Difficult issues surrounding ownership of objects made by and for indigenous peoples have forced museums to rethink their functions and practices. Along with the decolonization of museums, these challenges have given rise to collaborations between conservators and source communities. This dissertation explores such a collaboration. An aim was to understand how material culture studies can be combined with analytical investigations and traditional preservation methods to treat two Sámi coffee bags that are owned by RiddoDuottarMuseat in Kautokeino (Finnmark). This work also aimed to reveal immaterial values associated with such objects and Sámi traditional knowledge that contribute to their long-term preservation.
The two coffee bags, called gáfeseahkkat (coffee bags), were examined first for mold and then studied visually to assess condition and production techniques. Laboratory-investigations were then conducted before interviews with duodji consultants, called duojárs. These interviews were crucial to the identification of materials that made up the bags. Duojárs also informed surface studies, fiber identification and the results for leather treatments obtained with Fourier transformed infrared (FTIR). The interviews also introduced new aspects regarding sensible objects and immaterial values, which highlighted the role of duodji in Sámi identity relations, as well as expectations for how duodji should be used. In total, the results from interviews and laboratory-based analytical work contributed to treatment decisions for the coffee bags. Furthermore, this work explored immaterial values associated with their making, use, reshaping and general cultural context. Together, this collaborative approach has led to new understandings of these Sámi objects.