The Saami People
The Saami People are the Indigenous peoples in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, also known as first people, aboriginal people, native people, or autochthonous people or just Laplanders.
Who came first to Lapland?
In the 1600s came the first scriptures out with theories of Saami origin. Now today in year 2017 is the Saami origin a controversial issue in northern Scandinavia. Mainly the debate about Saami origin has very much to do with international law.
The Saami origin has become a hot issue in the newspapers of northern Sweden
Saami origin has in the 2000s become a hot issue in the newspapers of northern Sweden. Regularly there are letters to the editor questioning if the Saami were the first in Lapland and when they immigrated to “Sweden”. Quite often the debate about the origin of the Saami People in Sweden has a racist content. The debate about Saami origin is based only on assumptions and speculations without facts.
The Saami as an indigenous people
Now it should be mentioned that the term “indigenous peoples” in international law has nothing to do with where an indigenous peoples came from, their origin or who came first! However, the new concept of “indigenous people” in international law has started a hot discussion of Saami origin.
“Indigenous” is a legal concept in international law and essentially means that a people existed in a nation-state before the national boundaries of the state were drawn up. Those who wish to challenge the Saami as an indigenous people must therefore question whether there was Saami before Sweden’s oldest land border in 1752. Believe it or not? However, there are those who do it! Just open the pages of letters to the editor in newspapers in northern Sweden and you are surprised regularly. Question is if the education system and schools failed in the education of who the Saami is? The information about the Saami is very limited in Swedish schools?
An official definition of “indigenous” has not been adopted by the UN system due to the diversity of the world’s indigenous peoples. Instead, a modern and inclusive understanding of “indigenous” has been developed and includes peoples who:
- Identify themselves and are recognized and accepted by their community as indigenous.
- Demonstrate historical continuity with pre-colonial and/or pre-settler societies.
- Have strong links to territories and surrounding natural resources.
- Have distinct social, economic or political systems.
- Maintain distinct languages, cultures and beliefs.
- Form non-dominant groups of society.
- Resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities.
Now it should be mentioned that the UN rapporteur on indigenous peoples, José Martínez Cobo, in his final reports to the United Nations in 1981 ( 30 July 1981E / CN.4 / Sub.2 / 476 ), 1982 ( 10 August 1982E / CN.4 / Sub.2 / 1982/2 ) and 1983 ( 5 August 1983E / CN.4 / Sub.2 / 1983/21 ) uses several definitions of indigenous people.
The English words “Indigenous People” in ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration of Indigenous People has by the Swedish Foreign Ministry initially translated with the word “Urbefolkning” (Indigenous Population) and then later to “Urfolk” (Indigenous People). Something that increased the confusion. (The word “Ur” or “Ursprunglig) in Swedish is related to the English word “Orginal” or “first”). So, the problem is also a translation problem.
The Saami as a national minority
The Convention of Council of Europe on National Minorities has nothing of minority origin to do. National minorities in Sweden, according to the parliamentary decision, are the ethnic groups that existed in Sweden before World War II. Those who wish to challenge Saami as a national minority have therefore to prove whether it was Saami in Sweden before World War II, ie before 1940, or not!
Blog Question – Can racism be met with knowledge?
In this blog I will try to address ignorance about the Saami history with knowledge. Or maybe it is not possible to face the ignorance with knowledge when we talk about racism?
Blog in English: saamihistoryblog.wordpress.com
Blog in Swedish: www.samiskhistorieblogg.wordpress.com
Guhkkin davvin Dávggáid vuolde sabmá suolggai Sámieanan