The Sami ‘national day’ celebrated in Oslo’s grand hall

Sami people's dayCrown Prince Haakon participates during the celebration of Sami people's day in Oslo City Hall on Wednesday.Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

The Sami flag flew at Rådhusplassen for guests in the town hall and a separate ‘Oslojoik’. The Sami national day was celebrated in the capital and the rest of the country on Wednesday.

Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon, and 400 guests with a Sami background, were gathered for a party lunch in Oslo City Hall (Rådhus).

‘’This day reminds us that Norwegians and Sami have lived and still live side by side. We share a common story and a shared responsibility for our future’’ said Prime Minister, Erna Solberg of Høyre (H) in her speech to the guests.

But like many others who marked the day, Solberg also took up the dark history of the indigenous people. Many Sami have had to hide their background and family history, among them defense minister, Frank Bakke-Jensen, she said.

‘’Today he is registered among the Sami number. But there has been a long way to get there. He tells of a family history of concealment and denial, until recently’’ she said.

Bakke-Jensen told of a family history in an interview with VG newspaper on Wednesday.

Proud joiks

The Prime Minister noted that Sami language and culture have a stronger rootstock today than just a few generations ago. She praised the Stjernekamp participant, Ella Marie Isaksen Hætta, for opening the door to the Sami culture for several hundred thousand Norwegians.

“The controversial has become popular – and has given pride back to many young Sami” Solberg said in her speech.

On the 102nd anniversary of the first social gathering, Oslo’s own joik was also performed by another singer, Ande Somby.

‘’The biggest honour a municipality and a capital can get is to receive a joik. This gift gets bigger the more we share it. We want to take good care of Oslojoiken’’ said Oslo’s Mayor, Marianne Borgen.

Reindeer herding and mining

Although Sami history, language and culture get a lot of positive mention, there are still many who use the National Day to remind Norway of controversial political issues that concern the Sami.

Ronja Vaara from Oslo had the main speech in the town hall and reminded of controversy about mining and wind farms in Sami areas, as well as the young reindeer herding society’s Ante Jovsset’s struggle to avoid forced slaughter of parts of their reindeer herd.

‘’These and many more cases show how important it is to stand together as a people against injustice and abuse’’ Vaara said.

She is pleased that parliament has set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the abuses against the Sami, Kven and Norwegian Finns, including the effect of the so-called ‘Norwegianalisation’ policy.

“The Norwegian education system denied me my language, but they could never take my Sami identity” Vaara said.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today