Posts Tagged ‘sami’

Photo: Sonia Narang/PRI  
Inka Saara Arttijeff is the adviser to the president of the Sámi Parliament and hails from a family of Sámi reindeer herders. She represents Finland at international climate change summits. 

When I was in Sweden last year, I visited the history museum in Stockholm, where I learned a little about an indigenous population called the Sámi. I had previously heard them called Laplanders, but Wikipeida says they don’t like that term:

“The Sami people (also known as the Sámi or the Saami) are a Finno-Ugric people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses large parts of Norway and Sweden, northern parts of Finland, and the Murmansk Oblast of Russia. The Sami have historically been known in English as the Lapps or the Laplanders, but these terms can be perceived as derogatory.”

Sonia Narang of the GlobalPost recently reported on the Sámi people and the threat that global warming poses for their way of life.

“Inka Saara Arttijeff and her family gather in the cozy kitchen of their red, wooden house, as a pot of soup simmers on the stove. They live at the edge of a frozen lake in the storybook village of Nellim, up toward the far reaches of northern Finland. … Arttijeff is part of a family of indigenous Sámi reindeer herders who are unfazed by short days in subzero weather.

“The Sámi [are] known for their centuries-old tradition of herding reindeer. … However, the warming climate has threatened to disrupt the Sámi people’s tradition of reindeer herding. … The combination of weather changes and increased tree cutting has made it harder for reindeer to find food, and it’s altered their migration patterns.

“ ‘Reindeer herding represents a way of life,’ Arttijeff said. … Arttijeff is one of a growing number of outspoken Sámi women who are taking their voices well beyond the borders of their small villages. The 33-year-old is the adviser to the female president of the Sámi Parliament, Tiina Sanila-Aikio, and represents Finland on the world’s stage. Every year, Arttijeff joins a delegation of indigenous representatives at the UN’s climate change talks. In between all that, she is also a graduate student in international relations and law. …

” ‘For reindeer herding, [we] need forest that is healthy,’ Arttijeff said. … Finland’s state-owned forestry agency, Metsähallitus, manages about one-third of the country’s forests, and it’s also responsible for harvesting and selling timber. Kirsi-Marja Korhonen, a regional director and environmental specialist at Metsähallitus, … notes 60 percent of trees on Sámi lands are in protected areas.

“That still leaves large swaths of Sámi forests up for grabs, reindeer herders say, and they point to clear-cutting of productive forests. …

“[Saara Tervaniemi, a reindeer herder] says it’s critical to monitor forestry activities on her people’s lands since logging is eroding the culture she hopes to pass down to her children. …

“Since Sámi women are primarily responsible for child care and passing on their culture to the next generation, reindeer herding has become an important issue for them, especially as logging and climate change have intensified in recent years. …

“It’s not just reindeer herding that’s at risk — it’s the four other Sámi livelihoods, too: fishing, gathering, hunting and handicrafts. ‘For all of those, you need materials from nature,’ Arttijeff says. ‘If the nature changes, you cannot do traditional livelihoods anymore. So, if that changes, everything changes for us.’ ”

More here. Hat tip: @morinotsuma on twitter.

For more on the importance of forests, see my post reviewing The Gospel of Trees, here.

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If I didn’t know that Finns were good at finding creative solutions to problems, I would think Cara Giaimo was pulling my leg. Belatedly, I give you her Atlas Obscura story about reindeer that glow in the dark.

“If you’re on the lookout for magical reindeer this year, don’t bother gazing skyward — turn your attention to Finland, where local herders are using iridescent antler paint to cut down on deer-car collisions.

“In Finland’s Lapland region, vehicles share space with huge groups of freely roaming reindeer, herded by the Sami people. During the long, dark winter, this coexistence can be dangerous.

” ‘Every year, about 4,000 reindeer are lost on Finnish roads in car accidents,’ explained Juho Tahkola of the Reindeer Herder’s Association in an email. ‘We need to find a way to get these numbers down.’ …

“This year, after spray paint and fur-coating both proved lackluster, they’ve swabbed a test group of antlers with a thick brushing paint.”

More here.

Photo: Reindeer Herders Association
A Finnish reindeer browses “reflectively.” (Wish I could take credit for that bon mot.)

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Nourishing the Planet, a Worldwatch Institute project, “assesses the state of agricultural innovations with an emphasis on sustainability, diversity, and ecosystem health, as well as productivity.”

At the Nourishing the Planet blog, Jenna Baning writes about five groups of farmers in Africa who are sharing their problems and finding that the group has more solutions than the individuals.

1. Africa Rice Center “has been developing learning tools that focus on reaching as many farmers as possible … One powerful method has been farmer-to-farmer videos, which feature local experts sharing their knowledge about seed drying and preservation, rice quality, and soil management.”

2. Self-employed Women’s Association (SEWA), “a member-based Indian trade union that brings together approximately 1.3 million poor, self-employed women workers. … These women meet monthly in groups across the country to discuss challenges they are facing and identify possible solutions. SEWA’s Village Resource Centers connect the farmers with agricultural supplies, including improved seeds and organic fertilizers, as well as trainings.”

3. Songtaab-Yalgré, a rural women’s association that began “by teaching each other how to read and write in their local language. After gaining this basic, but critical skill, the organization then found ways to boost members’ incomes by producing shea butter products.”

4. Ecova – Mali was founded by two former Peace Corps Volunteers in 2007 because they saw that local people were better at training other local people than foreigners were. It “runs a training center and testing ground 35 kilometers (22 miles) outside of Bamako, Mali’s capital, as well as provides small grants to local farmers.”

5. The First Annual Conference of Indigenous Terra Madre, “a network launched by Slow Food International in 2004, focuses on protecting and promoting improved education, biodiversity, and connections between food producers and consumers. In June 2011, 200 representatives from 50 indigenous communities around the world met in Jokkmokk, Sweden, for the first-ever Indigenous Terra Madre Conference.

“The meeting, hosted by the native Arctic people known as the Sámi, and organized in partnership with Slow Food Sápmi and Slow Food International, discussed food sovereignty issues, the importance of preserving traditional knowledge for future generations, and ways to involve indigenous people and local communities in policy decision making and implementation.

“Small-scale farmers and indigenous people around the world shared their experiences and the solutions they had developed in response to the challenges they faced in common. As TahNibaa Naataanii, a participant in the meeting from the US-based Navajo Sheep Presidium, described, ‘We hear stories of the same thing that is happening in our own countries and own lands, and it gives us hope.’ ”

More here.

Photograph: Noor Khamis/Reuters/File
A farmer sets rice seedlings into paddy fields in Kirinyaga district, about 62 miles southeast of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The Africa Rice Center helps farmers share solutions to problems with each other.

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