New President of the Sámi Parliament on Sámi agitation: “It eats up the soul”

Silje Karine Muotka will be the new Sámi Parliament president when the Sámi Parliament is constituted on Thursday. Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB
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“Sámi agitation is socially destructive,” said Sámi President Silje Karine Muotka.

Work against agitation was mentioned first in a declaration from the new Sámi Parliamentary Council.

“In social media and on various platforms, it can unfold very freely,” said Muotka (NSR) to NTB.

Last week, the 9th Sami Parliament was constituted and Muotka was elected the new president. One of the main issues she promises to work on a Sámi agitation:

“It simply creates a lot of negative energies. They lie in the structure of society and in interpersonal encounters, and it eats up the soul, one might say.”

The new president of the Sámi Parliament has felt it herself.

“I think everyone who has been involved in Sámi politics has experienced it to some degree. But it worries me much more that ordinary Sámi people experience it. This applies to children and young people, it applies to traders in reindeer husbandry and other primary industries. This is simply devastating to society,” she said.

“It hurts”

Muotka believes that the problem is still very strongly present in 2021.

She referred to an incident in Alta earlier this autumn. Social media flooded with provocative and threatening comments against Sámi people after a reindeer herder was reported for having shot a dog, according to NRK.

“It is a case that is being investigated by the police, but it is the aftermath of it on social media that has surprised me. It had a tremendous intensity and scope, says the Sámi Parliament president.

In response to the question “What have you seen on social media?”, Muotka answered:

“It’s very serious. There are threats, stigmatization of an entire ethnic group, very serious comments.”

To the question “What do you think when you read such things?”, she said:

“It hurts. But I’m thinking mostly of the rising generation. It is not easy to go to school and face this, because what we see on social media is just a small part of what also happens in the schoolyard and in the workplace.”

Bringing out the best in each other

In the Beaiveálgu Declaration, a document of accession to the new Sámi Parliamentary Council, the first paragraph is devoted to Sámi agitation.

“The partners will ensure that the Sámi have real protection against threats and racism. The widespread Sámi agitation in society is a clear indication that there are challenges in the relationship between the Sámi and the majority population. Sámi will be raised as a separate area of ​​responsibility in the Sámi Parliamentary Council, and priority will be given to measures for prevention, knowledge, and handling,” said a statement from the following cooperating parties: the Norwegian Sámi National Association (NSR), the Center Party, and Flyttsamelista.

“It is simply hard work over a long period of time that must yield results. We must both become more aware of the prejudices we all have, but also of how this destroys the glue in society. We have to bring out the best in each other,” said Muotka.

Expectations

Muotka hopes that there will be a real opportunity to raise the issue when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission delivers its recommendations in the summer of 2023. The commission has been appointed by the Storting to investigate Norwegianization policies and injustices against Sámi, Kvens, and Norwegian Finns.

“Then both the majority population and minority groups are offered an opportunity to go through this and deal with it in an open way. And maybe we’ll get opportunities to take some steps further,” she said.

In total, there are 16 chapters in the Beaiveálgu Declaration. In addition to Sámi agitation, Muotka highlighted the need for more Sámi teachers and kindergarten teachers as a particularly important issue.

In addition, she said that the threat from wind power and other land encroachments that challenge the livelihoods of the Sámi will be high on the agenda.

The expectations of the Støre government are high.

“I think that the Beaiveálgu Declaration and the Hurdal platform have some meeting points that are very important. This applies to Sea Sámi fishing rights and the willingness to revise the Reindeer Husbandry Act, and when it comes to teachers and kindergarten teachers and other matters. We will use this when we work politically in the coming years.”

Source: ©️ NTB Scanpix / #NorwayTodayTravel

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