The formation of Svenska Samernas Riksförbund (SSR) [The National Association of Swedish Sami] on October the 3rd 1950 marked the beginning of a new development in the Sami movement in Sweden. During the first half of the 20th century the Sami movement in Sweden had had problems with maintaining continuity in their work and keeping an ongoing dialogue with the authorities due to the lack of a unifying organization. Through the creation of SSR the situation changed and the Sami movement was enabled to act with growing strength.
The study focuses on the period 1950-1962, during which time SSR established itself in the political arena and began making its mark on the Swedish Sami policy. Four areas are singled out for analysis. The question of Sami rights and Sami livelihood is the first of these. Reindeer herding had been at the centre of the Sami policy since the late 19th century, and this continued during this period. The industry was also central in SSR, and the organization focussed most of its attention on issues concerning the reindeer herders. The industry had problems during the period, not least due to the exploitation of the Sami area for other purposes, but where SSR tried to emphasise these external factors when analyzing the problems, the authorities mainly focussed on internal problems. The traditional Sami rights to use the land for reindeer herding and hunting and fishing was also discussed, where SSR claimed a stronger right to the land, something the authorities did not support. Secondly, the image of the Sami was central in the discussions. The traditional image established in the Sami policy was that of the Sami as reindeer herders. This had the effect that the majority of the Sami, who were not reindeer herders, were excluded from the Sami context. During most of the examined period SSR did not challenge this image; it was only from 1960 and onwards that the organization tried to establish a broader view of the Sami within the policy area, a more inclusive view based on their position as an indigenous population in Sweden.
The third area that has been examined was how SSR acted internally towards and treated different Sami groups. The outspoken ambition of the organization was to represent all Sami in Sweden, but in reality the reindeer herders and their interests dominated the work of SSR. This created tension within the organization, since the non-reindeer herding Sami felt that their problems were neglected by SSR. However, the organization also had problems with getting the support of all the reindeer herders as well, since both the forest Sami and many of the reindeer herders not working actively within SSR felt that the organization did not really represent them. Fourthly, the impact of the demands put forward by SSR on the Sami policy has been examined. The organization rather quickly became established as an actor in the policy area, and was given a role as a consultative body. This, however, did not mean that SSR was successful in getting results based on its demands. The positive results of the work of the organization were few and small, but, nevertheless, the fact that SSR became established in the policy area meant that the authorities to a larger extent had to take the opinion of the Sami into consideration and motivate the direction of the Sami policy more thoroughly.
Umeå: Forskningsprogrammet Kulturgräns norr , 2003. , 253 p.
Svenska samernas riksförbund, Samepolitik-- historia -- Sverige -- 1950-talet -- 1960-talet, Samer-- politisk verksamhet -- historia -- Sverige -- 1950-talet -- 1960-talet