In 1987, the Norwegian Government passed the Sámi Law, which expressly protected the interests of' the Norwegian Sami as an ethnic group and provided for the establishment of the Norwegian Sami Parliament, a representative body to be elected by and among the Norwegian Sámi. This body will replace the current Norwegian Sami Council. Although the reform reflects Government response to Sámi demands for greater ethnic self-determination, the Sámi Parliament can, as yet, only act in an advisory capacity.
The passage of the Sámi Law has exacerbated the division between Sámi ethnopolitical factions, as reflected in the polarization of the three Norwegian Sámi organizations vis-á-vis ethnic self-determination. The Sámi organizations project different versions of a Sámi ethnic identity as shown in the way they manipulate ethnic symbols. These differences in approach towards ethnic identity management reflect differing experiences of Norwegian/Sámi relations. Thus the essence of a Sami ethnic identity is no longer straightforward, owing to codifications of Sámi ethnicity imposed from without. This has implications for the viability of the Sami Parliament: its credibility depends on it being representative of the Sámi population in general. Since decisive powers have not, as yet, been conferred upon the Sámi Parliament, its symbolic significance will, at least at the outset, be paramount. In light of these considerations, the Sámi Parliament may be unsuccessful in gaining the support of that sector of the Sámi population which experiences a Sámi ethnic identity as problematic.
Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge , 1989. , 99 p.