The indigenous Sámi people of Norway and their linguistic struggle

by Jill Boggs and Grace Alger

second place, Arts and Humanities A 


The study of linguistics plays an important and under-utilized role in understanding the development and resolution of ethnic conflicts. Differences in the facilitation, structure, and historical background of linguistically distinct ethnicities are valuable tools in determining how and why conflicts develop between groups, and language serves as a useful proxy in comparing cultural differences across opposing ethnic groups.  

This project’s goal is the construction of an online encyclopedia cataloguing global ethnolinguistic conflicts, with this case study outlining the development and eventual conclusion of linguistic conflicts between ethnic groups in Norway. A range of historical, scholarly, and news articles were used to compile a case study of the minority Sami ethnicity’s suppression by dominant Norwegians, with the replacement of Sami language with Norwegian serving as the major repressive action taken by the Norwegian government. In addition to writing on the historical and linguistic backgrounds and events in this conflict, several contemporary anecdotal stories are included to humanize the case study and demonstrate the continuation of ethnic tensions into the present-day. 

After its completion, the case study has been included in the larger project as an entry on the project’s online encyclopedia, where it is written and displayed in an easily understood format to be accessible to the general public. I plan on aiding in the completion of two different case studies examining the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka, and the Biafran-Nigeria civil war in Nigeria this semester, continuing to improve my written communication, editing, and research skills.