Siida and Traditional Sámi Reindeer Herding Knowledge


  • Mikkel Nils Sara Sami University College


The siida is a Sámi local community that has existed from time immemorial. The reindeer herding siida has formed as an adaptation of ancient siida principles to large-scale nomadic reindeer herding. It is the prerequisite and basic organizational unit for carrying out large-scale herding. Still, the siida had not, until recently, been legally acknowledged by Norwegian national authorities. Instead, the authorities maintained their own construction of reindeer herding districts, and an outsider's representation of Sámi reindeer herding. The siida, and its use of traditional herding knowledge, has on the other hand been living its own life alongside, and often in conflict with, official accounts and decisions. Some aspects of traditional Sámi reindeer herding knowledge can be held to correspond with scientific knowledge; others differ from it or go beyond the subject area with which western scientific knowledge has been occupied. However, all these aspects concern the siida members' efforts to continuously form and realize an acting siida. In 2007 the Norwegian parliament passed the new Reindeer Herding Act acknowledging siida as the basic institution regarding land rights, organization, and daily herding management. The recently achieved legal acknowledgement of siida in Norway must result in recognition of its autonomous processes of knowledge as well as recognition of its land rights. This article discusses the question of what this acknowledgement of siida's autonomous processes of knowledge means.

Author Biography

Mikkel Nils Sara, Sami University College

Mikkel Nils Sara is assistant professor of social science at Sámi University College in Guovdageaidnu, Norway and Sámi reindeer herder.






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