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Swedish enforcers burn down Sami 'kåta' teepee

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Swedish enforcers burn down Sami 'kåta' teepee
Protesters raised a Sami flag in front of the burning structure. Photo: Hunting and Fishing Samis
16:11 CEST+02:00
Swedish government enforcement officers have been accused of "colonial abuse" after they burnt down a traditionally Sami ‘kåta’.
Officers from Sweden’s Enforcement agency at lunchtime on Wednesday poured kerosene all over the structure, which is similar to a North American teepee, and then set it on fire.
 
"I feel miserable, sad and mortified all at the same time," Anita Gimvall, the owner of the dwelling told Swedish Radio. "It's completely crazy. I’m surprised how many police have come here to get rid of me." 
 
The destruction of the dwelling could mark the end of Gimvall’s six-year battle with the local Västerbotten County Council, who since 2010 had maintained that the kåta was an illegal new building. 
 
She claims that even though she erected a new structure in 2010, a similar dwelling had been on the site for 120 years. 
 
"I consider that I have a right to that place. My family have been there for generations," she said, adding that she intended to return to the site one day to build a new kåta. 
 
Håkan Jonsson, chairman of the Hunting and Fishing Samis, the largest party in the Sami parliament, came to protest the destruction of the dwelling. 
 
"It's very sad and horrible for Anita, but I think this can be something good in the future," he told The Local. "Every newspaper in Sweden and a lot of TV channels were there. So I think the Swedish government have had a pyrrhic victory. I hope so anyway." 
 
Jonsson said that Sweden had only granted land rights to the roughly 5,000 Sami who own reindeer, and that the destruction was intended to prevent the other 15,000 staking historic claims. 
 
"They know the reindeer herders are a small group and they can give them money. But if all Sami people had the right to have their ancient places it will be 20,000 Sami people they have to negotiate with," he said. 
 
"The Swedish government want to make an example of her, that if you try to restore Sami buildings, you will not be allowed to," he said. I thought that in the end they would take a step back and say to Anita 'you can have your kåta'. It's unbelievable." 
 
"A shameful day for Sweden!" the party wrote in a post showing the blaze on their Facebook page. 
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