At the entrance of Kevo National Park, there’s a gurgling spring that spits out so much water — 400 liters per second, supposedly — that ice never manages to seal it off. (That’s a big deal in northern Finland.)
Though the local Sámi have long been Christian, it was still considered a sacred site, says Rauna Kuokkanen, an associate professor at the University of Toronto in political science and aboriginal studies.
She says the site used to be a secret. But around 2000, a foreign company approached the municipality with an offer: They wanted to set up a water bottling plant and ship the exotic spring water to thirsty Arab countries.
The incident revealed to her a lot of issues with Sámi self-governance in Sápmi, or northern Finland. She talks about the spring, being accused of paganism for trying to protect it, and about a book she’s working on about indigenous self-determination.