The survey of property rights in Sámi areas of Norway—with focus on the Karasjok case
In recognition that the Indigenous Sámi have rights to land and natural resources and that Norway is obliged to identify these rights, Norway has commenced a process of surveying such rights through the 2005 Finnmark Act. The purpose of the survey is to investigate and recognise use and property rights in Finnmark, the core Sámi area in Norway. As of today, six investigations are completed. The assessments and conclusions in the first five reports are so similar in terms of collective rights that they can be said to have been cut from the same canvas. In 2019, the commission presented its sixth report, which covers the municipality of Karasjok. It marks a significant change from the previous ones, as the Commission concludes that people in the investigation field own their outlying areas. The chapter examines how the Commission arrived at its conclusion and reveals that it is more a result of a different approach to the legal history and international law than substantive differences in factual circumstances of the investigation fields. The case has recently been heard by the Land Tribunal for Finnmark. In a judgment of 21 April 2023, the Tribunal confirmed the conclusion of the Finnmark Commission. But the case will hardly stop there.