The Sámi National Day is celebrated each year on 6 February. In light of this, the focus of this evening’s Skogen discussion is Sámi identity and its relationship with nature.
Traditional Sámi lifestyle has always been strongly associated with nature. The same is true of Sámi language and culture. But what happens when a Sámi settles in a city, losing sme of their contact with nature and their origins? Can Sámi language and culture survive urbanisation, or does it ultimately weaken and disappear? And what impact is the climate crisis having on the Sámi’s ability to continue living as part of nature and making their livelihood from it?
Aslak Paltto is a Sámi who was born and lives in the municipality of Inari in northernmost Finland. He’s a reindeer herder, documentary filmmaker, and journalist, working as an editor at YLE Sapmi. He has a special interest in sport and also works as a coach and commentator. His documentary film “Poromiehen silmin” was released in 2019.
Magne Ove Varsi is a Sámi from the Tana valley, now living in Dröbak in southern Norway. He has a long career behind him as a journalist, writer, moderator, and translator. He co-founded the Sámi Journalists’ Association and the journalism course at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Kautokeino, where he also taught. Varsi specialises in legal issues and has actively campaigned for Sámi rights through a variety of assignments. In recent years, he has also performed traditional Sámi joik.
The discussion will be moderated by Dr Lia Markelin who is a social analyst at the think tank Magma. From 2009 to 2018, she was employed part time as an assistant professor at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Kautokeino, Norway. Markelin has researched areas such as the state of the Sámi media in the Nordic Region in relation to the countries’ policies for media and indigenous peoples and the policy for indigenous peoples in Finland. She is from southern Finland and has no Sámi roots.