It's almost five in the afternoon when we arrive at the entrance to the newly opened Sajos de Inari. This is the Cultural Center building and the seat of the Finnish Sami parliament.
The Sami people see it as a decisive work for their development and self-government as part of the Suomi territory.
Around this time, a small chilled crowd gathers in an indoor amphitheater to watch the awards ceremony for the Porokuninkuusajot (Kings Cup), the most important event in the national reindeer racing calendar.
The room next door welcomes representatives of Sami municipalities. All are prepared for an extensive agenda, armed with their laptops and files.
All have assigned seats at a round table.
Before the session starts, they help themselves to tea, milk, sandwiches, biscuits and pastries, available from a buffet positioned below the translators' booths.
Not all citizens understand each other. O suomi that could solve the difficulty is not called there.
In some cases, differences between regions or sub-ethnic groups go far beyond the language and colorful costumes they wear.
The Beginning of Another Sami Assembly
The session starts. We followed the first quiet and paused interventions to feel the pulse of the room, but if Finnish is, in itself, unintelligible, let alone those even more exotic Sami-Finish languages.
The parliament has an English speaking service secretary. Marja Mannisto is a busy woman. Even so, it takes us a few minutes on the sofas outside to bring us up to date with the issues being debated.
The main issues are related to the ILO convention (International Labor Organization) for indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries.
Os Sami they complain that, despite the progress, 90% of the Sapmi territory is still managed by Metshällitus, the Finnish Service for Parks and Forests, and as such does not actually belong to them.
Metshällitus Interference and Other Crucial Issues
Marja explains to us in faltering English: “so far, Finnish officials have subsidized identity Sami in many ways. For the publication of teaching materials in indigenous languages alone, it allocated 290.000 euros this year. Even so, when the issue is territorial, they tend to protect the population. Sami who fears feeling foreign when traveling to the far north, or losing what she considers her historic rights to those lands, to hunt and fish there. "
Other regional disputes no less important compete with these:
“Utsoki wants to break away from the predominant municipality of Inari, which is too far away, but by itself it would be too poor. Thus, it proposes to join Norwegian counterparts with whom it shares a language. Sami distinct, the same school, library, infirmary and others. Inari, on the other hand, has been losing population to the south, especially Helsinki (from more than 7.000 inhabitants a few years ago to less than 7.000 now).”
You want to embed all surrounding regions. Rovaniemi – which, thanks largely to tourism, has a thriving economy – does not need Inari and defends its autonomy from the capital of the North”.
We stayed for some time to watch the progress of the work. Those, however, were Sami political affairs. Discussed in Sami dialects. Outside, we had a whole Sami life in the dazzling nature at the top of the Lapland to find out.
We took a few more pictures of the dignitaries present there. We appreciate your attention. We return to the outside even colder.