Friday, 14 August 2009

Pekka Aikio Sami Leader
Many years ago I first heard the wonderful sound of the yoik a form of singing performed by the Sami. Yoik needs no accompaniment and can be performed in a building or outdoors. It may contain words or have no words at all. I like the liberating flexibility of this because I can make up non existent words that might communicate how I feel more than if I sang in English. Ok so I’m a bit nuts. To cut a long story short I have become fascinated by the Sami and every thing about them. I suppose it is not surprising that it started with a tune.

The Sami are the indigenous peoples of the most northern parts of Scandinavia. They live in an area between the Kola peninsula in Russia to the north of Finland, Norway and Sweden, astride the Kolen mountains south to Trondheim in Norway and to Idre in Sweden. The Finnish Sami region consists of the northern part of the province of Lapland, defined in a 1973 statute as consisting of the communes of Utsjoki, Inari and Enotnekio and the herding cooperative in the northern part of the commune of Sodankyla. This area covers 35,000 km 2, that is, 36% of the province and about 10% of Finland. During the harsh winter the Sami, who have herded reindeer for generations, graze their animals in the last remaining ancient forests in Europe . Their way of life is under threat by deforestation of these same forests by Metsähallitus, the Finnish state-owned logging company.
In the Finnish Constitution the Sami have status as indigenous people and the right to elect their own parliament. There are approximately 8,000 Sami in Finland and a total of 100,000 Sami in Sweden, Norway, Finland and other parts of Northern Europe. Problems over land use is one of the main threats to the Sami way of life, with the government itself often responsible for deforestation of areas used for pasture by the Sami who have no land rights of their own. According to Martin Scheinin, who is a professor of international law at the Abo Academy in Turku, the constitutional rights of the Sami are being ignored by sections of the state administration.“Nobody knows how the government got this land or from whom they bought it. They simply took it,” said Prof. Scheinin. Greenpeace have been working with the Sami to try to help them protect this land. In May Metsähallitus agreed to a temporary moratorium over 90,000 hectares of important reindeer grazing forests and entered into formal negotiations with the Sami. Metsähallitus, the Finnish state-owned logging company, has unilaterally terminated all negotiations with the Sami reindeer herding co-operatives and has said that the logging moratorium on 90,000 hectares of important reindeer grazing forests is over. Logging could restart at any time soon. Recently Metsähallitus started logging in intact forest landscapes, the most valuable of all ancient forests left in Finland. Stora Enso is currently the biggest producer of newsprint and sawn softwood timber in Europe. According to Greenpeace, leading photocopy companies such as OCE, Canon and Xerox sell Stora Enso paper made from ancient forests under their own brand names.

The Sami are probably among the last remaining people of the great European nomadic tribes. Their land rights should be enshrined in law. If they lose their struggle in this I feel sure we will all lose some thing of great value. This isn’t some issue in a far off place which might seem to be nothing to do with us nor an issue over which we should be silent. I believe the Sami know and appreciate the true value of their beautiful wilderness and understandably want it preserved for generations to come. It will be a shameful atrocity of the highest order if the Finnish Government and the Corporate loggers defeat this just and righteous aim. If we don't maintain the wilderness and it's keepers, the wasteland in it's place will be a dreadful legacy and our descendants will despise us for our weakness.

A statement on the Metsäliitto web site >
Metsäliitto is committed to responsible sourcing of wood. While our mission is to supply high quality wood for the Group's mills, we also take into account forest biodiversity and maintaining the opportunity for the multiple use of forests in all our operations.

Metsäliitto records half year pre tax loot for 2009 in excess of 248 million euros;2785;3370;2908



Anonymous said...

Glad that you brought this to our attention.A reflection of the true "cost of living"?-when greed and profit rule.Not that it should be that way.Hopefully we can support the Sami people,their rights and their way of life....Once people are disconnected from the land and its resources there is a tendency to then become dependent buying in items that you once produced yourself-in a way that is/was in harmony and sustainable with that immediate environment.Not to glamourise such a way of being.It can be tough.But it should be a basic right-that of access to land and protection of resourses for an indigenous people.

Anonymous said...

The White Man made over 600 treaties with the Native Americans and they broke each and every treaty they ever made. The White Man destroyed the culture of the Native American people and beat Native American children if they were caught speaking their Native American languages.

The same insanity over and over -

Josh and Nancy

Anonymous said...

We should all get in touch with this company and the Finnish Governement. It's easy to email them and so we should. I don't know what might be done to sort it but the minimum is to let them know how people feel otherwise they will think no one cares. We do care don't we?
Come on First Supperists. There can't be a better cause.

ps we were crap against Tottenham yesterday Rob aaargh.

Anonymous said...

Well I've already mailed them a few days ago and apart from an automated reply heard nothing else as yet.

Anonymous said...

The attitude of the American people towards native Americans can be summed up quite nicely in the Geronimo Black song 'an American National Anthem'. As Jimmy Carl Black also said...'you have to wade through miles of shit to get to paradise'.

Nite Owl