Located inside the Arctic Circle in northern Norway, the Alta River runs through the reindeer herding grounds of the indigenous Saami people. In 1970, the Norwegian Water Resources and Electricity Board proposed a hydroelectric dam on the river. The proposed dam, which would have completely submerged the Saami village of Masi and interrupted reindeer migration routes, was only the latest affront in a long history of Norway’s marginalization of its indigenous peoples.
Norway was invaded by the Nazis on April 9, 1940. Within two months, the Nazis had crushed Norwegian military resistance and installed a puppet government. Norwegians responded to the occupation of their country both nonviolently and violently. Because of the unprovoked aggression that the Nazis unleashed upon them, many Norwegians felt that all forms of resistance were fully legitimate. However, most saw nonviolent resistance as the only practical option, given the massive military advantage of the occupying military forces.