The Arctic

In relation to the scientific community, the Arctic can historically be described as a land of discovery, where the explorers often ignored or denied the presence of indigenous peoples.32 While the early exploitation, starting in the 16th century was mainly aimed at tapping the vast natural living resources, the Arctic later also became a nationalistic icon in relation to southern nation states.33 Exploitation of resources also became a concern in relation to international governance. For example, the Arctic features one of the first international agreements to protect a threatened species; the 1911 Fur Seal Treaty between the United States and Russia was an effort to secure conditions that would allow a sustainable harvest. There were also early international regulatory efforts to protect musk ox in Greenland and reindeer on Spitsbergen, which were part of a wider movement of world-wide nature protection.34 Already before World War I, negotiations started to regulate both nature conservation and exploitation of natural resources on Spitsbergen, and these were very much guided by both economic and ideological nationalistic interests. After the war, the negotiations resulted in the Spitsbergen Treaty of 1921.35 In addition to the cooperation initiated from outside the Arctic, there are long traditions of cooperation across national borders among indigenous peoples. Borders were something imposed by the outside world, often creating artificial divisions among people in the region. This was the case in the Saami region of northern Fennoscandia and among peoples in the Bering Sea region.36

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