 6000 years ago." In his book "The Sámi", Israel Roung wrote a chapter about a system of trapping hollows for reindeer. "Characteristic for them is their placing in the landscape in narrow passages of different kinds. Where two natural barriers adjoin, a narrow passage exists through which a stream of migrating reindeer crowds together in passage. "He writes further that "in connection with these trapping constructions, two different collections of Lappish tent sites (grounds) have been found. From the tents, one had an exceptional view over the trapping construction. Even places to hide meat have been found, such as partially stone cavities of the kind that have been used by the Sámi recently." Such a trapping-hollow system for reindeer with associated tent sites and meat-hiding places can be found near Glen. Glen is the main residence of the modern-day Tåssåssen Sámi reindeer herding community. Trapping-hollow systems, tent sites etc. show a continuity of Sámi presence in the area extending further back in history than anyone can remember. Some of the tent sites that were in use during the last centuries can be remembered by the names of the people living there. The oldest is so ancient that nobody remembers who lived there.
Glen is a spring and autumn residence where the Sámi lived strategically in exactly the seasons when the reindeer migrated down to the forests, and when they came back up to the mountains in spring. Glen was inhabited, as described above, before the reindeer were domesticated, thus during the time when the trapping- hollows were in use. Yet even later, when the reindeer were guarded in a domesticated form, Glen was inhabited between the different grazing seasons of the year. Glen is situated in the valley of Aran, which runs further south towards Ljungan and Klövsjö. The main areas under dispute are close to Klövsjö-Rätan, and within view from Glen. The genetic origins of the Sámi have been studied recently. In a paper "The Sámi - a genetically unique indigenous people", Lars Beckman records on page 14 the influence of Sámi on the Swedish population. His map shows a clearly distinct Sámi impact in the northern and northwest parts of Norrbotten and Västerbotten counties, and a lesser impact south through East Jämtland and Härjedalen. A clear and sharp accounting of the Sámi/reindeer presence since times immemorial, in the areas in question, is indisputable when considering together: · the oral tradition,
· the ice retreat,
· the reindeer dispersal,
· the ski findings,
· the trapping hollow system (including old tent sites), and
· genetic studies.
There is no reason to doubt the fact that the Sámi constitute an indigenous people in the county of Jämtland.
4. The reindeer and the SámiTraditional knowledge about reindeer and reindeer husbandry is based on the relationship between Sámi and reindeer, which has been going on for thousands of years. Reindeer were at first a hunted game, gradually becoming a semi-domesticated animal. The relationship between Sámi and reindeer was first built on pursuing the reindeer during different seasons of the year, and later developed into the practice of following and guarding the reindeer in the different seasonal grazing grounds. As a result, Sámi dwelling sites are strategically situated according to where the reindeer move to in different times of the year. Of course it is impossible - or as in our case, very difficult - to find remains of old winter sites as these are generally built temporarily on frozen ground. On the other hand, there are myriad autumn, spring and summer residences that prove a long continuity of Sámi presence in the area. These are the tangible, physical proofs of such periods of residence. Less obvious - but even more important - is the knowledge of traditional grazing habits which can be found amongst the reindeer herders. However, this knowledge cannot be found written down in Swedish, a foreign language to the Sámi. Sámi is a spoken language which first got it's own system of spelling during the 20th century.
Elder Sámi often cannot read nor write their own language, although they speak fluently. Their traditional knowledge deals partly with reindeer behavior: how reindeer move in an area, how they graze, how they seek out paths between different seasonal grazing grounds; and partly, how weather influences the reindeer as well as the grazing ground and which land is appropriate according to different weather conditions. The fact that there are hundreds of words which describe reindeer, snow consistency and reindeer grazing ground witnesses a deep knowledge of nature. All this is obvious for a reindeer herder without the need for scientific understanding and explanations. The latter most often confirms what a reindeer herder already knows, yet higher value is usually attached to scientific knowledge than to traditional knowledge. By ratifying the Convention on Biological Diversity, Sweden is also obliged to implement its content; e.g. in the judicial system. In plain language this implies that we would not need to search for written documentation which proves our knowledge. To be able to show the district court how this knowledge works in practice we ask that an inspection in the field be carried out. Reindeer husbandry has been - both in the old times and in modern times - built partly on nomadism, i.e. following the reindeer herd during different seasons of the year. To avoid overgrazing it has been partly on a rotational pasture system, i.e. active participation by the Sámi in the reindeer movement patterns so as to assure that the reindeer are not overusing any one grazing ground. It may appear contradictory to guard reindeer and keep them clotted together in wintertime, while simultaneously trying to prevent overgrazing. However, the explanation is quite simple. In order for the reindeer herd to take advantage of the available pasture during one winter, it must be held gathered (under normal circumstances). [comment by translator: [As long as snow covers the ground, it is impossible to overgraze a winter grazing area in one single winter. Each time when a reindeer digs a hole in the snow layer, it eats just a little bit of the lichen in the hole. Then the snow freezes and hardens (gets icy). Even around this hole all snow which had been touched by the reindeer freezes all the way down to the ground, thus the lichens become unavailable in this entire spot. Overgrazing of a winter grazing area can only appear if one keeps coming back to the exact same area for too many years in a row or if the reindeer graze there when no snow covers the ground. Therefore rotational grazing is very important: in one specific area is grazing takes place for a period of 10 to 15 years; then the are is left alone at least as long as grazing took place (the same amount of years) or even twice as many years as it was grazed on, depending on in what condition the layer of lichens is. (This is comparable with a Swiss cheese where the reindeer would only eat the bits where you can find the holes in the cheese…;-). ]
As soon as the snow is trampled on and dug through, by the reindeer searching for buried food, it freezes together and the pasture becomes unavailable. Thus there is a critical limit to the length of time a single area may be used. An area should not be used continuously throughout many consecutive years in order to prevent overgrazing of the sensitive lichen food. Any one area must remain ungrazed for some 10 years or more before it can be used again. A rotational pasture system thus operates within two temporal scales, the first being seasonal, while the second is a broader, longer time scale occurring across decades. The Sámi community will develop this reasoning (statement) through witness hearing with reindeer herders from the community. A number of "core areas" are required so that a winter grazing area shall encompass all the conditions required in order to carry out reindeer husbandry during the winter half-year. These core areas shall provide good availability of ground lichens and be easily accessed by migration paths both at autumn and spring migration. With the help of vegetation maps the Sámi community is going to indicate the different pasture types within the winter pastures of the Sámi communities. Within any core area there shall be adequate "key areas" with high character of comfort for reindeer, where the reindeer can also flee when disturbed and when attacked by predators. A core area shall be surrounded by an area which provides, in addition to sufficient ground lichen cover, a cover of other supplemental grazing plants which reindeer can use during winter. It is also important that hanging lichens are accessible, which can be used in case the ground lichens are inaccessible. The topography in the area is also of essential significance, considering that sudden changes of weather or large snowfalls can make a big difference in accessibility of pasture between valley bottoms and steep slopes, and high altitude slopes. The grazing situation is never the same from one year to another. In the beginning of winter it is therefore never possible to know exactly where the reindeer will head to graze. A winter grazing area should be so large that it allows grazing under all imaginable situations that may arise during winter time. It also has to be so large that it allows rotational grazing where one isn't forced to overgraze certain areas. For any Sámi community, their winter grazing district should be 2 to 5 times larger in size than the size of the 'mountain area', used for grazing in summer, fall and spring. The necessary size of the winter grazing area depends on its quality. If the area is of high quality, it is sufficient that it be only twice the size of the 'mountain area'. Otherwise it should be up to five times larger in size then the 'mountain area'. Also this will be developed further in the witness hearing with reindeer herders. Regarding reindeer grazing habits we also refer to what is written in the book "Reindeer husbandry - a presentation for foresters" on page 48-50 and 99-106 as well as in the periodical "Ottar", page 11-18. The Swedish - Norwegian commission for reindeer husbandry is working on the completion of grazing inventories of all Sámi communities in Sweden and Norway. In a short period of time this will be accessible and we will then refer to this material.
5. Maps of the reindeer husbandry areaThroughout the years the reindeer husbandry area has been assessed several times, either in the form of maps or through information gathered from maps. It is important to keep in mind that there is a big difference between maps concerning the mountain area of the Sámi communities (which is used in the time of the year when the ground is free of snow), and maps of the total reindeer husbandry area, inclusive of the winter grazing areas. We stick to the latter. In the book "A book about Jämtland", chapter "The Sámi in Jämtland" , page 143 Lars Thomasson writes the following:
According to [the] information of J.O. Hagström, in the middle of the 18th century, Jämtlands Lapland was located outside and around Jämtlands mountains and was bound by Angermanland Lapmark in the north, Norwegian mountains in the west and by Härjedalen in the south. The length amounted to something above 300 km of vast gorge, and a width of 80 to 100 km. In some places, especially on the northern border from Ström parish, it was even 120 to 150 km wide." Thomasson considers that the printed sources of information, which include Hagström's description about the Sámi of Jämtland, is of particular interest because his travel description from 1751- "Jämtlands economical description" - is, according to his own report, the first description of Sámi in Jämtland besides the little pieces of information which Hagström left himself in Lärda newspapers 1750. In 1883 the proposal (page 21-22) of the Lapp committee for a directive concerning the Swedish Laps and the settlers in Sweden, the committee members present an investigation about the nomadic Laps spreading in Sweden. They say that "at present, Laps which have reindeer husbandry as their source of income wander around in the part of Sweden which is located north of the 62nd degree of latitude. The mountains which are situated on the border between Härjedalen and Dalarna - together with the mountain ridge which leads along the national border to Norway and from which, in quite big stretches, many un-forested mountain branches end towards East - offer extensive vast grazing areas for the reindeer in spring, summer and autumn. The well-forested areas - beginning east of these mountain branches - and their rich soils produce reindeer lichens, the primary nourishment for reindeer during the winter months." "Within the above specified vast areas of our native country there can certainly be found districts which the Laps neither visit at present nor have visited within living memory on their wanderings. In particular this is valid for some parts of the coastal area by the Gulf of Bothnia, but for the most part the boundary which has been indicated above with respect to the part of Sweden where Laps are living … should still be considered as sufficiently done and right." The Sámi community states that its winter pasture area is located within the area indicated above. The 62nd degree of latitude leads from west to east in a stretch from South-Foskros to Svegssjön-Karböle-Gnarp.
In an appendix to a protocol of parliament of 1886 there are "statements of a particular committee". In it, the committees' investigation about spreading of the Lappish tribe North of 62nd degree of latitude is quoted on page 2-3.
On the other hand, on page 14-15, the special committee rejects a geographical borderline for winter grazing with the following justification: "The question became more difficult with regard to winter time. The easiest way to solve the present task in this point would be to call for a commission to define a geographical borderline for the area within which the Laps would have the right to wander around also in winter time. They would by no means be allowed to cross this border line ... In the preliminary commission this solution was seen as the only correct one. And likewise in the committee this opinion has been acknowledged. However, of the information which the committee has gathered concerning the character of trade which the Laps live off of or about reindeer husbandry, the committee has come to the conviction that such a division of land (even if it was feasible in practice, which the committee doubts) could nevertheless not be maintained and thus the goal would fail.
The committee has stated above that reindeer have different living needs in winter and in summer time. Furthermore that -by natural instinct - reindeer migrate to the areas to which they became accustomed during many years, knowing that their needs are satisfied there. Additionally, that the mountain areas which provide during summer what reindeer need, are not sufficient in winter. Moreover it is known that when reindeer are chased by hunger, snow storms or predators, no reindeer herder has power over them and consequently it is equally often the reindeer, as much as the herders, who decide the (location of the) Lappish dwelling sites. From this it is probably clear that regardless of how a geographical borderline for a Lappish territory will be drawn, it will nevertheless never gain security because it could happen that the Laps will cross this border out of necessity. An effective maintenance of this borderline would, provided that it was possible, in many cases mean for the Laps the ruin and destruction of their reindeer herds. Thus with the significance outlined above, the thought of a geographical border line between Lappish land and settlers' land must be described as absolutely impracticable." With this we have presumably found the explanation for why an outer border has never been determined. The Lap-committee of 1919 writes on page 103-104: "The committee has carried out investigations in this respect. The purpose was to find out how far downwards to the Gulf of Bothnia the Laps have usually extended their winter migration since older times." "In the question of Jämtlands county the investigation has shown that basically all parishes have been visited by Laplanders for reindeer grazing, and as far as Gävleborgs county is concerned the circumstances are in general probably the same, at least in the part of the county which belongs to Hälsingland." "The committee was only able to approximately define the geographical extent of the borders for customary rights. For many of the questioned areas it is valid that they are regularly visited by the Laps, for others it is valid that they are visited again (returned to) and especially those who are situated further away from the mountains are only visited when the reindeer's need for food cannot be satisfied suitably nearby. Thus -depending on pasture accessibility - long times can pass between visits of particular areas. In the meantime it should be probably obvious that the customary right -which is less based on the Laps' wishes then on the reindeer's need for food - cannot, without further notice, be considered as withdrawn because a longer time has passed between the Laps' visits. For practical reasons the committee has considered to indicate no borders for the customary area. However, in this respect it has kept the statute (regulation) of the reindeer grazing law of 1898."
The former county accountant Elof Huss specifies in the "investigation concerning reindeer areas for Laps in the county of Jämtland and Kopparberg" and in the map, which is added to the investigation, delivered March 16th 1959, an "outer border for the areas which are located outside the reindeer mountains and the mentioned Crown land, which have been used for winter grazing during the years of 1926 to 1958". According to Huss this boundary runs south of Nederhögen-Rätan. In its report 44, part 5 from 1978 "Reindeer husbandry in municipality planning" the national board of agriculture [et al.] has produced a map of the reindeer husbandry's areas of interest. There the winter grazing area for this current area is indicated as a line Älvros-Ramsjön-Handsjön. In the national atlas of Sweden, a map is published of the reindeer husbandry area which then is also used by the Department of Agriculture in its information brochure about "Reindeer husbandry in Sweden". Even in this, the winter grazing area is marked by a line Älvros-Ramsjön-Handsjön. What we can note is that the border of the area which was constituted north of the 62nd degree of latitude in the investigation of 1883 was altered to run more N-E on the maps in the attempts made to identify the winter grazing areas. However, the only clear defined border is from 1883.
6. Legislation and investigationsBoth investigations and legislation have confirmed, since the committee of 1883 and the law of 1886, that the Sámi have a right in winter time to "stay with their reindeer not only on the land particularly designated for them, but even in the other districts which they have customarily visited up through modern times. They can make use of the land and water which they need to support themselves and their reindeer." In the legal proposal of the committee of 1895 the same is repeated: "Thus the Sámi and their reindeer have, in like manner, the right to stay in the districts outside the mentioned Lappish areas and outside the reindeer grazing mountains in the county of Jämtland, which the Laps have visited from old custom."
The Lap committee of 1919 is equally consistent when it records its proposal regarding Sámi reindeer husbandry in SOU (SOU means Official State Investigation) 1923: 51: "the reindeer-herding mountain Laps should be empowered to take their reindeer to pasture"(section three) "moreover to such areas within the counties of Norbotten, Västerbotten, Jämtland, Västernorrland, Gävleborg and Kopparberg, which the Laps have visited with their reindeer from old custom."
For SOU 1927:25 an expert was specifically called in to deliver his opinion regarding grazing rights of Swedish Laps in Sweden. He stated the same thing in §2: "together with the districts outside the mentioned Lappish areas and outside the reindeer grazing mountains in the county of Jämtland, which Laps, from old custom have visited, the Sámi have the right to also stay there with their reindeer."
Even the currently valid law from 1971, revised in 1993, expresses the same thing: "From October 1st to April 30th within such [winter grazing areas]outside Lappish land and reindeer grazing mountains, reindeer husbandry has been traditionally carried on at the said times of the year."
The authorities in Jämtland go even further in their General Announcment nr. 27, 1929, in which they determine a community plan for the Lappish communities of the county. In §2 it is said that: "Good reindeer husbandry absolutely requires that the Lapp community is conserving the area which is allotted to them as long as possible. It should not deteriorate the area by letting reindeer graze too much or make it useless for the coming generations of reindeer herders. Therefore the Laps should be outside the reindeer grazing mountains and on the move towards their winter grazing land, at the latest, by November 15th." In §16 is an order to pay a fine because of a violation of §2. The community plan of 1929 was valid until 1946 when a new community plan became enforced, which was valid until 1971. In that new plan it is also stated (in §5) that a fine has to be paid in times of violation of [§2]: "The sorting out of reindeer into groups - at the maximum permitted number of animals which may be jointly brought to pasture grounds in the winter grazing area - should be carried out before the end of November. After performing such sorting, the migration to the winter grazing land should start immediately." Thus, the Sámi did not only have the right to migrate outside the mountain area, but they had the duty to do so in the winter period. According to authorities, violation of this duty results in an order to pay a fine. Investigations and legislation assume three factors regarding grazing outside the reindeer grazing mountains. These are that it should occur in districts which - from old customs - have been visited from October until April. The notion "districts" reappears in many places in the investigations. They talk neither about division, parcel, field, parish nor about other notions which are currently used by Swedish society, but consistently write about "district", "winter grazing district" or "summer grazing district". How large then is such a "district"? It is the grazing needs of the reindeer which constitute the foundation of how big a "district" is. A "district" has to fulfill the qualifications which we specified above in chapter four: it is evident from the statement of the committee of 1883, page 65, that a district is not a small area, and in terms of size, a district amounts to at least what later was set aside as all-year-round-area for a "Lap community". In this reasoning they mean that the Laps should be given districts (summer grazing districts) where they can find all the conditions necessary for the management of their trade during this time of the year, and where agriculture is forbidden. Additionally, in the rest of the year (the winter half-year) the Laps must have the right to stay with their reindeer herds in districts in which cultivation has advanced as a result of colonization.
In SOU 1923:51, §8, page 11, the committee states: "The districts, in which mountain reindeer herding may be carried on, should be divided by the county administration into specific Lapp community areas. For these - as far as spring, summer and fall pasture land is concerned - fixed boundaries shall be defined. Such boundaries may be defined for winter pasture land. They also have to be tested to be possible and appropriate." Further on, page 103, § 4, they write that "Concerning the districts above the cultivation line in the counties of Norbotten and Västerbotten, as well as in the reindeer grazing mountains of the county of Jämtland, the regulation supposes that these districts are still worth being considered as true residence for mountain Laps. They shall have the right to stay in these districts with their reindeer in every time of the year." In the General Announcement Nr. 161, 1946 §3 of the county of Jämtland one can read about the division of community areas in grazing districts and grazing land. "The 'district' of a Lap community may be divided into grazing areas during different seasons - all according to the use of the area. Where this is considered to be suitable, such a 'district' should be divided into particular grazing land, each to be used by a specific 'group' amongst the Laps of the community." Thus the size of a 'district' is considerably larger then the size of grazing land of one winter 'group'. And the size of a [reindeer] 'winter group' appears from §5, section 4: "When staying in the winter grazing district the reindeer should be divided into groups of max. 1500 animals (in) each group[…]."
From this it is easy to understand that the Sámi have visited certain customary 'districts'. They did not visit each individual piece of property. That we have visited the present winter grazing 'district' of the Tåssåssen Sámi community appears continuously and clearly from the following two sources: (1) the land owners' appendices G, H and I; and (2) together with the investigation of Huss, on pages 136-140 and ppg. 304 -306 from the interviewed people there.
Besides what each person told there about reindeer grazing, it is interesting to note what the farmer Sven Eriksson in Börtnan mentions: that the Laps had dwelling places on the "mountain of Ram" (Ramberget) according to tradition in the 17th century. These were located within Skålans village area. Even Lars Johansson - prefect in Tåssåssen Sámi reindeer herding community - mentions this. In the statement we even want to entirely bring in an article by professor Bertil Bengtsson, published in the Swedish Juridical Paper (Svensk Juristtidning) in which he touches upon some Sámi judicial matters. Amongst other statements, he says on page 44:
" [..]it seems doubtful if one shall draw some parallels from the demand of proof, concerning such rights as the right of possession and the right to an easement, when one examines the proof if a Sámi reindeer herding community has used a certain area for reindeer grazing once in a while in the course of the years. This is a question of use which naturally happens with certain stays (stops?), depending on weather, snow fall and the like, and it can never get the same stability as other land uses, some regular use is not needed."
7. Reindeer grazing inventoriesAssociated with a planned enlargement of tourist constructions in the area of Klövsjö-Vemdalen, a description of consequences in the municipality planning was made by the Building Research Council, report 22:94. A part in this description of consequences is a ground lichen inventory of the area. An outcome of the inventory - partly done by manual area measurement, partly with GIS techniques - was the determination that the area can sustain 4100 to 4900 reindeer, grazing 200 days a year. The northern half of the area is available to the Tåssåssen Sámi reindeer herding community, and can sustain 2000 to 2500 reindeer for winter grazing. The inventory confirmed the traditional knowledge of the reindeer herders in the Sámi reindeer herding community regarding the amount of reindeer the land can handle. With this the reindeer herding Sámi community wants to prove the good winter pasture of this area. Additionally, we want to give a picture of how large of an area of good ground lichens is needed to feed a reindeer herd.
8. OtherRegarding the real estate "Björnberget 1:1" [name of the property] the relation is such that it has previously been a State Forest. It was then passed on to the privatized AssiDomän. During the time it was owned by AssiDomän, as well as when it was owned by the State, the real estate was considered to be an integral part of the winter grazing land of Tåssåssen reindeer herding Sámi community.
Consultation with the reindeer herding Sámi community was made in regards to silvicultural measures. February 10th, 1997, AssiDomän announced to the Tåssåssen Sámi community that the sale of the real estate Björnberget 1:1 had taken place. Therefore, the Tåssåssen Sámi community noted with great astonishment that this real estate is part of the application (for a summons) which was handed in on July 17th 1998. Our opinion is that the fact that the real estate is a part of the communities winter grazing lands was strengthened by the letter which the Tåssåssen community received of AssiDomän February 10th 1997. It may also be noted that - according to the General Announcement of the county of Jämtland no. 27, 1900 - the Laps in Ovikens reindeer herding Sámi community have chosen persons in the parish of Klövsjö, as well as the parish of Berg, to be on duty to view and estimate damage caused by the reindeer of the Laps. If winter grazing of reindeer in these parishes was not customary and usual at that time, one would have never assigned chosen persons to this task.
9. Oral demonstration (argumentation)The reindeer herding Sámi community pleads a hearing with affirmation in lieu of oath
- Reindeer herder Olof T. Johansson, Glen 2, 84031 Åsarna
- Reindeer herder Per-Erik Jonasson, Vallbo 36, 83010 Undersåker
They are appointed to record the traditional knowledge and oral tradition concerning reindeer grazing on Tåssåssen Sámi community's districts.
- Teacher Margareta Winberg, Åkervägen 16, 83044 Nälden, as the former chairman in the "Renäringsdelegation" of the county of Jämtland. [The rennäringsdelegation is a delegation consisting of seven members, of which three are Sámi, making decisions concerning land management on Crown land on which reindeer husbandry is carried out; it lies under County Board]. She is appointed to record the attitude towards reindeer grazing right in Jämtlands county which was prevalent at the authorities of reindeer trade during the time when she was a member of the "Rennäringsdelegation".
10. Written proofsThe following documents are adduced as written proofs by Tåssåssen Sámi community to show that it has a right to graze in winter time on the districts which were visited in old custom and practice.
- Proposition for a decree concerning the Swedish laps and the settled in Sweden, investigation of 1883
- Appendix to the Parliament's protocol of the ordinary parliamentary session in Stockholm 1886, statement of the special committee
- Reindeer Grazing Law of 1886
- Proposition to the Swedish Laps' right to reindeer grazing in Sweden, committee of 1895
- Reindeer grazing law of 1898
- SOU: 1923:51 Proposition regarding Laps reindeer husbandry etc., committee of 1919
- SOU: 1927:25 Proposition regarding Swedish Laps' right to reindeer grazing in Sweden etc.
- General Announcement of the County of Jämtland Nr. 27, 1929
- General Announcement of the County of Jämtland Nr. 161, 1946
- Reindeer Grazing Law of 1971 SFS: 437 revised 1993, SFS: 1993:36
- Investigation of Elof Huss, regarding reindeer grazing districts for Laps in the county of Jämtland and Kopparberg together with the map
- And also - as appendices - the documents mentioned below (or parts of these documents) according to annotation 1-40 below. What is intended to be proven with each document is evident from the text above under the sections 2-8.
11. Inspection in the fieldTåssåssen Sámi community quotes its survey in accordance with note 9 below.
12. A long list of 40 documents follows here… all mentioned in the text.
Definitions of specific terms used in the document:Sámi community: Sámi reindeer herding community, both terms are used equally, a Sámi community is always one who makes it's livelihood from reindeer herding (Swedish term: sameby) Oviken Sámi community is a part of today's Tossosen Sámi reindeer herding community, as the former Oviken and Anaris Sámi communities merged into Tossosen Sámi reindeer herding community. 'mountain area' = summer grazing area: The term 'mountain area' refers to the geographic area of Sámi summer grazing lands, which are up in the "fjäll", the mountainous area (could also be called: low mountains). Most of the 'mountain area' is above the tree line. These areas are used for grazing when the ground is free of snow (summer and partly spring, autumn). These areas are situated north-west of the 'forest lands' which are used for grazing in the winter-half of the year, when snow covers the ground.
Often the 'mountain area' is also referred to as 'all year round area'; this can be easily misleading. It is only called 'all year round area' as the Sámi have the right secured by law to keep their reindeer in this mountainous area all year round. However, the reindeer would not survive winter in this area. Thus the animals need to be in lower forested grazing areas in winter to survive (see all the arguments above in this document). 'District' = Winter grazing area: A district is the whole winter grazing area of one entire Sami community. The reindeer are grazing there during the winter months in different parts of the district. They move within the district in smaller groups of animals. Winter group: A 'winter group' is a group of reindeer, managed by a group of reindeer herders of a Sámi reindeer herding community. Thus, in each community there are several winter groups of animals, not one large herd. The reason to keep the herds split up into reasonably sized groups is to simplify the process of watching the reindeer herds and in order to use the grazing land more efficiently. It is difficult to find such a large area that all reindeer of an entire Sámi community can graze in it simultaneously (it does appear though in some communities in some years). 'Lapp taxation land': This is a historical term: Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the land gradually became "privatised" to individual Sámi families through the institution Lapp taxation land (lappskatteland). However, the boundaries were flexible so it was not a definite private land; the community members could still make adjustments according to new family sizes. The Lapp taxation lands became well established and recognised by the state since they constituted the basis for collecting tax. Written documents confirming possession and registration of occupation where sometimes issued to the Sámi. In 1695 the government acknowledged all Lapp taxation lands in a Land Book, similar to that of agricultural land. SOU: Official State Investigation Lapp, Laplander, Sámi: Different terms are used to keep the translation of historical documents correct: Sámi is the correct form (deriving from Sámi language) used nowadays whereas 'Lapp' or 'Laplander' are historical terms and no longer used today (unless in a condescending way).