Today is the national day of the Sámi, a Nordic indigenous people who are severely affected by many injustices – and climate change is one of them. Winter weather conditions are no longer predictable according to Sámi traditional knowledge, and their culture and lifestyle is under threat.
However, many Sámi are Idle No More. Today, a manifesto calling for environmental justice was handed over to a Swedish minister during a performance. A Sámi woman, Mimie Märak cut her hair off to show grief for how we treat “eanan” – Mother Earth. Indigenous people all over the world are leading the way in this fight for justice.
The Sami people (also Sámi or Saami), traditionally known in English as Lapps or Laplanders, are an indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the Arctic area of Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Kola Peninsula ofRussia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sami are the only indigenous people of Scandinaviarecognized and protected under the international conventions of indigenous peoples, and are hence the northernmost indigenous people of Europe. Sami ancestral lands span an area of approximately 388,350 km2 (150,000 sq. mi.), which is approximately the size of Norway, in the Nordic countries. Their traditional languages are the Sami languages and are classified as a branch of the Uraliclanguage family.
Traditionally, the Sami have pursued a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping, and sheep herding. Their best-known means of livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding. Currently about 10% of the Sami are connected to reindeer herding and 2,800 are actively involved in herding on a full-time basis. For traditional, environmental, cultural and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sami people in certain regions of the Nordic countries
Discrimination against the Sami
The Sami have for centuries been the subject of discrimination and abuse by the dominant cultures claiming possession of their lands right unto the present day. They have never been a single community in a single region of Lapland, which until recently was considered only a cultural region. Yet to this day, Sami are being forced to choose the specific identity of the country within whose declared borders the Samis’ land lies and adopt that country’s values at the expense of Sami culture.
Idle No More and Defenders of the Land, a network of Indigenous communities in land struggle, have joined together to issue this common call for escalating action. Our message is clear and in accordance with the principles of coexistence and mutual respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples