University of Oulu

Salmi, A., Heino, M.T. Tangled Worlds: The Swedish, the Sámi, and the Reindeer. Int J Histor Archaeol 23, 260–282 (2019).

Tangled worlds : the Swedish, the Sámi, and the reindeer

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Author: Salmi, Anna-Kaisa1; Heino, Matti T.2
Organizations: 1History, Culture and Communication Studies, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 1000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 5.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-09-25


Reindeer pastoralism developed among the indigenous Sámi of northern Fennoscandia, but the established colonial relationship with Sweden brought on an expanded use of reindeer. Tradesmen, priests, and officials of Swedish origin benefited from domesticated reindeer in many ways — trading reindeer products and using reindeer as transport during winter trips to marketplaces. Reindeer were, therefore, in many ways focal in the encounters between the Sámi and the Swedish. In this paper, we use zooarchaeology, stable isotope analysis, and ancient DNA analysis to interpret reindeer remains from towns, marketplaces, and agrarian settlements in medieval and early modern northern Fennoscandia. We argue that reindeer played important roles in contacts and encounters. The Sámi, the Swedish, and the reindeer formed a multispecies community. The exploration of the relationships in this multispecies community captures the complexity of human and human-animal relationships in colonial encounters. Moreover, it emphasizes the importance and agency of animals in colonial histories.

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Series: International journal of historical archaeology
ISSN: 1092-7697
ISSN-E: 1573-7748
ISSN-L: 1092-7697
Volume: 23
Pages: 260 - 282
DOI: 10.1007/s10761-018-0465-2
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: This research was funded by the Academy of Finland (Project numbers 275635 and 308322) and the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant 756431).
EU Grant Number: (756431) DOMESTICATION - Domestication in Action - Tracing Archaeological Markers of Human-Animal Interaction
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 308322
Detailed Information: 308322 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Int J Histor Archaeol. The final authenticated version is available online at