Arctic Frontiers 2020, opening speech

Arctic Frontiers 2020, opening speech, president Ms. Aili Keskitalo, Sámi Parliament in Norway, 27th of January, Romsa: 

Ođas | Almmuhuvvon

Buorre iđit, ráhkis árktalaš guovllu verddet!  
Good morning, dear friends of the Arctic!

It is a pleasure to welcome all of you to Sápmi, the homeland of the Sámi people. On behalf of the Sámi Parliament, I especially like to welcome our Indigenous sisters and brothers to join us her in Romsa this week. According to the Sami origin story, we are the sons and daughters of the sun. The return of our father, the sun, and the transition towards the nightless nights of the Arctic summer gives reassurance. It is a time to be grateful, and hopeful for the future.

It is so important to never forget where we came from. Where our roots belong. I would like to share with you some lyrics from the Sámi rap artist Áilu Valle.

Mun in dárbbaš dáid sániid go oainnán duoddára. (I need no words when I see the tundra.)

His song Suotnjárat Beaivváža (The Rays of the Sun) explores the links between Indigenous knowledge, culture and nature. The sight of our ancestral lands can be overwhelming and humbling, and yet our languages ties everything together.

Our tundra is changing. It is growing trees where there should be none. Sometime in the future, we might not recognize our treeless mountain plains anymore. The only memory we might have left, is the word itself duottar, the tundra. The memory of our lands embedded in the languages. It is both sad and beautiful to reflect on how our languages are mirrors of the world we live in.

The themes in this year program goes straight to the heart of the future of our unique cultures, languages and communities. The word we use for Sámi knowledge is árbediehtu. Literally it means “inherited knowledge”. Árbediehtu is the collective wisdom and skills of the Sámi people used to enhance our livelihood for centuries. It has been passed down from generation to generation both orally and through work and practical experience. Through this continuity, the concept of árbediehtu ties the past, present and future together.We have also the concept of birgejupmi, a Sámi term for life sustenance, livelihood, in the spheres of economy and social life. Birgejupmi is to be understood as survival capacity, how to maintain yourself in a certain area with its respective resources. It requires know-how, skills, resourcefulness, reflexivity, professional and social competence. It ties together people and communities, landscape and natural environment, the ecosystem, healthy social and spiritual development, and identity. It is also a term that connects to a core Sami value – to not overindulge.

That is truly a message for the future.

More rapid changes in society-at-large, the environment and the climate have led to more pressure on the planet, while increasing the demand for Indigenous knowledge. We still have the power of knowledge to live in harmony with the nature.

With these words I wish us the best with Arctic Frontiers 2020.

Ollu giitu – Thank You!

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