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Kinship and Settlements: Sami Residence Patterns in the Fennoscandian Alpine Areas around A.D. 1000
By Ingela Bergman, Lars Liedgren, Lars Östlund, and Olle Zackrisson
Arctic Anthropology, Vol. 45:1 (2008)
Abstract: The transition from a hunter-gatherer economy to reindeer pastoralism among the Sami of northern Fennoscandia has been the subject of much debate among scholars concerned with Sami history. This paper adds a new angle to the discussion by focusing on the social structure of a Sami society in the high mountain area of northern Sweden around A.D. 1000. The spatial and temporal patterns of the so-called stállo settlements were analyzed in relation to the seventeenth and eighteenth century demography and community organization of a historically known Sami society. It is proposed that the overall regularity of stállo dwellings, arranged close to each other and in rows, reflects an emphasis on kinship relations and the consolidation of village solidarity. The consolidation of the local community, expressed by the spatial structuring of dwellings, formed a means of addressing internal tensions in times of dramatic and substantial change related to the transition to reindeer pastoralism.