Looking at websites like dhcommons.org, I have realized that my original goals for my project have shifted as I look to create a website rather than a digital map. I have received a significant amount of inspiration from one Scalar site called Latina and Latino Mobility in 20th Century California, which uses the digital tool to create multiple pages and exhibits depicting migration to America from Mexico, including the process of reviewing archives and sources used in the exhibits. I liked the path that the exhibits followed and how smoothly images were integrated with text. I changed my project question since my last reflection, and tools like Scalar are appealing to my new goals.
I want to create a site using a basic digital map with pop-ups that describe different communities and local Sami institutions. I hope to paint a picture of Sami life in urban cities, hopefully creating more understanding as to how indigenous communities interact with other city residents and maintain their cultures. There is a common misconception that Sami who move to urban cities are getting rid of their culture. In one article I read, “Urban Sami Identities in Scandinavia: Hybridities, Ambivalences, and Cultural Innovation,” from Tromso University in Norway, the authors describe the process of Norwegianization, a transformation from indigeneity to a Norwegian life style. I find this term problematic, as Sami are Norwegian, too. Because of assumptions like this, it is falsely understood that there are little to no Sami people in cities. However, as cities are expanding, more Sami are moving to them and establishing their lives in cities. Many Sami have degrees from universities and participate in city life. Not all of Sami life is reindeer herding, but looking at Swedish legislation since the 1800s, Sweden interprets their indigeneity and indigenous rights as directly connected to a life of only reindeer herding. If Swedes don’t accept Sami city lives, then their rights become marginalized, and we lose sight of the realities of their own communities.
Constructing this project, I hope to shed light on the communities that Sami people have built in Swedish cities. I want to portray them honestly and justly. I know however, that that itself comes with its own challenges. As I am not in Sweden right now and cannot conduct ethnographic research or speak directly with any Swedish Sami city residents, I expect finding data and stories will be challenging. I have found a few websites of Sami organizations in various cities as well as a website called sametinget.se which posts news articles, has the Sami Parliament official website, and other valuable information. I will probably try to contact the people in charge of these websites in hopes of hearing from Sami people themselves. While at the moment the data I want seems a bit out of reach, I am confident that I will be able to create a project that explains Sami symbols, motivations, and communities in Sweden.
Furthermore, some cities in Scandinavia have celebrations called “Sami Week” in which Sami traditions are presented and shared with the entire community. I think this is a strong way to help others interact with Sami culture and to understand it as well as take more interest in it, but it reminds me of a piece I read this past semester in A&S 201—Culture and the Environment by Anna Tsing titled “Becoming a Tribal Elder, and Other Green Development Fantasies.” This piece discusses the fantasy that Indonesian indigenous groups have to create in order to gain legitimacy and understanding from the Indonesian government and people. Indigenous peoples struggle to maintain there ways of life as different operations attempt to take over the lands for their own benefits. As stated in “The politics of planning: assessing the impacts of mining on Sami lands” most of mining in Sweden occurs on Sami lands, yet they have little to no say in the decision. In my opinion, “Sami Week” may create the same fantasy in order to make Sami people more appealing and well understood, as well as more respected. I understand the motives, but I want to dig deeper to see how celebrations like this impact Sami culture as well as reflect the fantasies that indigenous peoples need to create. Also, I would like to understand the balance between urban Sami and other Swedes in the cities, and how they interact with one another.
I am excited about embarking on this mission of data visualization and story telling. I hope that I can be as honest and true to the Sami community as possible, and send a message of their resilience, growth, and adaptation as a people. It is important to recognize indigenous rights, and this is still a problem that Sweden faces today, despite the way that people see Sweden. While yes, Sweden is a welfare-state, it is wrong to assume that all people are equally treated and benefited. Through this project, I aspire to further understanding of indigenous peoples in modern/urban society.