The Sámi reindeer herding community of Gran is enlisting the help of a French documentary filmmaker to stop mineral prospecting in the community’s reindeer pastureland in Vindelfjällen, northern Sweden.
“On film, it’s easier to understand how the area looks and how prospecting and mining affect us,” says Marja Skum, a reindeer owner in the Gran Sámi reindeer herding community.
Earlier this year, Blackstone Nickel AB conducted test drilling in an area between Övre Ältsvattnet and Vindelkroken. For the reindeer of the community, the area is calving territory in the spring, and they then stay there for the whole summer and into late fall. Over the warm winters of the last few years some of the community’s reindeer owners have left the reindeer in the mountains for the entire winter.
What would mining operations mean for you?
“I think it would mean the end for quite a lot of reindeer herders in the area,” says Marja Skum, and points out that the area can be used for reindeer pasture all year round when necessary due to weather conditions. She also says that the mountainous area Vindelfjällen is the only area in the Sámi reindeer herding community’s lands which has so far been left undisturbed; east of here reindeer herds share the forest with economic interests such as forestry companies, mines, and the railroad.
With their film on YouTube, the Gran Sámi reindeer herding community also hopes to show how valuable the Vindelfjällen is for others besides the area’s reindeer keepers. The area is a Natura 2000 reserve, identified by the European Union for having particular species and habitats worth preserving, and it also forms part of the Vindelfjällen nature reserve. Marja Skum also points out that the headwaters of the Vindelälven reserve lie precisely in the vicinity where the company conducted the test drilling.
“Any mine would affect the unspoiled nature of the mountains tremendously, and I think there are more people than just us who want to preserve it,” says Marja Skum, and adds that nature has long-term value, unlike mining.