Tag Archives: Sami

Sweden’s Indigenous Sami in Fight Against Miners

4 Sep

by Malin Rising and David Mac Dougall / The Detroit News

sami

Per Mikael Utsi, standing, member of the Sami Parliament, takes part in the opening session of the parliament in Jokkmokk, northern Sweden (Carl-Johan Utsi / AP)

Jokkmokk, Sweden — On a dirt road passing through sparkling lakes and spruce woods in the wilds of northern Sweden, a woman belonging to Europe’s only indigenous people — the Sami — chants a traditional, high-pitched tune.

Since the end of the last Ice Age, the Sami have wandered the vast landscapes of northern Europe, herding reindeer and nurturing a philosophy of harmony with nature. This time, however, the woman’s Joik — a Sami chant that involves gliding over notes without lyrics — has a desperate tone to it: Her voice trembles and grows into a scream as four policemen remove her from the road. She had been protesting a British mining company’s plans for an open pit mine on ancient lands.

The woman is one of dozens of Sami and environmental activists who gathered recently on the site, setting up road blocks, burning bonfires and flying the Sami flag, with the aim to block the company from conducting test blasts near the town of Jokkmokk on the Arctic Circle.

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