Speech by the President of Sami Parliament Plenary Assembly
Speech by Stefan Mikaelsson at the official start of the European Capital of Culture year in Umeå 2014.
We, the Sami, are one people, united in our culture, language and history, living in areas which since time immemorial and up to historical times, we alone have inhabited and utilized.
Your Royal Highness, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Stefan Mikaelsson and I am the President of the Sami parliament plenary assembly. I chose to paraphrase the NGO Sami Council political statement from 1986 which was adopted at the Sami conference in Åre, at the same time as we adopted our national symbol, the Sami flag. Today the Sami parliaments and NGO Sami Council together administrate our Sami national symbols.
Already in 1751 our Sami nation was acknowledged in a codicill to the border treaty between the kingdom of Denmark-Norway and the kingdom of Sweden. 260 years later when the Swedish parliament implemented the new constitution, the Sami people is mentioned as a people of its own.
Today, the Sami parliament is the only legitimate representative of the Sami people. It is the people, through individual performance and achievements, who claim, uphold and defend the Sami culture. The Sami parliament plenary is here represented by myself together with Deputy Presidents Per-Olof Nutti, Mona Persson and Lars Wilhelm Svonni.
Our lands and territories are the core of our existence - we are the land and the land is us; we have a distinct spiritual and material relationship with our lands and territories and they are inextricably linked to our survival. When our lands and territories are devastated, we jeopardize our traditional culture and run the risk of disappearing as an indigenous people.
We walk to the future in the footprints of our ancestors.
(The Kimberley-declaration, 2002)
I would like to thank all the Sami artists, musicians, handicrafts persons, hunters, fishermen & reindeer herders who have made this opening so diverse and different, compared to the majority culture. Thank you for honouring our ancestors and predecessors, making our children proud of their Sami origin in this global world, full of challenges. Thus making it possible to continue transferring the culture to new generations.
Sunshine and bird song, that was the Samiland, and our thoughts go back to old memories again and again.
On behalf of the Sami parliament I wish you all very welcome to Sápmi!
STEFAN MIKAELSSON -Sámedikke åvddåulmusj-
President of Sami Parliament Plenary Assembly