– In the northernmost part of Norway, a Sámi community is fighting against a soon-to-be-opened “zero-emission” copper mine set to become one of the largest in Europe. The mine is to be dug on grazing land and will greatly affect Sámi families who have been using it for many centuries, possibly thousands of years.
– An international wind power consortium called “Fosen Vind” has set up 80 wind turbines in an area used as winter pastures by the southern Sámi. The consortium, founded by Credit Suisse, has appealed a Norwegian court’s ruling that sets at 90m NOK (10m USD) the compensation the Sámi are entitled to on losing that territory. The Norwegian government is siding with Fosen Vind in court.
What on Earth happened to article 108 of the Norwegian Constitution, saying that “the authorities of the State shall create conditions enabling the Sámi people to preserve and develop its language, culture and way of life”?
The Sámi have not given up their fight – rather the opposite. The new generations are proud of their identity: they keenly study the language they did not learn from their parents, whose own parents had concealed their origins and mingled with ethnic Norwegians after having been discriminated against for generations. Unsurprisingly, they wanted to give their children a better future, even though it meant living in self-denial.
In 1997, King Harald of Norway apologized in front of the Sami Parliament for the treatment they had been subjected to.
“The Norwegian state is founded on the territory of two peoples – Norwegians and Sami,” he said. “Sami history is closely intertwined with Norwegian history. Today we must apologize for the injustice the Norwegian state has previously inflicted on the Sami people through a harsh Norwegianisation policy.”
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission is currently investigating the past wrongs inflicted upon the natives, to lay the foundations for “greater equality between the majority and minority population”. A final report should be ready by the autumn of 2022.