Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MIS)

Degree Name

Interdisciplinary Studies

Department or School/College

Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Committee Chair

Kathryn Shanley

Commitee Members

David Beck, Len Broberg


gender neutral, organization of knowledge, rationalization, Sámi, women


University of Montana


Historically, different nations-states at different times have tried to claim authority over the Sámi in the circumpolar north. After the nation state borders were drawn in the 1700s and 1800s, separating Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland, Norway introduced a harsh and 1800s separating Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland, Norway introduced a harsh assimilation policy that lasted over a century. Cultural Darwinist views and national assimilationist legislation and social strategies chipped away at Sámi society and its identity as an indigenous people. Over time Sámi women found their accustomed social, economic, and political autonomy eroded. Post World War II, the emerging welfare state of Norway began a policy of “rationalization” in an attempt to equalize and raise living standards for their citizens. The result was an increase of social and national pressures that called for the Sámi people to conform to the majority society. Social efforts at rebuilding the nation were constructed according to Norwegian political, economic, educational, and cultural norms and the Sámi were feeling increasingly unrepresented. It was at this point, between the end of the war and the later part of 1960s, a kind of Sámi renaissance arose. Through the organization of knowledge, the Sámi opened up new areas of social and political understanding. For women, the formation of cooperation initiated by Elsa Laula-Renberg in 1904 created the atmosphere for Sámi women to begin evaluating their positions and roles in a modernized and advancing society, along with giving women the political and structural tools to address their concerns regarding increasing social and economic inequalities. The 1978 Reindeer Herding Act was dubbed a gender neutral policy; however, because of ambiguities and omissions in the construction of the act, it only continued to perpetuate Sámi women’s invisibility as participants in an occupation that was traditionally central to their ethnic identity. In response Sámi women in the 1970s and 1980s began holding seminars and created organizations to address these issues socially and politically.



© Copyright 2012 Marcie Kaye Bremmer