Happy Sami National Day!


Since 1993, the Sami National Day has been celebrated on February 6th, in recognition of the first larger ‘national’ Sami political gathering held on that day in Trondheim, Southern Norway, in 1917. Following others, the modern Sami movement has adopted the key symbols of a nation – national day, flag and national anthem, all considered major achievements for the Sami people. Interestingly, a recent tradition of the Sami national day seems to have become a public declaration by various Sami leaders that the Sami are not seeking an independent nationhood. Last year this occured at a conference on Sami self-determination held in Alta, northern Norway. It was uttered in unison by the president of the Norwegian Sami Parliament and the State Secretary of Sami Affairs in Norway and published as a big headline in the newly established Sami newspaper Ávvir. Many of us wondered, apropos of what? Nobody even talks about the Sami nation (the Sami people, yes, but not a nation). Especially politicians never dare to go there – political suicide perhaps? I guess we are happy to have our national day and flag and sing the national anthem once a year.

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Al Gore, the Sami and Bali

On Monday Al Gore was in Oslo to receive his share of the Nobel Peace Prize. He didn’t arrive in a limo but on the fast train from the airport like the rest of us. It’s cheap, quick and most important these days, climate friendly. At the press conference, Gore pointed out that the Sami and other indigenous peoples, especially in the Arctic, who live off the land see the catastrophic effects of climate change better than most others. Therefore, the Sami and other indigenous peoples should be able to open the eyes of the rest of the world to the reality of climate change and take action. Gore was backed by Rajendra K. Pachauri, the head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who encouraged the Sami, together with other indigenous peoples, use all their power to warn the world about the consequences of the climate change.

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