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So here's a question my kids have asked that I wasn't sure how to answer - have at it, internet.

Spoilers to follow.

In Frozen 2, Anna and Elsa's grandfather (King Runeard) builds a dam as a "gift" for the Northuldra people. He sells it as something to bring prosperity to their lands - but it is later revealed that the dam is a ruse, intended to weaken the Northuldra people and make them dependent on Arendelle.

Now I completely get the colonialism aspects of it, and understand it as a plot device, but the part I couldn't answer is - Why is the dam (secretly) a detriment to the Northuldra people?

I don't fully remember the conversation between King Runeard and the Northuldra Leader he attacks when his ruse is discovered, so it's possible the answer lies there, but my memory is that it was spoken in fairly vague terms.

To speculate, I can understand that in building the dam, a large amount of land would be inundated, but if the Northuldra lost prime agricultural land during the construction, that would not go unnoticed. Likewise, if the inundation of land and destruction of habitat offended the spirits of the land, that would become evident very quickly. And in all scenarios I can think of, there's a significant risk to Arendelle - if anything ever happens to the dam, unless there's an all-powerful ice queen to prevent it, Arendelle gets destroyed.

So am I missing something, or is the dam really just a convenient expression of the colonialism/reparation storyline?

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The dam reduces the water flow and hurts the forest so it weakens the resources of Northuldra people. The Northuldra people initially thought that the dam will strengthen the waters.

Here is the relevant script from the movie:

"You see, the dam will weaken their lands, so they will have to turn to me. They will come in celebration, and then we will know their size and strength."
―Runeard plotting against the Northuldrans


"King Runeard, the Dam isn't strengthening our waters, it's hurting the forest. It's cutting off the North..."
―the Northuldra leader talking to Runeard

Transcript link: https://transcripts.fandom.com/wiki/Frozen_II

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