Sámi National Day is commemorated across Norway
Støre visit rejected by kindergarten parents
It has been 107 years since the first Sámi national meeting took place in Trondheim, Norway. On Feb. 6, Sámi National Day was marked across the country.
In the capital, according to tradition, a large celebration was held in Oslo City Hall
“Sámi National Day is important for our city. We need knowledge and understanding of Sámi language, culture, and tradition. I am happy that for the more than 21 years we have been invited to this commemoration here in Oslo City Hall,” said Mayor Anne Lindboe (Conservative Party).
The new Oslo Joik Choir performed the national anthem for the 500 guests in attendance.
Sámi Parliament member Mikkel Eskild Mikkelsen and Kirsti Bergstø (Socialist Left Party) were both welcomed by Mayor Lindboe when they arrived at the town hall.
Among the guests were City Council Governing Mayor Eirik Lae Solberg (Conservative Party) and representatives from the Feb. 6 committee and Sámi House, who were also present at the raising of the Sámi flag outside the town hall earlier in the morning. Musician Fred Buljo from the band Keiino also took part in the commemoration there.
Sámi National Day is marked in a number of places around the country on Feb. 6, including celebrations in Bodø, Tromsø, Nordreisa, Evenskjer, Karasjok, and Tana.
Sámi kindergarten rejects Støre
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre was scheduled to visit a Sámi kindergarten in Oslo for the National Day. However, the visit was canceled following protests from several parents, who wanted to show their dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the Fosen case, according to Aftenposten. (See Reindeer farming rights secured).
“Of course, I respect the parents’ wish to not have me visit,” Støre said to the newspaper.
On Feb. 6, he published a post on social media where he congratulated the Sámi on the day. He also used the opportunity to apologize again in connection with the Fosen case, which triggered a number of demonstrations in Oslo last year.
“I am happy to see that Sámi language and culture are becoming more visible in society every year. Then, again, I regret that the licensing decisions for the wind power turbines from 2013 entailed a violation of human rights because of their significant negative effect on the Sámi’s ability to cultivate their traditions. It is our responsibility to ensure that the rights are safeguarded,” wrote Støre.
Record for Sámi language
This school year, 2,762 primary school students take classes in Northern Sámi, Southern Sámi or Lule Sámi. There are 216 more students than the previous school year and a new record, according to Framtidajunior.no.
“It is this development and policy that the Sámi Parliament is in favor of. It is a right to be educated in Sámi, and it is a great joy for us to see such a development,” said Mikkel Eskil Mikkelsen, Sámi parliamentary councilor for education and language, to the website.
In particular, the number of students with Northern Sámi has increased in recent years. From the last school year alone, the number of students with Northern Sámi as their first or second language has increased by 154.
A total of 904 students in primary school have Sámi as their language of instruction this school year. It is the highest number in 14 years.
From the beginning of the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century, Norwegian authorities actively engaged in Norwegianization of the Sámi people. That meant that the culture and language of the Sámi were opposed and replaced by the language and culture of the Norwegian majority.
On the occasion of Sámi National Day, the cartoon Nemi has been translated into Southern Sámi for the very first time, said Trøndelag county council in a press release. For 10 years, Trøndelag county library has collaborated with the language center Gïelem nastedh to translate a number of children’s books into Southern Sámi.
The project is financed by the Sámi Parliament and Trøndelag County Municipality, and as of February 2024, 168 translations have been published.
“I have a lot of respect and love for the Sámi language, and think it is a great honor to have Nemi translated into Southern Sámi,” said Nemi creator Lise Myhre.