Tale - Arktisk samling om klimaendringer for kunnskapshavere

Sametingspresident Silje Karine Muotkas velkomsttale i Arktisk samling om klimaendringer for kunnskapshavere, Kirkenes, 2. oktober 2023 (talen er kun på engelsk).

Giitu. Buorre iđit oappát ja vieljat, ráhkis árktalaš guovllu verddet. Mun lean Elle-Rávnná Eli Silje Karine.

Thank you, and good morning sisters and brothers. Dear Friends of the Arctic. My name is Silje Karine Muotka, and I am the President of the Sámi Parliament in Norway.

It’s a profound joy to be surrounded by the wisdom of the communities that hold the traditional knowledge of our arctic ancestors.

Allow me first to thank the organizers for the invitation to be here with you today. As the president of the Sámi parliament in Norway, it is my pleasure and honor to welcome all of you to Sápmi, Várjjatvuonna and Girkonjárka.

We are now in the northeast part of Sápmi. It’s a beautiful day her in Várjjat. The Várjjat area is spectacular, especially at the time of ruški, the time that the leaves turn and paints our mountains and tundra orange and yellow. Some might accuse me of saying this only because I grew up in this neighbourhood.

It’s always good for me to be back at the shores of Várjjatvuonna.

It is crucial that we as Indigenous Peoples have a voice in the climate politics, both in decisions on how to stop climate change, how to adapt to the changing climate and regards to knowledge about our ecosystems and communities. In the Arctic we experience climate change at a higher rate than the average global warming.

Our spiritual and physical connection to the land is disrupted by both climate change and the so called green shift. The Fosen wind power plant has been running illegally for 721 days, after the Norwegian supreme court declared that it’s in violation with the human rights of south sámi reindeer herders. Right now a young Sámi, Mihkkal, is living outside of the Norwegian Parliament in a lávvu in an effort to force the Norwegian government and parliament to stop the human rights violation. Our youth should not have to put their lives on hold to ensure that Norway respects our human rights.

The Sámi Climate Report was realeased in February and was a collaboration between the Sámi Parliament and The Saami Council. The report merges traditional knowledge with research and paints a picture of the state of climate change in Sápmi, and the effects they have on our culture, livelihoods and health. We are grateful for the tremendous effort that The Saami Council has put in this report. Last week the Sámi Parliament processed the report. We stress the importance of climate justice and that mitigating measures and adaptations to climate change must happen within the framework of our human rights.

Our existence in the Arctic seems remote for most people, but geopolitics affects us too. We are now just 15 km away from the border to Russia. Sápmi is divided into four nation states, and the Norwegian-Russian border was set in 1826. Because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine we are no longer able to have contact with our sámi relatives in Russia. This grieves us. The war in Ukraine also brings increased military presence to our land, the Nordic countries and NATO allies train on our land and challenges our land use.

In Sápmi berry picking season is ending now. Some are still out looking for berries before the frost comes. Now we are picking lingon berries, some of you call them cranberries, and in sámi we call them joŋat. They are an important food for us, especially for the winter because they are high in vitamins.

Our traditions of berry picking are not just a sustenance strategy but a reaffirmation of our ties to the land, our people and our ancestors. It is sámi tradition to leave the berries closest to the village for elders and children, and that adults pick the berries further away. Many families have their traditional berry picking spot that they have maintained through generations. I must warn you though, that sámis seldom will reveal our berry picking spot.

In closing, I must say that I am looking forward to participating today at this LCIPP-Arctic Council Joint Regional Gathering for the Arctic Region. I am familiar with the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) from my participation at COP 25 in Madrid, and I have also been to serval Arctic Council meetings.

The end my welcome words I will read a poem by the famous sámi artist Áillhohaš / Nils Aslak-Valkeapää. We can say about him that he didn’t write aboute nature, he wrote nature. This poem is a part of his poetical work Beaivi áhčážan / The sun, my father:

The land is different when you have lived there


Seen the sun
Set, rise
Disappear, return

The land is different
Whent you know
Here are

Giitu! Thank you for the attention.