by Jessica Malmberg and James Buckland
Reindeer are free-roaming - they are herded, loosely, by region, but they are not fenced in - and these were free-roaming down the road. Our tour guide at the Laponia Naturum yesterday mentioned that they are sometimes hit by cars and then not reported. Instead, we sit and wait for them to cross the road. Then we drive on, a little slower and a little more aware.
Close to Jokkmokk, we drove over a bridge, crossing Lule river, and suddenly we see colorful paintings. There is a small dam sitting across the river, but the roar of the waters is nothing compared to the brilliant paintings done across their floodgates. In the 1970s, when the dam was constructed, local Sami artists designed their facades - bold red and yellow swathes with symbols and glyphs strewn across them. It is beautiful and very, very strange. The control building above the dam has is colored, as are the concrete buttresses holding up the wall. It doesn’t look like art, but it doesn’t look like a dam either. I think it’s quite beautiful. There is a bitter story behind the dam and the artwork, though. When the plan of the dam was presented, the people of Jokkmokk and especially the Sami people started protesting, since the dam would have a big impact on the Sami village and the surrounding Jokkmokk area.
At the reception we see that the two Sami girls that we had as guides at Naturrum the day before also guides at Porjus hydropower plant. We would think that Sami people that is reindeer herders wouldn’t want to work part time at a place that have affected their environment tremendously. But this shows the complicated relation between the Sami people and the industrialisation of the Norrbotten area.
The course came to an end at the 4th of July. We have seen so much, visited various places and driven to many places in rain, walked up the mountains surrounding Tarfala in the midnights sun. But it was time to go south. In the morning we packed our things and had a final discussion regarding the course. Thereafter we headed back towards Kiruna, to fly back to Stockholm. We have learned so much, had so many interesting discussions thanks to everyone who was a part of this course!