Tale ved åpningen av NAISA-konferansen

Sametingsråd Mikkel Eskil Mikkelsen holdt tale på åpningsseremonien til The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) konferansen i Bodø 6. juni. NAISA er den største internasjonale akademiske organisasjonen for urfolksforskning, og arrangerer årlig en konferanse som tiltrekker seg akademikere, studenter, uavhengige forskere, lokale utdanningsaktører og urfolksdeltakere fra hele verden, og fra mange ulike fagområder. Talen finnes kun på engelsk:

Dear indigenous brothers and sisters, relatives, esteemed President of NAISA, President of the Sámi Council, Rector of Nuortta Universiehtta, Director of the Nordland Research Institute, Mayor of Bådåddjo, honored guests, and friends.

As a member of the executive board at the Sámi Parliament of Norway, I am delighted to welcome you all to Sápmi, the land of the Sámi people, which stretches across four state borders. Here, in Bådåddjo/Buvvda/Bodø, the Lulesami and Pitesami languages are spoken, and we stand in the beautiful grazing areas of the Duokta reindeer herding family.

Drawing on our rich yoiking traditions, I would like to share the lyrics from the Sámi national joik, written by Ailohas, in English as a warm welcome to everyone:

Sun Father's golden jewel high in the heaven Mother earth's heart beats life rushes like a river The wind brings, takes away the tundra stays the same behind tundra in tundra's lap the Sámi children's haven

It is truly an honor that the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association conference of 2024 is held in Sápmi. I extend my heartfelt thanks to both the organizers and the NAISA council for making this extraordinary conference possible here in Buvvda / Bådåddjo.

Today, I want to honor the indigenous researchers who work tirelessly to document, preserve, and uplift our community knowledge. They conduct their work ethically, in close collaboration with our communities, ensuring it is shared and respected.

These researchers create new methodologies that align with our ethical standards. They foster relationships where community members are co-researchers, ensuring research serves and respects our cultures and traditions and our needs.

Furthermore, they decolonize research by using our indigenous languages, recognizing language as a vessel of culture, identity, and knowledge. This ensures the work honors our heritage and is meaningful to our communities.

The work of indigenous scholars worldwide shows our strength and resilience. By dismantling colonial structures and celebrating indigenous knowledge and perspectives, their commitment to ethical research and community collaboration sets a powerful example to us all.

This is important because as indigenous peoples, we know that research is not just academic; it holds deep personal significance for many of us. Like many others, my own family has experienced skull measurements and other injustices in the name of research.

By acknowledging that we carry the consequences of such research, last year was a significant year for us Sámis when the University in Tråante/Trondheim finally apologized for its role when one of their researchers presented a theory back in 1889 that the Sámi were immigrants to our lands. This theory has been used, among other things, by the Supreme Court to deprive us Sámis of our rights. Although this theory has now been disproven, its effects and negative attitude towards Sámi still persist in some communities.

This reminds us why we must remain vigilant and ensure that research is conducted with respect, ethics, and a full understanding of our rights. It is also crucial to emphasize the importance of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) in all research involving indigenous peoples. By adhering to this principle we can ensure that research is conducted ethically, respectfully, and in alignment with the interests and needs of indigenous peoples. This empowers us and protects our future generations.

Dear all, you come to Sápmi in a time of Truth and Reconciliation. Last year, the commission's report on the Norwegian side was completed, and we are awaiting the reports from Finland and Sweden. The report provides an honest and necessary insight into past abuses, highlighting the need for reconciliation and justice.

The report illustrates why indigenous research is crucial for recognizing and preserving the unique cultures, languages, and traditions of indigenous peoples. By providing insight into indigenous knowledge systems it can help to rectify historical injustices, and hopefully strengthening the Sámi people right of to self-determination and participation in decision-making processes that affect our lives.

When upholding the need for indigenous led research, I would also like to acknowledge and honor the work of the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Guovdageaidnu. As an institution for the Sámi and led by us Sámi, their commitment to advancing Sámi education and research is invaluable and has greatly enriched our understanding and preservation, and promotion of Sámi culture and knowledge and languages.

Finally, I would like to extend a warm thank you to the global indigenous community. Your efforts to promote indigenous voices and research have been and still is invaluable. Your work has given us strength, hope, and resilience, and we will continue to need your support and work in the times to come. Together, we can create a better future.

With this, I wish you all a fruitful and inspiring conference. Let us continue to work together to promote indigenous research to ensure that indigenous voices are heard and that our rights and cultures are respected and preserved. I thank you all for coming to Sábme and let us together make these days a celebration of indigenous peoples across the globe and a celebration of the work of indigenous scholars and researchers.

Edna gijtov, thank you very much.