Second Annual Eudaimonia Lecture "Sami Histories, Truth, and Reconciliation" (Veli-Pekka Lehtola)
In Finland, reconciliation processes have been quite rare compared to Norway, for instance, where already in 1997 the King of Norway made an apology concerning the mistreatments of the Sámi. On the Sámi national day in 2012, the bishop of the Oulu chapter Samuel Salmi apologized for the misconduct of the Finnish church towards the Sámi. During the years 2017-2018, following the recommendations of Sámi parliamentarians and the youth council in Trondheim, the truth and reconciliation commission was started also in Finland, but it took four years until the commission was chosen.
In my paper, the context for the mistrust between the Sámi and the state is discussed. Much of this mistrust is due to different processes initiated by the state in the Sámi area, in which the Sámi parliament was not heard. There are lots of issues for the truth and reconciliation commission to deal with, some of them about traumatic historical experiences, but many also about more recent and contemporary issues, such as the negative experiences of the Sámi youth caused by the dispute on Sámi issues in 2000s with derogatory or even racist discourses.
I will argue that it is essential to map and try to reconciliate historical problems in order to ponder how to identify the similar issues today and how to prevent them in future. These problems can be influences of border closings even today, e.g. concerning the Skolt Sámi population after the WWII; racial studies as scientific colonialism; influences of the WWII and especially the ruin of the ”German War” and the reconstruction period; boarding school experiences; building of reservoirs etc. On a larger scale, the question is about overtaking and replacing the Sámi structures by majority structures.
I also suggest that, in attempts to reconciliation, history should be taken as an empowering resource, sharing the Sámi experiences of coping with the changes. Testimonies of “our stories” about getting on in colonial circumstances are similarly important. Recognizing these stories does not weaken the analysis of colonialism or of the asymmetrical power relations, but strengthens it by articulating the ability and the power of Sámi forefathers and -mothers.
Please register for the talk by May 4 here. The registration is for catering purposes only.