Posts Tagged ‘indigenous’

Sami reindeer-herders in Sweden can sue the state

February 26, 2011
Friday february 18. 2011, original article here
Renskiljning i Mellanbyns sameby i Norrbotten. Foto: Anders Wiklund/Scanpix.

A district court in northern Sweden has ruled there is no reason why indigenous Samis there cannot sue the Swedish state for infringing on their fishing and hunting rights.

The court rejected the argument of state lawyers that there were legal errors in the suit. The Sami parliament, which has only advisory powers, had argued that the Sami people should have a major influence over fishing and hunting rights, rather than the Swedish state.

Speaking with Swedish Radio, Mattias Åhrén of the Sami Council, the organization representing the Samis across the Nordic region, says the ruling will have a major impact.

Nordic Council, EU and Russia meet to tackle development issues in the Arctic and Barents region

February 20, 2011

Feb 17, 2011 Original article here

The Nordic and Baltic countries meet February 22 with Russia and the EU, as well as representatives from the Arctic and Barents regions, to tackle issues such as the pollution of the Baltic Sea, improvement of the Northern Axis transportation corridor linking Europe and Asia, as well as energy policy and other matters of common concern.

Politicians from the Nordic and Baltic region as well as the Arctic and Barents area meet with representatives from the Russian Duma and the European Parliament for the second Northern Dimension Parliamentary Forum on February 22-23.

The Forum will take place in Tromsø, Norway and is hosted by the Norwegian Parliament.

Politicians present include representatives of the Saami population and the indigenous peoples of the Arctic region.

The Northern Dimension Partnership includes four pillars: environmental issues, health and social issues, transport and culture.

Negotiations will take place in all four areas, resulting in policy recommendations for the relevant national governments of all the parties involved.

The first Northern Dimension Parliamentary Forum was hosted by the European Parliament in 2009. The Forum has been instituted to improve cooperation and development in Northern Europe and the Arctic.

More information

For accreditation and news services contact:

Thomas Fraser +47 40 45 54 50


UN report calls for Sami language boost

January 25, 2011  18 January 2011
Original article here

A UN report examining the human rights situation of Sami people in Sweden, Finland and Norway calls on the Nordic states to provide Sami parliaments with more funding to help boost general knowledge of the  indigenous Arctic people, their language and their culture.


Minority languages in Europe are protected by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which was adopted by the Council of Europe in June 1992 and came into force in 1998.

It seeks to promote threatened languages as part of Europe’s cultural heritage and facilitate their use in daily life.

Article 22 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights states that “the Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity”.


The report notes that overall, each of the Nordic countries pays a high level of attention to indigenous issues, but that more remains to be done to ensure that the Sami enjoy the full range of rights that are guaranteed to indigenous peoples.

Drafted by the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, the report pays particular attention to efforts “to revitalise Sami languages and provide children and youth of that minority with an appropriate education”.

The special rapporteur calls on Nordic countries to provide “immediate and adequate funding” to Sami parliaments to assist in the implementation of concerted measures toward these ends.

In parallel, Anaya suggests that “the states and the Sami parliaments should cooperate to develop and implement measures to increase awareness about the Sami people within the media and the public at large,” including in school curricula.

According to the report, the media often portray Sami stereotypes, which contribute to their negative image in society. The Sami people – estimated to number 70,000 to 100,000 – traditionally inhabit a territory spanning the northernmost parts of Europe, including Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

Despite national borders, they continue to exist as one people, united by cultural and linguistic bonds and a common identity. There are nine language groups divided across national borders, but the UN report notes that the wide variety of Sami languages is actually decreasing.

Sami people do not generally speak the language outside home and those who do speak it are spread out over large areas, contributing to the loss of their linguistic heritage.

Access to services

UN rapporteur Anaya notes that unlike Norway and Finland, there is no legislation in Sweden that specifically protects the Sami language.

In Sweden, the language is granted special protection within certain designated “administrative areas,” but the municipalities that make up the Sami administrative area have difficulty complying with their obligations “due to a lack of Sami-speaking staff and a reported negative public attitude towards the minority”.

While the Finnish Constitution guarantees the rights of Sami people to maintain and develop their own language and culture, “as a practical matter, these legal protections are not implemented, due in a large part to the lack of knowledge of municipal and national state authorities in Sami languages”.

Even within the Sami heartland in Finland, access to social and healthcare services in the Sami language is described “as a matter of chance”.


One common feature in all Nordic countries is that Sami students may study in the Sami language within designated Sami areas, which are defined by law. But the problem, notes Anaya, is that some 50% of Sami people, and 70% of children under the age of 10, live outside these areas.

The fragmentation of Sami settlements and a shortage of teachers present a problem for education in the Sami language and culture, and there is also a shortage of education materials.

And while some measures have been taken to facilitate long-distance learning, at least in Finland, these programmes have experienced problems, primarily due to a lack of funding, according to the report.

Towards a Saami Assembly in Russia

December 5, 2010
26-11-2010 Christina Henriksen
Barents Indigenous, original article here

On December 12, the delegates of the Second Saami Congress might elect the First Saami Assembly of the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast, Russia. Delegates representing the Saami inhabitants of Murmansk Oblast will gather in Murmansk, as they did in Olenegorsk in 2008, when the Council of Authorized Representatives of the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast (referred to as SUPS MO – Совет Уполномоченных представителей Саамов Мурманской Област) was elected by altogether 72 delegates.

Representatives of the Saami people in Russia have been working towards their goal for since 1992, and the establishment of the Saami Parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland has certainly set out the grounds for this work. The political cooperation between the Saami in the Nordic countries and the Saami in Russia is strong. It is formalized through the participation in the Saami Parliamentary Council, in which the Saami Parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland are represented, and representatives for the Saami non-governmental organizations in Russia are permanent observers. The Presidents of the Saami Parliaments in Norway and Finland, as well as representatives from the Saami Parliament in Sweden, took part in the First Saami Congress in 2008.

In 2008, the 72 delegates gathered in Olenegorsk elected Valentina V. Sovkina as the Head of the SUPS MO, which consists of 11 representatives. SUPS MO has led the work towards the establishment of a democratically elected Saami Assembly since the Congress. Human rights, reindeer husbandry, management of fishing quotas and codetermination in issues concerning the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast are the main issues for the SUPS MO.

The Regional Administration of Murmansk Oblast participated in the First Saami Congress in Olenegorsk, and the Regional Government of Murmansk Oblast established a separate Council of Representatives of Indigenous Peoples at the Government of Murmansk Oblast. This Council is led by the First vice Governor of Murmansk Oblast and consists of altogether 11 persons, representing various obshina communities and the Regional Public Chamber, appointed by the Regional Government.

The President of the Saami Parliament in Norway, Egil Olli, will take part in the Second Saami Congress in Murmansk, together with the Chair of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region.  Other guests from Saami institutions and organizations in the Nordic countries are also expected as observers to the congress.

Program for the Second Saami Congress in Murmansk Oblast:

December 11th:

13.00    Hoisting of the Saami flag

14.00    Opening of exhibition at Murmansk Regional Museum of Local History

16.00    Concert with Saami ensembles

December 12th:

09.00    The Second Saami Congress, Hotel Park Inn Poliarnie Zori, Murmansk

UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014

November 24, 2010

UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014


On Tuesday 16 November the Third Committee of the General Assembly adopted a resolution on indigenous peoples’ issues.

In this resolution, the General Assembly decides to organize a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014.


The General Assembly decided to organize a World conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014, aiming at sharing perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples. The conference will also seek to pursue the objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The President of the General Assembly is invited to conduct open-ended consultations with member states peoples’ representatives in the framework of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, as well as with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur in order to determine the modalities for the meeting, including indigenous peoples’ participation at the conference.

At the same time, the General Assembly encouraged states who have not yet ratified or acceded to the ILO Convention No 169 (the International Labour Organization Convention concerhning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries), to do so and to consider supporting the UNDRIP (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).

Read more here.

via Barents Indigenous Peoples : UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014.

NRK does it again: Fake nudity and conflict in reality series with indigenous tribes

August 18, 2010

NRK, the norwegian state channel does it again: They send redneck norwegian families to live with tribes in Africa and South America to make a reality TV show. The tribes are instructed to wear penis sheaths and be topless, contrary to how they would normally dress, to make the TV images more exciting.

The norwegian participants are hand-picked for ignorance of foreign cultures and contrast in lifestyle. They are not allowed to have translators, which makes for a lot of confusing situations with the visited tribes.

Edited together back in the west, with plenty of breast and penis shots, Norwegian viewers can view with horror the “primitive” lifestyles of indegineous tribes.

This is not a culture exhange, it is pure exploitation. How about making a TV show about how these tribes actually live, and what we might learn from them? Don’t send the most ignorant norwegians there to complain about lack of makeup and fitness centers and Ipods, please!

NRK, we expect better from you – and the people of Norway pay for you to make this crap!

That said, the NRK channels are commercial-free, and they do produce some very good programs. The state-run Norwegian TV and Radio institution has mainly followed the great educational tradition of the BBC. This year the NRK celebrate it’s 50-year jubilee -to bad it has to taint their mostly excellent legacy with this crap!

Jonas Qvale/Hornorkesteret

Today’s NRK article on the current season of the series that start this fall:

My old post about this abomination from last season of the show:

Inuit need greater role in protecting Arctic: Committee

June 18, 2010

By Juliet O’Neill, Canwest News Service June 17, 2010

An all-party report expressed "concern" that Indigenous peoples have not been accorded proper recognition for their historic role in helping ensure Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic by living in the region. Photograph by: Ed Struzik,

OTTAWA — The government should get cracking on implementing Nunavut land claims and involving Indigenous peoples more in protecting Arctic sovereignty, the House of Commons defence committee said Thursday.

An all-party report expressed “concern” that Indigenous peoples have not been accorded proper recognition for their historic role in helping ensure Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic by living in the region.

“The assertion that our sovereignty depends largely on Inuit occupation of the region are a bit hollow if we continue to lag on our commitments to the Inuit and prolong the failure to implement the Nunavut land claims agreement,” Jack Harris, New Democratic Party defence critic, said at a news conference by committee members.

The MPs also recommended the Arctic Council should be strengthened, the government should re-establish the office of Arctic ambassador, create a cabinet committee on Arctic affairs and give priority to resolving a dispute over the Beaufort Sea with the United States.

The report generally supported the broad direction of government policy but chair Maxime Bernier said the recommendations aim to ensure Canada has the right tools. While the committee concluded the Canadian Forces are equipped to defend the region, it was concerned the building of Arctic patrol ships and the icebreaker John G. Diefenbaker are falling significantly behind schedule.

The committee recommended the government make development and long-term maintenance of viable Indigenous communities a priority and ensure that the Inuit be included in Northern environment scientific projects.

“It is especially important that Canada’s Indigenous peoples be an integral part of any decision making process affecting policies regarding the Arctic,” the report said. “In line with this, we believe it important that outstanding land claims in the region be settled quickly.”

Harris issued a supplementary report emphasizing the long-stalled process of implementing the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

“After 17 years, only 50 per cent of the agreement has been implemented,” he said, citing provision of educational services as a key to the future of Nunavut’s ability to run its own affairs and participate in national and international decision making about the Arctic.

“We must stress the importance and urgency for the government of Canada to fulfil its obligations to our indigenous partners in the Arctic.”

The committee heard testimony that a dispute resolution mechanism in the agreement was not working and Inuit leader Mary Simon had told the committee that “along with the building of military infrastructure in the region we also need to build sustainable communities.”

The committee said “Canada’s legal title to its Arctic territories is well established” and there is no immediate military threat to Canadian territories either in or “through” the Arctic. But it said that “given the increased interest and anticipated activity in the Arctic, Canada needs to increase its ‘presence’ in the region.”

Meanwhile, Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces’ summer Arctic sovereignty exercise, moves north of the Arctic Circle for the first time this summer, and in a twist will include ships from the Danish and American navies, plus a ship and dive team from the United States Coast Guard.

The participation by the Danes and Americans is notable for a Canadian sovereignty exercise, since Canada has lingering offshore boundary disputes with both Denmark and the U.S.

With a file from the Nunatsiaq News

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
Original article here

Ánde Somby performed wolf-joik at Malcom McLarens funeral

April 28, 2010

Ánde Somby wearing a green traditional gakti from Buolbmát (Polmak). It is from 1840 - before the famous preacher Lestadius got his breakthrough and made the Sami designs very spartanic.

A young Ánde Somby might already have heard The Sex Pistols when he performed at the Jokkmokk Festival in 1976.

Sami joik singer Ánde Somby (51, Norway) performed a version of the “Wolf joik” at Malcolm McLarens funeral in London April 22nd. About 400 people attended the closed ceremony at One Marleybone Curch in London.

McLaren, sometimes called “The Godfather of Punk”, invented and managed the popular punk band The Sex Pistols. He managed and produced many other bands before and after the Pistols, and he worked with film, visual art and fashion, his main point of entry to pop culture. He had a rare grip on media spin and a keen sense for picking out important undercurrents in culture.

“Bob Geldof jumped in his seat when I started my wolf joik. It is quite moving once it gets started.” Somby told Dagbladet.

A joik is not a song but a resonant melodic phrase, sung unaccompanied and repeated through various iterations with no fixed beginning or end. Traditionally utilised to induce a trance state in Sami shamans, it is a music essentially animist in nature. Joiks are not sung about something but considered a rhythmic signifier of the actual thing itself, be it a place, an event, a family member, associate or an animal, especially reindeer.

“My wolf joik fitted the circumstances quite well, as Malcolm McLaren was, in the best sense of the word, a wolf-like artist.” Somby said.

Somby was personally invited by Vivienne Westwood and McLarens son Joseph Corré to perform in the church ceremony before McLarens coffin was paraded through London to High Gate Cemetery.

Ánde Somby holds a post doctoral sholarship at the Law faculty at Tromsö University and sometimes practises as a legal professional outside the University. He has been an active joik performer since 1974, and has worked on albums with Inga Juusso and Nils Porsanger. His website has information about joik and Sami culture, and links to sound samples of different joiks, including the wolf joik. Read his terms of use and proceed to the joik samples here.

Rebels WITH a cause

Though no longer politically active, Ánde Somby once fronted young Sami activists “Samefront” (Sami Front) or ČSV for an interview with national newspaper VG in 1976. The letters ČSV (meaning “show Sami strength”) were understood in the press at the time to be an equivalent to AIM (American Indian Movement).

A young radical Ánde Somby in 1976. Fuelled, perhaps, by the energy of punk?

Official Norway had nearly wiped out Sami culture and treated Sami people like second-rate citizens, much like the authorities in the United States and Canada did to the American Indians and Inuits, but in the seventies a new cultural awareness was growing. Fuelled by the general civil rights movement of the late sixties and early seventies, but no doubt also by the energy of punk, young Samis picked up forbidden and forgotten cultural traditions and demanded actual rights to decide over their land. This movement culminated in the Alta Dam demonstrations 1979-81 where the whole norwegian environmental movement joined them and united over a common cause. The demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience were widely publicized and for the first time since the German occupation during World War II, Norwegians were arrested charged with violating laws “against rioting”. The hunger strikers in front of the parliament in the capital included Ándes brother Niillas Somby. People from all over Norway, including prominent intellectual figures, chained themselves to construction equipment in Alta to halt the proceedings. The demonstrations put the rights of Sami people to their lands on the national political agenda, even if the supreme court finally ruled the development of the Alta River legal in 1982 and construction started again.

When all was lost after the supreme court ruling, Niillas Somby and two other men decided to sabotage the construction of the dam with dynamite, but a faulty timing device set off the dynamite prematurely. Niillas Somby lost his arm and damaged an eye, and was initially charged with homicidal arson looking at a penalty of up to 21 years, even though the sabotage was to an uninhabited construction site. On leave from prison he escaped to Canada where he was adopted by the Nuxalk Nation in British Columbia. He was expelled from Canada in 1985 to serve a five month sentence for the sabotage.

Fittingly, McLarens final words were said to be “Free Leonard Peltier”. Leonard Peltier (born September 12, 1944) is an American activist and member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) who was convicted and sentenced in 1977 to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the murder of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents during a 1975 shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Jonas Qvale/Hornorkesteret

NRK dropped their standards: “Naked bluff” on Primetime TV

April 19, 2010

Hornorkesteret: I know this is old, but shame on you, NRK! This is not what we wanted from a license- and state funded national broadcasting corporation. The naive and racist view presented in this show is old fashioned and should be long forgotten. Why don’t you make a program about how the Waorani actually live, and leave the stupid westerners on their couches in Norway!

Gáldu – Resource Centre for the Rights of Indegenous People
— According to Ny Tid newspaper, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation paid money to Waorani-tribe in Ecuador that they must be naked during the filming.

NRK or Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation is now sending every Saturday evening a program called “Den store reisen” or “Ticket to the tribes”. Three different Norwegian families are visiting indigenous tribes in Namibia, Indonesia and Ecuador.
More than 800 000 people did watch this program last Saturday primetime and now the NRK admit that they have paid this indigenous group to be naked on TV.

NRK now admits that they paid money to the Waorani Indigenous tribe to appear without clothes while they recorded this primetime TV.

Watch the program here on NRK

This is Saturday entertainment for Norwegian TV viewers.

The Indians remove their clothes to work on the set, according to the anthropologist Laura Rival from the Centre for International Development at Oxford University.

She has studied the Waorani tribe since 1989 and was in the village of Banemo when the Belgian version of the series was recorded.

“The Waorani take their clothes off just for these programmes. I know them. They never walk around naked in groups any longer, it’s only for tourists and reality shows,” she says.

“The Waorani go around naked. The men’s penises are tied to their bodies with string,” says NRK’s website in a section on the tribe’s rules and way of life. In the TV series, on the website and in the promotional pictures all the Indians are completely naked.

“This has been staged,” said Rival on seeing NRK’s group picture of the extended family without clothes.

She recognised the NRK’s Waorani from the Belgian production and can name the adults in the picture. According to Rival, they are used to performing role plays for TV production units in the area.

NRK admits that the tribe was asked to remove its clothes.

“We don’t ask that they wear European clothes. The tribe agreed to live in a more traditional way while we are filming, but they are the ones who decide what will be shown. It is important to be clear that they collaborate with us freely. We pay them to take part,” says NRK’s production manager Per Selstrøm.

The producer in charge from the production company Strix, Malin Østli, does not recognise Rival’s description of life in Banemo:

“We flew up the Amazon for an hour and a half and saw no indication of people living in a western manner. That they have seen white people before and been in contact with the outside world is totally natural, since they live next to an airstrip. Some of them wear T-shirts every day, but most are naked and have a completely traditional lifestyle.”

Are there usually people living in the house where you filmed?

“Not everyone we filmed usually lives in the house. We made the family bigger to include more characters and decided to have slightly more people in the house than those who are normally there to get more life. They traditionally live in an extended family, so it wasn’t entirely unnatural. Everyone lived there during the recordings and it was real everyday life for people in the area that we visited,” declares Østli.

The Waorani have taken part in a large number of reality programmes. The BBC’s Tribal Wives and several countries’ versions of Ticket to the Tribes were filmed in the area.

“It’s not intended as a “Fly on the Wall” documentary. It is a kind of staged documentary to bring out their differences and make it more thought-provoking, a collision between two very different ways of life,” explains Selstrøm.

Aren’t you showing the tribes as more primitive than they actually are?

“Not in my view. Is dress about primitiveness? When Norwegian Lapps want to sell souvenirs at North Cape, they wear their traditional costumes.”

Isn’t NRK going too far in describing them as a “primitive tribal community”?

“Perhaps we should have weighed each word more carefully, but I would urge people to watch the whole series. It finishes with one of the Waorani boys going to school,” says Selstrøm.

Playing a role

The anthropologist Laura Rival compares the Indians’ role in the Belgian TV production that she observed with the role of an actor:

“They took their clothes and went to work in the newly built house. Then they put their clothes on again and returned to their normal complex lives. This could be compared with a job in which they have a uniform and put on a performance for the tourists.”

In her view, reality programmes give a superficial picture of the Indians’ complex lives, in which they balance tradition and modernity in a globalised world.

Says Rival, “These programmes are built on the same ideas that the west has had for 400-500 years: find the last people in the wild and live with them. The TV companies are only interested in recreating western myths. This is very patronising and gives a false idea of their differences”.

Updated 19.09.2008
Published by: Liv Inger Somby