Samis and farmers. The conflicts between reindeer herding and agriculture on the islands of Northern Troms in the 1860s.

When the borders between Sweden and Norway were drawn in 1751, the right to continue traditional Sami reindeer herding across the national borders was legally secured. Due to population increase among Norwegians and their settling on traditional Sami reindeer pastures, as well as an increase of Swedish Sami families travelling westward to the islands of Troms in search of sufficient food for their animals in the mid-1800s, conflicts between Norwegian farmers and Samis became more frequent. This article examines how the Norwegian central and local authorities described the issues involved, and how they attempted to control the situation. The documents of two court proceedings from Troms in Northern Norway are analysed in terms of the conditions under which Swedish Sami reindeer herders could expect support from the courts when farmers stole their animals. Swedish Sami reindeer herders who stayed on the islands during the winter season, contrary to the authorities’ interpretation of their right according to the 1751 treaty with Sweden and without the permission of each and every property owner, could not expect support from the local courts. Those who had acquired such permission, however, would be protected by the legal system.