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Siida Conflicts

Assignment #2 Ronald van Schaik

The Finnmark Winter Pastures Siida :

The Sami organize themselves in Siidas in which they herd the reindeer. A Siida association is both work and social. A siida is a kind of institution and exists in different variations. Some Siidas exist year round and others group and regroup at different times in a year based on the seasonal pastures.

Alta Plane



Finnmark Reindeer Herding Districts

100 KM

Summer Pastures: Winter Pastures: Buildings: Roads: Reindeer District Boarders:

Siida Distribution and Trust Summer Pastures/ Herding Districts

The summer pastures can be divided into 44 areas. On the summer pastures it is very common that one Siida has the exclusive rights to a well defined summer pasture.

Winter Pastures/ Herding Districts


Because of this the reindeer can roam freely.


The winter pastures are divided into 10 areas, 5 large and 5 small. The large areas are shared by many Siidas while the smaller areas sometimes only have 1 Siida as its pastoralists.


In the 5 large winter pastures a lot of herding with snowmobiles is needed in order to not mix the different herds.

Trust: The summer pastures embed a high degree of trust. This is mainly because most summer pastures have only one single owner (Siida group), which often has strong family ties and a long history of working togehter.





Because many Siidas are packed on one pasture there is little trust between them. 52% of a poll of pastoralists acknowledged to be suspicious of their neighbor siidas and only 19% said to have a high level of trust about their neighbor herders (see table 1).

Number of Siidas Table 1. Trust among pastoralists Source: Hausner et al, 2012



Action Arena The large winter pastures - Conflict problematic

Common Rules

No Grazing Rights

The winter pastures have flexible boundaries, which naturally can lead to tensions between neighbors. However they used to have a broadly accepted associations between their winter Siidas groups. They need the flexible boundaries because of the changing pasture conditions.

A big problem in conflict resolution is that grazing rights are not formalized so the police or administration do not have any possibilities to solve major pasture conflicts.

Common pasture rules

No Formalized Grazing Rights

The Reindeer Police

Siida isit

The Reindeer Police

Siida Isit


There is a reindeer police to deal with conflicts concerning gathering, separation, marking and slaughtering. However it´s found inappropriate to report anyone to the police and this can also cause retributions like losses of reindeer.

Siidas with large herds Large Herds Siidas with big herds have more power and therefore tend to gain the best grounds in the pastures. The can also use this power to misuse the flexible boundary systems and force smaller Siidas away. Because of this power some Siidas slaughter less in the fall to try increase their herd size in the winter for more power. This however can lead to a weak herd in case the climate is severe.

Traditionally if there were conflicts they were solved trough negotiations. There are supposed to be some informal leaders ``siida isit`` to help negotiate between neighbors on the winter pastures.

Siidas with smal herds Small Herds Siidas with small herds often have problems from Siidas with big herds because they claim the best pasture spots and use the flexible boarders in their favor and sometimes even over the line. Usually the only thing that small Siidas can do is leave to avoid serious fights and reindeer losses. One advantage from going into the winter with a smaller herd is that the herd is usually stronger and better protected against severe weather.

Source: Hausner et al, 2012

#2 Siidas Finnmark