Saamelaisliike

Saamelaiskulttuurin ensyklopedia
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Saamelaisliike

Saamelaisliike on järjestöjen syntymiseen sekä etniseen tiedostamiseen ja politiikkaan liittyvä käsite. Saamelaisten parissa oli satunnaisia järjestäytymispyrkimyksiä 1800-luvun lopulla, mutta ne eivät kantaneet pitkälle. Valtiotkaan eivät tukeneet näitä pyrkimyksiä, sillä ne pelkäsivät järjestäytymisen heikentävän valtioiden assimilaatiopolitiikkaa. Toisaalta saamelaiset eivät itsekään pitäneet järjestöjä vielä silloin tarpeellisina. 1900-luvun alkupuolella perustettiin varhaisimmat järjestöt eteläsaamelaisten alueella, ensin Ruotsissa ja sitten Norjassa. Koko 1900-luku on ollut etnisen tietoisuuden heräämisen ja järjestäytymisen voimistumisen kautta.

Sadan vuoden kuluessa saamelaisista on tullut yksi maailman järjestäytyneimmistä kansoista, sillä erilaisia järjestöjä (aatteellisia, kulttuurisia, paikallisia, kansainvälisiä) arvioidaan olevan lähemmäs sata. Saamelaisilla oli voitettavanaan useita esteitä, ennen kuin saamelaiset saattoivat perustaa ensimmäisen yhteisen sosiaalis-poliittisen fooruminsa. Saamelaiset joutuivat ahdinkoon lisääntyvän uudisasutuksen, maanviljelyksen ja teollisuuden tunkeutuessa yhä syvemmälle Saamenmaan maille. Suurin este oli kuitenkin se, että kolonialistisen politiikan vuoksi saamelaiset olivat hajaantuneina neljään eri valtioon.

Saamelaisen järjestäytymisen pyrkimyksenä on ollut koota eri valtioissa hajallaan asuvat saamelaiset yhteen yli valtakuntien rajojen tapahtuvan yhteistyön kautta ja tehdä omaa saamelaispolitiikkaa. Vasta toisen maailmansodan jälkeen kansainvälinen suhtautuminen vähemmistöjen oikeuksiin ja ihmisoikeuskysymyksiin muuttuu, kun niitä asioita aletaan käsitellä sekä Euroopan Neuvostossa että YK:ssa. YK:n ihmisoikeuksien julistus hyväksyttiin 1948, ja se otettiin vastaan vakavasti pohjoismaissa, erityisesti Norjassa. Toinen kansainvälisesti merkittävä askel otettiin, kun ILO:n uudistettu sopimus alkuperäis- ja heimokansoista (ILO:n alkuperäiskansoja ja heimoja itsenäisissä valtioissa koskeva kansainvälinen sopimus) hyväksyttiin 1989.

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Sisällysluettelo: Politiikka, järjestäytyminen ja organisaatiot

Irja Seurujärvi-Kari



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Saami movement

The concept of a Saami movement is connected with the birth of organizations, ethnic awareness and politics. There were sporadic attempts at organization among the Saami in the late nineteenth century, but they were short-lived. They were not supported by the states involved, which were afraid that these endeavours would be detrimental to their assimilationist policies. On the other hand, the Saami themselves did not at that time consider organization necessary. The first organizations were established in the South Saami region in the early twentieth century, first in Sweden and then in Norway. The whole of the twentieth century was a period of awakening ethic awareness and intensifying organization.

Within a period of a hundred years the Saami have become one of the most organized peoples in the world; it is estimated that there are almost a hundred different Saami organizations (ideological, cultural, local and international). The Saami had to overcome numerous obstacles before they were able to found their first common socio-political forum. They had been forced into a difficult predicament as increased settlement, farming and industry encroached ever deeper into Saami lands. The greatest obstacle, however, was the fact that the Saami had been divided between four different states as a result of colonialist policy.

The objective of Saami organization has been to reunite the dispersed Saami people by means of transnational cooperation and to create a Saami political agenda. It was only after the Second World War that the international attitude towards the rights of minorities and human rights questions changed. Now, however, these issues are beginning to be dealt with in the Council of Europe and the UN. The UN Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, and it was taken seriously in the Nordic countries, particularly Norway. Another important international event was the approval of the ILO s redrafted "Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries" in 1989.

At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the states typically imposed a tough policy of discrimination on minorities. This policy was supported by the social Darwinist views prevalent at the time, which took concrete form in nationalism and in a racist attitude towards the Saami, particularly in Norway. This is evidenced, for example, by the policy of Norwegianization that began in the 1850s and continued for a century. Behind it lay motives of power politics. The aim was to integrate minorities as quickly as possible into the cultural and behavioural norms of the majority. One of the means used was the discriminatory policy adopted towards the Saami language.

At the same time as the assimilationist policy intensified particularly in Norway and Sweden, the firstendeavours by the Saami were made to establish local associations. The first attempt in Norway was made in 1870 in order to publish a periodical called Muitalaegje (1837 75). The endeavour failed because the Norwegian government was unwilling to support the paper. However, the Norwegian Free Church was able to publish and sustain a periodical called Nuorttanaste (1898 ). Saami political activity began in 1903 04, when Anders Larsen, then a teacher and later a journalist and writer, rallied his brothers in Seglvik to revive the first Saami-language periodical, which came out from 1904 to 1911 as Sagai Muitalaegji. It was an organ of Saami political opinion, and it supported the candidacy of Isak Saba for election to the Norwegian Parliament (Storting).

In Sweden, Lapparnas Centralförbund (the Central Union of Lapps), the first cooperative organ for local Saami organizations was established in 1904, but it soon folded because it was unable to obtain government support, and it was 21 years before a new Saami central organization was founded. Behind Lapparnas Centralförbund were numerous small local associations such as those in Vilhelmina Åsele, Fatmomokk, Tärnaby, Glen and Sörsele. The political activities of the central organization achieved some results: in 1904 and 1905 it published a paper called Lappernas Egen Tidning, which was succeeded by Samefolkets Egen Tidning in 1918 and Samefolket in 1961. Particularly in organizational activities was Elsa Laula(-Renberg) she wrote to newspapers and sought audiences with government ministers and even the king. She began her work in Sweden, and after she moved to Norway she continued her political activities there.

Organizing activities got under way in Norway in Röyrvik, also in the South Saami region, a little later than in Sweden. Elsa Laula-Renberg, Johnsen Vesterfjeld and a few others succeeded in getting the first Saami Act passed in 1907.Two associations, Nordre Trondhjems Amts Lappeforening and Söndre Trondhjems Amts Lappeforening, were established in 1908. Together with the Helheland Association in 1910 they formed De Lappiske forbund, which published a weekly periodical called Waren Sadne from 1910 for the next six years. In the same year, the first Saami women s organization, Brurskanken Samiske Kvindeforening, was founded on the initiative of Elsa Laula-Renberg. Three Saami National Assemblies were arranged by Elsa Laula between 1917 and 1921.

In Finland, after the country s independence in 1917 and the ensuing bitter civil war in 1918, the linguistic and cultural problems of the small Saami minority passed unnoticed, or at any rate they were regarded with indifference. However, in the period between the world wars, which historians have dubbed the Dark Winter , the Saami of the three countries began to mobilize and form national associations in order to initiate dialogues with national and local authorities. Some Finnish academics founded Lapin sivistysseura (the Society for the Promotion of Saami Culture) in Helsinki in 1932 in order to create an organ of support for Saami culture and the Saami language.

The Second World War had a profound effect on the Saami; for example the Skolt Saamis of the Kola Peninsula were relocated from the USSR to the municipality of Inari in Finland. It took years to rebuild Norwegian and Finnish Lapland after the scorched earth policy of the retreating Germans and the other ravages of war. At this stage, organization at the national and pan-Saami levels was still initiated by members of the non-Saami intelligensia who were concerned about the situation, and who thought that society at large should shoulder a greater burden of responsibility for its small ethnic minority. In this respect, the Society for the Promotion of Saami Culture was for many years one of the most influential organizations in the Nordic countries, and it furthered public awareness of the social and cultural plight of the Saami. The first actual Saami association in Finland, Samii Litto, was created in 1945 in Alavieska in central Finland by Saamis who had been evacuated there. Together with the Society for the Promotion of Saami Culture it drew public attention to social issues and to the resettlement of the Russian Skolt Saamis after the war.

The Swedish Saami national cultural association Same Ätnam was founded in 1944 on the initiative of the Bengt Jonzon, the Bishop of Luleå. Same Ätnam continues to be one of the largest Saami organizations. In Norway in 1947, the trade union Norges reindriftssamers landsforening (NRL the National Union of Norwegian Reindeer Herders) was established, and it became an important actor in Saami occupational and cultural life. Only reindeer herders were accepted as members. In Sweden in 1950 a sister organization was created called Svenska Samernas Riksförbund (SSR the National Union of Swedish Saamis).

The states began to improve the handling of Saami issues by creating committees to deal with Saami affairs. In Finland, a report by the Committee for Saami Affairs, which was appointed in 1949, was issued in 1952, but its proposals never came to fruition. Equally unsuccessful were the recommendations of the 1959 report of the Norwegian Committee for Saami Affairs, and stormy debate ensued. The basic premise of the two reports was that the states assimilationist policy should end, and that the Saami should be given some small privileges. Some Norwegian scholars have suggested that the ruling Social Democrats in Norway adopted a negative stance towards the cultural work of the Saami because their idea of social solidarity and national unity presupposed the lessening of differences between people. This was based on a nineteenth-century social Darwinist view (Social Darwinism). The development of minority cultures was not in line with this ideological point of view.

In the early 1950s the key actor in the Norwegian Saami movement was a group of 20 - 30 intellectuals which acted as a kind of broker between the Saami and the rest of society. They were academics specializing in the language, culture and history of the Saami who were able to show them the cultural values of their own way of life. Gradually, reference to one s ethnic background began to be legitimate and respectable. This new positive image gave the Saami the wherewithal for political action.

Organization became more intense at the local, national and international levels. In Norway another national organization, Norgga Samiid Riikkasearvi (NSR)/Norske Samers Riksforbund, was created. It was an affiliation of local Finnmark Saami organizations and the Oslo association Sami Saervi. In 1979 a third national organization Samenes Landsforbund (SLF) was established mainly to represent the fishing Saami. It has experienced difficulties in creating a clear Saami political agenda, and the other Saami organizations have looked askance at its pro-Norwegian inclination. In Sweden, two interesting organizations were created: Sáminuorra, a Saami youth organization in 1963, and the agricultural association Landsförbundet Svenska Samer (LSS). The legitimacy of the latter has also been questioned by the Saami.

The pan-Saami movement got under way in 1953 in the form of a Nordic Saami Conference in Jokkmokk organized jointly by Lapin Sivistysseura, Same Ätnam and Sami Saervi (which was founded in Oslo in 1948 and was not a Saami association as such but was active in Saami educational issues). From then until 1992, Saami Conferences were held at three-year intervals and thereafter every four years.

Irja Seurujärvi-Kari



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