Accepted paper:

Skolt Sami and the Arctic Ocean Railroad plan

Authors:

Panu Itkonen (University of Lapland)

Paper short abstract:

A new railroad plan threatens the natural environment and the culture of the Skolt Sami peoples in Northern Finland. In this presentation, I discuss elements of the Skolt Sami environmental sustainability in relation to the Arctic Ocean railroad plan.

Paper long abstract:

A new railroad plan threatens the natural environment and the culture of the Skolt Sami peoples in Northern Finland. The Ministry of Transport of Finland has promoted the construction of a 465 kilometers long new railroad between Rovaniemi Northern Finland and Kirkenes Northern Norway. The purpose of the railroad is to improve the "logistical position of Finland". This "Arctic Ocean railroad" is supposed to open a new route from the North to Central and Southern Europe together with a planned railroad tunnel between Helsinki Southern Finland and Tallinn Estonia. However, the Arctic Ocean railroad would distract the "logistics" of the Skolt Sami. It would disturb Skolt Sami people's reindeer, as it would cut through their grazing grounds. In addition, the representative of the Skolt Sami has reminded that the railroad would make it easier to proceed with mining projects in the same area where soil investigations have taken place more than 10 years ago. The railroad plan has put the Skolt Sami quickly into a new situation. I claim that now it could be useful for them to bring forward their own approach to environmental sustainability as the basis of their culture. In this presentation, I discuss how elements of the Skolt Sami environmental sustainability can help to question economic and industrial aims of the ministry in relation to the railroad plan. Moreover, I think that discussion about the elements of environmental sustainability is useful, even if the Arctic Ocean Railroad was not constructed.

panel P027
Lines on the land: mobility and stasis in northern extractive landscapes