THE GUARDIAN: Indigenous reindeer herders win hunting rights battle in Sweden
A Sami woman watches over a reindeer herd near Dikanaess village in Sweden. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty
A group of indigenous reindeer herders has won a 30-year battle to take back exclusive rights to hunting and fishing across a swathe of Arctic Sweden, in an important ruling for the Sami people’s struggle to control their ancestral land.
Sweden’s supreme court ruled on Thursday that hunting rights lost in 1993 should be restored to Girjas Sameby, a Sami “village” or “district” whose herders graze reindeer over a 19-mile (30km) strip of land stretching from the Norwegian border towards the Baltic Sea.
The Sami, who speak a group of languages related to Finnish, have herded reindeer across northern Scandinavia and on Russia’s Kola peninsula for thousands of years. The five judges ruled unanimously that rights stemming from the Sami’s historical use of the territory superseded more recent rights granted by the Swedish state and its agencies.