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A Hand-drawn Map as a Decolonising Document

Hans Ragnar Mathisen, Rátkin IV, 1986, woodblock print, 80.2 × 96.2cm. Photograph: Børre Høstland. Courtesy the Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, Oslo and the artist
Maria Therese Stephansen positions Hans Ragnar Mathisen’s maps as counter-narratives that subvert official histories.Once again, perusing through a regional journal, I find a commentary questioning the Sami people’s right to call themselves indigenous. I feel like I have already read this a hundred times before. I start thinking about my grandfather. How he must have felt hiding his Sami roots. How it must have felt not being able to teach his daughter the language he had spoken as a child. The gas flame is burning bright at the gas plant on Melkøya, outside of Hammerfest, and the city is preparing for the big oil/gas industry conference Barentshavskonferansen. On my television I can follow the reindeer herd of the Sara family, minute by minute, as they approach the island of Fálá, in Hammerfest, for summer grazing. In a month, the journal will debate again how reindeer husbandry prevents the development of Finnmark. All is well in the colony.