The Archives of a Protest Movement

The archives of the protest movement against the damming of the Alta-Kautokeino water system

Valuable information relating to Norway's most famous protest movement is stored in the museum's archive. The damming of the Alta-Kautokeino river system is the most controversial hydroelectric construction in Norway's history. The conflict started with opposition from the local community and conservation organizations around 1970 where protection of the unique salmon stock was a central question. It ended up being a question of the rights of the indigenous populations, both national and global.

Protester. Photo: The archives of the protest movement against the damming of the Alta-Kautokeino water system / Alta Museum

In 1993, Alta Museum was handed the archives of the movement's head office in Alta, thereby taking over responsibility for administering the contents. The archive is a mine of information and contains documents about the organization, declarations of support, reports, maps, financial accounts, photographs, printed material, newspaper cuttings and much more. Some of the material is from a separate sub-committee in Oslo.

The archive has been used for many purposes and is a valuable source of information about the Alta conflict. A number of institutions, both at home and abroad, have made use of the archive in their research programs. Parts of the archive have contained important data for a doctoral thesis at the University of Oslo (Øyvind Ihlen. Rhetoric and Resources in Public Relations Strategies: A Rhetorical and Sociological Analysis of Two Conflicts over Energy and the Environment. UiO: Oslo).

The museum has used the archive when producing an exhibition about important events in the last 100 years of Finnmark's history, as well as in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the breakup of the union with Sweden in 2005. The archive has also been important in our work with DKS (the Cultural School Rucksack). Since 2005, pupils in Year 6 in Alta schools have taken part in our teaching programme, bringing to life the events that unfolded during the Alta conflict through role-play.

Alfred Nilsen, leader of the popular protest movement.
Alfred Nilsen, leader of the protest movement against the damming of the Alta-Kautokeino water system Photo: The archives of the protest movement against the damming of the Alta-Kautokeino water system / Alta Museum

The archive is accessible to students, researchers and other interested parties who wish to immerse themselves in an important event in recent Norwegian history. The archive will be digitized in its entirety during 2019 and will eventually be published online. The paper archive is open to the public upon request, but due to the digitization process access to the archive will be limited during autumn 2019. Please contact curator Lena Karlstrøm by telephone + 47 94 89 95 73 or email leka@altamuseum.no